Assistive Technology Tool - Aisha Alteneiji
What is Assistive Technology?
Assistive Technology (AT) includes both devices and services. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines an AT device as 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. Devices can replace a missing limb, help prevent the worsening of a condition, help improve physical functioning, help improve a person's capacity to learn, or strengthen a physical or other weakness.
Academic Use of Kurzweil 3000
he Kurzweil 3000 is a leader in TTS software for individuals that struggle with literacy. In addition to a range of TTS features, the full-featured software program integrates abilities that can help students in other areas, potentially appealing to those who may have a non-print disability or those who may not typically consider a TTS program.
Kurzweil 3000 Accommodates Learning Goals
The Kurzweil 3000 strives to provide students with a multi-sensory approach to literacy learning. It is available for Windows and Macintosh.
Graphic organizers can be effective in helping students to organize their thoughts during the writing process. As an assistive technology, graphic organizers can be a strong choice for students with dysgraphia or disorders of written expressions — particularly the conceptual aspects of writing.
Graphic organizers work by helping the student map out a course of action. Depending on the type of writing, the graphic organizer can prompt the writer to describe an object, chart out a course of events or perform some other task that can help in planning the piece. Graphic organizers vary by type and technological sophistication.
Classroom Implementation Strategies
Training requirements for teachers/students/parents
Training is an on-going process. Experience shows that in addition to formal training, teachers and students need follow-up/refresher training to become proficient with all aspects of the product. They also require support and some initial classroom handholding to integrate the software into their daily curriculum. Districts find it helpful to include an IT specialist in the initial training to provide on-site support for minor technical problems. When developing the training component of your implementation plan:
- Develop a calendar of all training sessions, both staff and students.
- Determine the method of delivery for training (e.g. Kurzweil on-site workshop, Kurzweil online trainings, in-services, after- school workshops, etc.)
- Determine who will deliver training for staff and for students. Kurzweil Educational Systems has professional trainers who can provide teacher/staff training. Once trained, teachers, paraprofessionals or fellow students can train students.
- If possible, design hands-on training to match your site or district’s goals. Prioritize the agenda topics (i.e., reading, writing, scanning, study skills, test taking, etc.) according to project goals and objectives, and train staff (and subsequently students) at regular intervals. This enables teachers and students to learn key skills and immediately apply what they have learned in the classroom. Giving teachers and students specific assignments to complete to help them start using the software in the classroom.
- Schedule Kurzweil 3000 Foundations and Advanced Workshops for your teachers and staff with a Kurzweil 3000 training specialist, or plan to deliver your own training.
- Schedule on-site/in-classroom follow-up following training.
Ways to use in an inclusion setting
In the BC UDL Project, Kurzweil was introduced as an embedded classroom support for multiple students rather than an accommodation for a particular student.
As Edyburn (2010) points out, when assistive technology is provided as an accommodation, recipients sometimes need to go to another location to use the accommodation. In a classroom where Kurzweil is available as an embedded support, the student who would benefit from using Kurzweil does not need to go elsewhere to use the software, missing in-class instruction. The student does not draw special attention to him or herself by being the only user. This is an especially sensitive issue at middle school and high school where technology is provided as a “one-of” accommodation and the student does not want to be perceived as different. When Kurzweil is available to all, especially when it is being used by the teacher for whole-class instruction, there is no stigma attached to using Kurzweil as a special needs tool; it is simply a tool available to anyone in the class. Making Kurzweil available as a general classroom tool may help address a problem in assistive technology known as “abandonment” in which well-meaning adults have strongly advocated for a technology that the student refuses to use.
Using Kurzweil 3000 with Other Tools
All students, regardless of their differing learning styles and abilities, need access to the curriculum. Give students the opportunity to use Kurzweil 3000 by itself, or Kurzweil 3000 in conjunction with other technology such as voice recognition; graphic organizers; digital whiteboards; and alternative keyboards, computer access and augmentative communication devices. This allows teachers to provide all of their students with access to the curriculum as well as integrate universally designed teaching techniques into their classrooms.
About Kurzweil Company
Kurzweil Education was founded in 1996. The roots of the company extend back to 1976 and the introduction of the world's first reading system, the Kurzweil Reading Machine. Today, the company is recognized as the leading developer of literacy technology for people with learning difficulties and those who are blind or visually impaired. We offer products that bring the power and pleasure of reading and learning to the lives of users.
In 2005, Kurzweil Education was acquired by Cambium Learning, known as Cambium Learning Group. Cambium Learning leverages technology and a focus on student-centered, personalized learning to serve the world's students across age and grade spans and curriculum content areas. Our family of companies is focused on learners' growth and the education market's growing segments. With Learning A-Z, ExploreLearning, Kurzweil Education and Voyager Sopris Learning, we deliver technology tools, resources, professional development, and administrative supports that give students the opportunity to reach the potential that is uniquely their own. In math, reading, English Language Arts, science, special education and professional learning, Cambium solutions close performance gaps and transform struggling students into proficient, confident learners.
Together we have dedicated our resources and energy to help teachers support, challenge, and guide students to succeed as learners and contributors to their families, professions and communities
Your IT specialist should discuss your software needs and review technical requirements of the software with your local reseller or Kurzweil Educational Systems representative. They will recommend the most cost effective software configuration for supporting as many students as possible and will ensure that the software is compatible with your existing hardware and network or with planned hardware and network purchases. Experienced school systems using Kurzweil 3000 recommend purchasing the web license-based software since it provides the greatest flexibility for student use, sharing scanned and digital materials, and upgrading the software.