Every year I have parents call and ask how to approach the subject of assistive technology with their child’s teacher. Many parents are nervous to advocate for their child when it pertains to teachers implementing technology into lessons and classroom activities. Most parents will loudly protest to their child not getting enough time for a test, but become shy navigating the grey world of technology.
Parents have told me that teachers misunderstand how assistive technology is truly individualized. Many teachers feel that their lesson plans already include using the Chromebook and that the individual student’s needs will adequately be met with the presence of technology. Parents should ask the teacher to demonstrate the technology he or she will be using during instruction. Allowing the teacher to share their perspective and insights will help the parent and the teacher start a discussion.
In schools where the student is transitioning from one classroom to the next, the teachers often do not permit the technology to be used in a consistent manner. Some can even omit the technology from the classroom during classes that are considered electives. Health classes, music, and art are often overlooked the most. This can be helped by creating a list of the technology your child uses and when they benefit from the support. For example, the type of audio program used when your child needs access to a textbook. You may need to have your case manager or teacher from the previous year create this document.
Parents must become more comfortable speaking up and sharing what their child needs and how it impacts their learning. Begin each school year with a meeting with all teachers that interact with your child. Bring the technology and demonstrate how your child uses it best. Point out times when your child was more successful or gained confidence with the supports you are demonstrating. Explain that your child already knows how to use the technology and can work independently once they understand the assignment. Having a teacher from the previous year provide a testimonial may increase the probability of the new teachers buying into the potential of success with technology supports.
Keep in mind that many teachers want their students to be successful and independent. Do not confuse their lack of comfort with your child’s technology with their unwillingness to meet the needs of your child. Assistive technology supports for children eligible for special education services includes training for the child and staff at no cost to the parents. Individual evaluations should also be conducted to determine which technology will have the largest impact.
As always, Learning for Tomorrow NJ is here to provide evaluations, staff training, and individualized instruction. Feel free to call or email for additional support.