Integrating assistive technology into the classroom: a program for teacher professional development
Bailey, Theresa Ann
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Occupational therapists work in the school setting as related service providers, helping those students with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) access their special education curriculum. As part of the development of the IEP process, each student is supposed to be assessed for the need for assistive technology to support their educational program (United States Department of Education, n.d.). Assessing for student needs in assistive technology falls within the occupational therapy scope of practice under communication management, one area of independent activities of daily living (AOTA, 2014). However, many students do not have their assistive technology needs identified and met. Additionally, many teachers working with students with disabilities do not have access to the ongoing training necessary to integrate and use assistive technology in the classroom (Basham, Israel, Graden, Poth, & Winston, 2010; Connor, Snell, Gansneder, & Dexter, 2010; Okolo & Diedrich, 2014; Quinn, Behrmann, Mastropieri, & Chung, 2009). “Integrating Assistive Technology into the Classroom: A Program for Teacher Professional Development” was created by an occupational therapist with experience working in the school setting, including assessing students for assistive technology needs and supporting teachers, students and classrooms in using assistive technology. The goals of the project are to 1) provide classroom teachers with the tools necessary to use different types of assistive technology in the classroom and 2) address the needs of diverse learners so that all students are able to successfully participate in their educational program. The program incorporates strategies from adult learning theory and strategies for effective teacher professional development to ensure program success. The program is an innovative, evidence-based approach to teacher professional development in the use and integration of assistive technology in the classroom. It has the potential to become a model for professional development in the area of assistive technology use in the school setting.