The new affordability of e-readers makes them a viable option for the classroom.
Parette and Stoner (2007) emphasize that teachers share a critical responsibility for "effectively preparing all young children [emphasis theirs] to develop important readiness and literacy skills enabling them to successfully participate in public school settings." The AT tookit is one means to ensure that educators have the skills they need to help their students. Parette and Stoner also described the effectiveness of AT user groups, which allow teachers and paraprofessionals to meet with their peers and exchange ideas. Educators can talk about their professional development needs as well various AT applications and their implementation into the curriculum. The groups provide a forum for individuals to learn new skills, enjoy some guided practice, and perhaps explore new products in a setting other than their own classrooms. The authors reported that, although more research is needed, teachers who attended AT user groups reported significant positive child outcomes in behavior, attending and communication. It makes sense that educators who can use tools knowledgeably and with confidence can have a positive effect on their students.
Judge, S., Floyd, K., Jeffs, T. (2008). Using an assistive technology toolkit to promote inclusion.
Early Childhood Education Journal 36(2), pp. 121-126.
Parette, H., Blum, C., & Boeckmann, N. (2009). Evaluating assistive technology in early
childhood education: the use of a concurrent time series probe approach. Early Childhood
Education Journal 37(1), pp. 5-12.
Parette, H.P., & Stoner, J.B. (2007). Benefits of assisting technology user groups for early childhood education. Early Childhood Education Journal 35(4), pp. 313-319).
TASK 2: The U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) supports activities to encourage and support AT re-use under the Assistive Technology Act. OSERS sponsors a national conference on this issue and makes grants to state agencies, non-profit organizations, and similar entities to support AT reuse.
OSERS basic founding law can be found in the following section of the U.S. Code:
U.S. Code: Title 20, Chapter 48, Subchapter II, Section 3417. Office of Special
Education and Rehabilitative Services
There shall be in the Department an Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative
Services, to be administered by the Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services appointed under section 3412(b) of this title. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 3472 of this title, the Secretary shall delegate to the Assistant
Secretary all functions, other than administrative and support functions, transferred to the Secretary under sections 3441(a)(1) of this title (with respect to the bureau for the education and training of the handicapped), 3441(a)(2)(H) of this title, and 3441(a)(4) of this title.
It is especially helpful to know about OSERS if one plans to teach in a low-income school, whether it is in a rural or urban setting. AT devices can be expensive, and even the costs of a number of relatively inexpensive AT's, such as the ones mentioned for the toolkit (Task 1) can add up, placing a further burden on already strained school budgets. The Pass It On Center (http://www.passitoncenter.org) is creating national and state resources to foster the appropriate reuse of ATs. They do this in a number of ways, including the creation of a national network of information sharing, technical assistance and support to new and current programs, building relationships with AT vendors and manufacturers, maintaining a database of reuse programs and tool assessments so users can become better informed, developing collaboration between public and private organizations, and promoting public awareness of the economic and environmental benefits of AT reuse.
In California, there are thirteen locations providing reuseable AT products. The law does not explicitly state that resources can only be used in the state in which they were procured. However, entries on California's Pass It On link indicated that items were limited by county in twelve instances, and by locale in the thirteenth. It makes sense that items purchased with state dollars should remain in the state.
National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials (2011). California. Retrieved from http://aim.cast.org/learn/policy/state/california
Pass It On Center. (n.d.). California. Retrieved from http://passitoncenter.org/locations