Integrating Assistive Technology into School, Work, Home

What is "integration", and how is it different from "training"?

Training teaches one how to operate the technology's various features -- what are a device's or software's capabilities, how to invoke them, etc.  Integration involves how to apply those features to a particular task to achieve the desired results, and fitting the tools into one's school, work, and home life.

I like to differentiate between training and integration to highlight the importance of addressing both.  It’s one thing to know how to "use" technology -- how to operate it.  It's quite another to know how to "make use of" the technology -- how to apply it to become a better reader, more effective writer, and successful learner.  

For example, how might one use the highlighting, annotation, and text extraction features of high-end reading and writing programs (Kurzweil 3000, WYNN, others) to increase comprehension and retention?  How can a student use a graphic organizer program like Inspiration to become a better notetaker?  How might a student use speech recognition in conjunction with other AT software?  Without knowing how to apply them effectively, technology features become interesting but unhelpful bells and whistles.

Integration also includes fitting use of the device or software into the classroom environment (or wherever it will be used) and blending it with instructional methods in order maximize the benefit and avoid creating problems -- e.g., distracting other students.

Developing application strategies collaboratively

Strategies work best when they address the needs of all involved.  I work with students, teachers, and tutors to develop strategies which take advantage of specific AT features.  In this way, the technology solution is personalized to meet each student's needs, learning style, and preferences, as well as fit the instructional environment.

Making Your Assistive Technology "Work"

Does your assistive technology "work" -- that is, does it give you the results you want?  Assistive technology (AT) is more than just the tangible devices and software -- it's also the proper selection, skills training, application strategies, and technical support necessary to produce results.  If your technology tools are falling short of expectations, you may be missing one of more of the following services.  Read more here...

Less struggle.

More learning.

 

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Rachael M. Haven, ATP, RET
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