Thursday, April 3, 2014

Assistive Technology

Sally Markiewicz
Library Media Specialist
Henry Abbott Technical High School
Danbury CT

I have been the librarian at Abbott Tech for twelve years. Prior to that, I was a Children's Librarian at a public library. At the public library, we were circulated a CRIS radio. We also offered a wide variety of audiobooks.
Our school is part of the CT Technical High School System. There is a consultant who researches and orders Assistive Technology (AT). At Abbott, I circulate software that students can download on their home computers, "Read Out Loud" and "Snap and Read." Students take it out at the urging of their Special Ed teachers. The library offers a variety of Audiobooks including Playaways which are self-contained MP3 players. 
AT software was once available on the library computers. I looked for it the other day, and didn't find it. I do not know much about it. One program will read passages aloud to students, and there is a graphic organizer program, which our staff had PD on years ago. A couple of students have school-owned iPads that are distributed through SPED. There are "Alphasmart" keyboards stored in my back closet. They do not circulate. Other than housing and circulating the materials, I do not have much exposure to AT.Our school-wide AT seems to focus on struggling readers and students who need better organization skills.

I know of a student at our school who has given her teachers a microphone that works directly with something she wears. I heard a staff member mention it in the staff room.

For students who use it, the technology is beneficial. My greatest challenge is awareness/exposure. Most of us are not trained or don't even think about offering it to students. Classroom teachers leave it to SPED. I look forward to learning more about it this semester.

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