A Longitudinal Case Study on the Use of Assistive Technology to Support Cognitive Processes across Formal and Informal Educational Settings

A Longitudinal Case Study on the Use of Assistive Technology to Support Cognitive Processes across Formal and Informal Educational Settings

Vivian Johnson (Hamline University, USA) and Carol Price (Hamline University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-817-3.ch013
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Abstract

This chapter describes a chronology of increasingly sophisticated technological supports and interventions used across complex formal and informal educational settings with a 10th grade female student who has documented learning challenges. A progression from low technology devices to computerized, high technology assistive devices are employed to provide access to materials and to academic information over a period of 10 years. Understanding both the inner and outer context of this learner’s environment provides the reader with a background to process the progression of the use, improvement, and availability of assistive technology in the life of this user.
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Theoretical Framework

The female learner in this case study was born in 1992 and major pieces of legislation that define the context of her learning environment started in 1965 when the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was initiated. This legislation did little in terms of addressing accommodations to assist learners with special needs. It did, however, mandate the annual assessment in reading and mathematics of students who received services under Title I. Following ESEA for 10 years, children enrolled in special education classes were segregated from general education classes, save for classes in art, music, and physical education (ESEA, n.d.). During this time, students with significant cognitive disabilities were segregated from general education classes. The first legislative move toward equity for students with disabilities occurred in 1975 with the passage of Public Law 94-142 (Education of All Handicapped Children Act), codified as IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) in 1997. Congress mandated that for states to receive federal funds, they must develop and implement policies that assure a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to all children with disabilities. The state plans must be consistent with the federal statute, Title 20 United States Code Section 1400 et.seq. (20 USC 1400).

Assistive technology appears in the law in 1992 with the passage of the Technology Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act. This act provides financial support and assistance to states to support system change and advocacy for AT, which “it further defines any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities [20 U.S. C. Chapter 33, Section 1401 (250)].”

In 1994, accountability for student progress appears as the Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994 (IASA). This law shifts the focus of testing from individual student gains to looking at all students against state standards, and requires that valid and reliable tests be provided in reading/language arts and mathematics at least once in each of three grade spans from grades 3-12. In 1995, IDEA reinforced the requirement for states to provide FAPE to children with disabilities in the least restrictive environment (LRE). In addition, it empowers parents and the local educational agency to make appropriate decisions about what constitutes Legislation of 1997 through 2001 applied only to students enrolled in public schools. Children in parochial or private institutions did not receive benefit from these laws. Emma is one such child.

The Assistive Technology Act of 2004 ensures that individuals with disabilities have access to the technologies they need to help them in school, at home, at work, and in the community. The Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Act of 2004, passed by Congress, was designed to improve learning outcomes for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities; made the language and intent of IDEA 2004 consistent with NCLB; and ensured access to technology for individuals with disabilities.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Interactive Metronome: A timing instrument used in therapy to improve planning and sequencing by using neuro-sensory and neuro-motor exercises.

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE): The right of all children with disabilities to be educated along with their non-disabled peers.

High Technology Device: Electronic and computerized equipment or software that provides access to print or virtual material (e.g., text reader, electronic dictionary, computer, etc).

Case Study: A flexible qualitative research approach that uses multiple data sources in investigating a question.

Cognitive Process: Concepts of knowledge and the way individuals use that knowledge.

Service Providers: Individuals who provide services to students with disabilities who have been identified as meeting requirements for services under IDEA 2007 (e.g., occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, adaptive physical education teachers, etc.).

Assistive Technology (AT): “[A]ny item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities” [20 U.S. C. Chapter 33, Section 1401 (250)].

Language Immersion Camp: All-inclusive language, culture, and learning programs that foster literacy understanding through communication and cultural activities.

Low Technology Device: Non-electronic educational supports that help the learning process (e.g. a highlighter, a pencil grip, a slotted window page cover, a paper dictionary, etc.).

Narrative: Report that uses direct observational data to provide rich and detailed descriptions of learner progress to inform instructions and programming.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): A provision of the law that allows students with disabilities to be educated with their non-disabled peers.

Individual Education Plan (IEP): A prescribed program of instruction for students with disabilities who meet the requirements for services under IDEA.

Accommodations: Changes in instructional media or processes to provide all learners, especially those with disabilities, full access to the information.

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