Friday, August 3, 2012

Assistive Technology Case Studies








Assistive Technology Case Studies

Megan Smith

EDU:620 Meeting Individual Student Needs with Technology
Professor Berger

July 2012





















Throughout this six week course, Meeting Individual Needs with Technology, we have researched the spectrums of Assistive Technology available for the individual and the classroom, and researched the different types of disabilities and how the Assistive Technology can aid students in navigating life and succeeding as an individuals.

Case Study #1
Emily is a five-year-old female student who is visually impaired. Emily has low vision and has some independence. She is able to see letters and numbers with amplification. In the past, Emily has been enrolled in a Head Start class with typical peers. Emily experienced great success in her preschool classroom. She had access to assistive technology that assisted her in participating in most activities within the class. Emily will be starting kindergarten in the fall. She will be in a general education class with typical peers. Emily’s parents, and her IEP team, expect her to be fully included in most activities. Please describe assistive technologies that will allow Emily to have access to grade level content and to participate with her peers in the classroom.

For Emily’s case, with her weak vision she would be considered to have a sensory disability, or visual impairment which would effect her academics, and keep her from the average experience of a typical student in a day of the average life. Fortunately, for both visual and auditory sensory impairments, Assistive Technology and the innovations continually developing within elements of Assistive Technology. Ultimately, Emily’s impairment does effect or impact her learning experiences, and in order to enhance her experience we have a variety of technical options. To begin with, I would give the classroom access to audio books and eBooks. Lectures would be adjusted according to the readings, but the whole class would listen to the readings from the textbook together as a class, and then would also be able to listen to the readings on their own times if needed to be reviewed again. In a recent article, Audiobooks and Ebooks, authors states, “

In "Special Needs/Special Places," in Reading and Reader Development, Judith Elkin brings an international research oriented perspective to this discussion. Elkin's focus is readers' advisory for patrons with special needs, which she defines broadly: "The range in disabilities is wide and includes motor, visual, aural, intellectual and emotional. Many of us probably have disabilities which are not even acknowledged as such. "Many of the readers included in this category are best served with audiovisual materials and, in particular, audio books,”( Moyer, 2012). As electronic textbook becomes more common, they will eventually replace hard textbooks entirely, but for the transitional time being, for those with visual impairment or other impairments can blend with the changes, and adjust alongside classmates and peers. The audio abilities, along with assistance from technological capacities of the eBooks and audio books, students will being to all experience them on a regular basis. In the textbook, it states, “As discussed previously, a student who uses e-books can break the words into syllables to stimulate pronunciation of the word. The student may vocalize some sounds more easily than others. If lectures are recorded for audio playback, students can be encouraged to vocalize certain words on the tape when cued to do so by the person doing the recording,”(p 119). In addition to helping Emily to have easy access to audio versions of the texts, the AT can also assist other students, with issues such as word recognition and pronunciation of words. With time, these eBooks and audio books will become a regular part of the general classroom.

One really important technology for Emily to begin to understand and develop upon regular uses would be learning and training to read Braille. Since she is only a kindergartner, she should just now be learning to read Braille, as well as look into future investments in easy access machines like the Braille laptop, which potentially works as a translator of texts into Braille, giving no limitations to what can be printed or interpreted into Braille. Sources online are available, such as National Braille Factory, amongst many others. Braille with be a huge part of her future and the earlier she is able to take advantage, then the better for her future in education.

Another Assistive Technology to assist Emily in textbook and classroom materials accessibility would be the Handheld Video Enlargement Device, which is a portable vision enhancer, that Emily can use to assist with visual fields that she otherwise would be limited to seeing due to limited visual capacities. The Florida School of Deaf an d Blind, described it as follows, “Handheld Video Enlargement Devices are easily carried with little stress or restraint, often times fitting into purses or backpacks. They offer additional light sources with varied background and foreground color choices to optimize figure or ground contrasts. They have additional light sources and built in writing stands and various zoom capabilities,”(FSDB 2011, January 9). A device like this, portable and affordable, would be a good investment for Emily’s future, and can give her immediate and easy access to vision field adjustments that would allow her to see images that otherwise would be invisible with her limited visual capacities. In the textbook, authors states, “All sensory impairments have the potential to affect how a student learns. The impairments may range from mild to severe. The age of onset is a major factor in determining how the student communicates and learns. This chapter defines and describes visual impairment, hearing impairment, deaf–blindness, and the assistive technology (AT) that may allow the student with such a disability to succeed in the general education curriculum, (p.125). So these gadgets or system may be simple additions to some students, for other students with disabilities is changing the world for them, giving them less limitations and more potential to achieve equal academic success as other peers with the same amount of courage and confidence.


Case Study #2

David is a third-grade student who has been identified as having a specific learning disability in the areas of reading and written language. During David’s last formal assessment, he was identified as reading two years below grade level. Through the assessment process it was discovered that he had particular difficulty with word identification and comprehension. Also, David refuses to write. When given classroom writing prompts, David will often write only one sentence. Interestingly, when given the opportunity to verbally respond to the prompt, his answers are comprehensive and meet grade level standards for content. Please identify several assistive technologies that may support David in reading and writing.

Mild learning disability particularly with balancing skill levels of both reading and writing. This type of disability is minor and most likely will not directly effect David until he is much older. Being only a minor set back, luckily there are still varieties of assistive technologies that could assist in bridging his writing gap and balancing his writing and reading skills to work in conjunction with other peers his age and activities and academia for his age group. When it comes to education and learning, everything single simple disability can hold normal children back from completing normal academic tasks and blending amongst other students. In the textbook it states, “An impairment in the ability to receive, send, process, and comprehend concepts or verbal, nonverbal, and graphic symbol systems. A communication disorder may be evident in the processes of hearing, language, and/or speech. A communication disorder may range in severity from mild to profound. It may be developmental or acquired. Individuals may demonstrate one or any combination of communication disorders. A communication disorder may result in a primary disability or it may be secondary to other disabilities,” (p. 40). The set back of not understanding concepts of writing in conjunction with speaking is easily remedied if discovered at a young enough age. Since writing is a communication methods, particularly more often in the future with technological advancements

One example of assistive technology for David’s case would be a software device program called ‘Organization Draft: Builder-Writing graphic organizer software’ The software is designed to assist students by breaking down the processes of writing and structure into set guidelines that can be followed by students whom have difficulty conceptualizing the ideas without some framework to work upon. The programs lays out frameworks and offer other methods of lessons and practices that may be more suitable for someone with a certain disability.

AT for communication disabilities.

Another potential AT would by the Ipad. The relatively new hand held touch computers are changing lives for people all over the globe, of all ages, in all academic disciplines. In an article titled ,A Breakthrough for Josh: How Use of an iPad Facilitated Reading Improvement, author states, “The manipulative touch screen promotes the use of several modalities(Raggi & Chronis, 2006), especially visual and tactile/kinesthetic. The added aspect of recording their own reading and being able to play it back and hear there own mistakes while looking at the text (Chalmers, 1991) may have enabled students to integrate the aural modality with the visual and tactile/kinesthetic more readily and effectively,(May 2012). Upon studying various methods through additional sessions with students having ADHD, there were able to show amazing responses in terms of focus, attention, and interest of materials when able to directly navigate or control/design there very own experience and use tools to assist with the odd gaps of understanding that separate students from similar peers.

Another AT device for David, would be a speech recognition software combined with software for dyslexic writers: SpeechMaster (Dragon NaturallySpeaking combined with KeyStone ScreenSPeaker) In a lecture from the Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities Website, lecturer states, “The latest and most rapidly expanding technology for struggling writers is speech recognition software, which converts language into printed text. In newer versions, speech detection accuracy is nearly perfect for students who receive appropriate training and have the right equipment. As a positive side benefit, students that become accustomed to dictating specific punctuation often grow more attuned to grammatical concepts in general,”(Shelly Knapp). A device like this could assist David with writing blockages. His case study mentioned that he can speak fluently and thoroughly on issues, but writing more than a sentence is a struggle. This would assist with delays in conceptualizing writing methods, by structuring what he speaks out loud into written form simultaneously. The software can help David to connect the methods and improve in writing at his grade level, and also help him at home and on his own time away from the classroom. He can become a more confident speaker and see how it structures itself, and also gain reading skills through seeing the written and verbal pattern connections.


Case Study #3

Michael is a ten-year-old boy who has a diagnosis of autism. He has little language and will often act out when he does not get what he wants. His behavior includes throwing items, hitting, and biting. His IEP identifies the use of tangibles and the computer as a way to reinforce appropriate behavior. Michael’s teacher is looking for ways to increase his communication and to motivate him to behave appropriately in class. Please identify assistive technologies that can support Michael in class.
For Michael this learning disability is a combination of a high-incident and behavior emotional learning disability. High Incident Disability generally require professional assistance for success in education. In our textbook, it states, “The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act recognizes the five developmental domains of adaptive, cognitive, communication, physical, and social and emotional development. A child who has a significant developmental domain in one or more of the domains is eligible to receive early intervention services or preschool special education services,” (p.66). Therefore, he will have access to professional assistances, including a wide variety of internet sources available, one example is the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association This is one site where there are developing methods and professionals at work for children with such issues, and they are available for students with disabilities as they endeavor a normal education. These professionals work with all sorts of communication and developmental issues to innovate methods to assist these types of children. The textbook states, “Understanding communications requires that professionals comprehend the components of typically developing speech .and language and the components of communication disorders. Often, students who have autism appear to develop typically for the first few years of life, but then they do not progress through the developmental milestones as typically developing children do,”(p.105). These online resources offer several options when research disabilities, and particularly autism, and with extra funded assistances, children have the chance to blend with peers of their age groups, instead of being separated as someone with a disability. Most likely he will also require a speech-language pathologist to maintain appropriate use of AT devices or other internet source devices.

Another device that would be good for the case of Michael, in the classroom, would be the Smartboard. With a smart board, there are more options and tools and colors, at a larger scale, where teachers can utilize creative ways to keep the attention of their students. Smartboards offer varieties of interactive possibilities, and allow for the navigation of the board to be passed around the room to anyone. In an essay from a Science Journal, titled Impact of SMART Board Technology: An Investigation of Sight Word Reading and Observational Learning, authors state, “One possible reason for the positive effects of the procedure was the ability of SMART Board technology to present information (in this study text and photographs) on a large interactive touch screen within a group arrangement. With this format, students can readily view computer presented information on a large screen which traditionally has been presented on a small computer monitor. Results support the large screen for delivering target information and learning of other students’ information by making images more visible and increasing attention to the task,”( p.1879, Linda C. Mechling Æ David L. Gast Æ Kristin Krupa). Since the Smartboards have so many ways visually recreated lessons and objectives, the teacher can indirectly work more with Michael, by including him in the creativity, and with new and unusually attention keeping methods to teach entire classroom. It blends all students, and keeps the attention of those who struggle more successfully than conventional lecture methods.

Another effective AT for Michael, even in the classroom, would be the iPad.

In an article from The Indian Express: The Journalism of Courage, titled In iPad, autistic children find a rewarding, learning tool, article states, “For some children, the iPad is like a walk in the garden — it de-stresses and entertains. Mayank Misra, a 10-year-old non-verbal child, counts strawberries and grapes on an iPad. “He is going through a low, he has been reticent of late,” says Sonal Joshi, staff member. Despite being good at typing, maths and pattern recognition, a moody Mayank refuses to go anywhere near a PC. “He likes to sit here on this bench and play games on the iPad,” Joshi says,”(V. Shoba). It seems that through many studies the iPad technology has managed to capture and keep the attention of autistic students, when regular classroom methods were intimidating or ineffective. Many case studies prove great increase in scores and abilities of students whom utilize the iPad applications for enhancing struggling areas in general education. It gives a child more control over the design and outcome of learning processes and without a doubt would make uneasiness and impatience disintegrate with a positive distracter in their young hands. Classroom activities can be designed around Ipads and in the future we may be able to fund them for the entire classroom.


Case Study #4
Holly is a sixteen-year-old female student in the eleventh grade. Holly suffers from cerebral palsy and attends school through a combination of online and physical campus. Holly is currently enrolled in English, math, social studies, and several electives. She is close to grade level in all subject areas. Holly has a desire to attend college after high school. Please describe the types of assistive technology that can be used to provide her with access in the online environment. Also, what types of technology can be used to support Holly in her transition to college?

Since the case study mentioned nothing about mental disabilities, this case of disability would be considered an orthopedic impairment, and still effects education in terms of mobility, agility, functionally, and requires additional assistances to be completely successful. In the textbook, it states, “Orthopedic impairment means a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by a congenital anomaly, impairments caused by disease (e.g., poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures). (34 C.F.R., Sec. 300.8[c][8]).” The textbook continues on the same page, “Educators and agencies serve students with traumatic brain injury, severe and multiple disabilities, and other health impairment as they would serve students having any physical disabilities. In fact, the term physical disabilities may refer to a large number of students who have different characteristics. When a student has an orthopedic impairment that involves the skeletal system or servomotor impairment that involves the central nervous system and the ability to move, feel, and/or control parts of the body,”(p. 188). For the case of Holly her limitation is physical and effects her mobility, nonetheless she wants to achieve a higher education on a campus, and fortunately there are many devices and programs that can help her along her way. There are new technologies online to assist her with online courses, and other assistances for when she is able to attend campus setting classrooms.

As the educators we would want to know what type of cerebral palsy she has, and how it effects her the most. For this case it could be mobility and motor abilities. One AT available would be the FrogPag, which is a one-handed keyboard adaptable to UDB ports, PDA’s, Ipads, tablets, other miniature PC’s, and would allow her the opportune to complete assignments and tasks with just one hand. In the article, Fast Typing? Thumb-itis? 40 WPM in 3 WEEKS! FrogPad and De Marque, “FrogPad is a great tool for students with disabilities. In an education system where inclusion and mainstreaming have become very popular practices, FrogPad further enables students with disabilities to function normally in a regular classroom. Its design allows students to type quickly using only one hand, and its size makes it easily portable as well as hardly noticeable to others. Students also love the fun nature of the keyboard with its bright color and cute logo. Most students have referred it to as “cool”. Think of the impact this keyboard makes for children with Dysgraphia and Cerebral Palsy,”(May 6, 2012, Mac World (PRWEB),

Oil and Gas News, Opinions and Analysis). She could use this for lecture notes while attending lectures, since it is portable, and also utilize this at home when studying or writing essays. FrogPad is affordable, adaptable, and makes it easier for a case like Holly’s to maintain normal learning and writing methods without exhausting herself physically. She could cut down time frames for paper writing and simplify other technical aspects that could slow her down and potential disrupt the flow of her education.

Another device to help Holly would be any handheld technology, such as android, iphone, tablets, or iPad, where she could access all necessary information from most locations, and have navigational applications, and many other features to assist her with college living and independent living. In the article, ‘Higher Education Faculty Name Six Popular Uses for Mobile Devices‘, January 7, 2011, author states, “iPhones, iPads and other mobile devices are popular on campus with both students and faculty. A recent article in the online edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education describes six popular uses for this mobile technology in colleges and universities. The six higher education scenarios address teaching, learning, scholarship and classroom management: taking attendance, collecting data, reading scholarly articles, recording notes, using textbook tools, and planning,”(By. Andy Bovey). So the Ipad helps both educators and students to maintain different levels of educational learning and processing in the palm of the hand. With the touch screen technologies sweeping the world, it seems to almost cater to all disabilities in one way or another. For Holly, she can transport it to class with her, and she can also keep lecture notes, do her research, and keep written papers in one compact machine that is flexible, functional, and easy to physically operate. The pad is a quick access to information, easier to transport than a laptop, with features that are easy to navigate in a classroom setting or when at home studying.

For students with disabilities there are a lots of rights and accommodations available to assist with education. In the textbook, it states, “The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act recognizes the five developmental domains of adaptive, cognitive, communication, physical, and social and emotional development. A child who has a significant developmental domain in one or more of the domains is eligible to receive early intervention services or preschool special education services,”(p. 66). Holly will need to research what right she has under the law when it comes to higher education and a physical disability such as cerebral palsy. Websites are available for her to research, such as Family Village:, are available for global research for internet communication information resources for people struggling and living with a disability. They can help her understand what is available for support and help make suggestions to get her started in the right direction. Cerebral Palsy can be a very serious, very debilitating illness, both physically and neurologically, and it is important for students with this condition to consider their health as primary and utilize what is technologically available for them with assistance in higher education. Another online source for Holly, United Cerebral Palsy: This website will give Holly access to assistances for education and living and health and employment for people of all ages struggling with the effects of cerebral palsy. She can acquire assistance from experts, who know the most about what is available for her, and can lead her in the best direction for decision making in education while coping with illness such as cerebral palsy. They can give her bridges of information from their experiences with similar case in similar educational settings. These online sources can work as potential supports for students and young adult and parents.

Technology is changing the limitations life has handed people with disabilities, especially in the learning and education environments, and the future will only unravel more innovations that will wipe our former definitions of disabilities out from under the tables. It is empowering to be a student at this time in the world, and to want to become an educator, to know, that all students of all races or personalities can eventually be considered equals and be part of a network of classrooms like all other students. Educations and its limitations are changing rapidly, and we may learn more about these students with disabilities in the future, then they might ever learn from us.



Audiobooks and EBooks, Moyer, Jessica E. Reference & User Services Quarterly; Summer 2012, Vol. 51 Issue 4, p340-354, 15 page.

Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. (2011, January 9). Laptops, Braille Displays, Screen Readers, and Screen Enlargement [Pod cast]. Retrieved from

Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. (2011, January 9). Handheld Video Enlargement Devices [Pod cast]. Retrieved from enlargement devices/id399608038?i=90283367.

Assistive Technology for Students with Visual Impairments: Challenges

and Needs in Teachers' Preparation Programs and Practice

Li Zhou, Amy T. Parker, Derrick W. Smith, and Nora Griffin-Shirley

Source: Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness. Date: April 1, 2011.

Impact of SMART Board Technology: An Investigation of Sight Word Reading and Observational Learning .Published online: 9 March 2007.Springer Science Business Media, LLC 2007,Linda C. Mechling Æ David L. Gast Æ Kristin Krupa.

Beard, L.A., Carpenter, L.B., & Johnston, L.B. (2011). Assistive Technology: Access for all Students (2nd ed.). Boston: Pearson.

A Breakthrough for Josh: How Use of an iPad Facilitated Reading Improvement.: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning. May2012, Vol. 56 Issue 3, p20-28. 9p. By: McClanahan, Barbara; Williams, Kristen; Kennedy, Ed; Tate, Susan.).

Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities Website: High-Tech Help for Reading and Writing

By. Sheryl Knapp. The following information is based on a presentation by Shelley , Lacey-Castelot, ATACP, MS for Smart Kids with LD.

The Indian Express: The Journalism of Courage, titled In iPad, autistic children find a rewarding, learning tool,. author V Shoba : Bangalore, Thu Sep 29 2011.

Oil and Gas News, Opinions and Analysis: Fast Typing? Thumb-itis? 40 WPM in 3 WEEKS! FrogPad and De Marque. May 6, 2012Mac World (PRWEB) January 14, 2008.

Online iPad Academy: Higher Education Faculty Name Six Popular Uses for Mobile Devices,Written by Andy Brovey, Friday, January 7, 2011.

Family Village:,

United Cerebral Palsy: channel.cfr/1/11 .

No comments:

Post a Comment