Assistive Technology Interview

Interview with Carmen Stephens & Marian Roldan

EDU 620

Instructor Deborah Naughton

December 1, 2014

Interview Summary

I interviewed two different positions for the purpose of this interview to gather the best results. I interviewed Carmen Stephens whom is the Early Childhood Education Coordinator for Head Start of Lane County. I also interviewed Mariann Roldan who is the Lead Teacher for the low ratio classroom for one of the classrooms at Delight Valley Head Start. This flyer will summarize the findings and explain how what I have learned from this interview will help me to grow as a professional in my current role as a Head Start teacher and how instructional technology will enhance the learning expirance of my current and future students, especially my students who have an IFSP.
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Interview Questions

Choice of Technology and Population Served

At Head Start of Lane County they typically serve low income families who are aged three to five. They students served are typicaly devloping as well as English Language Learners.

The asstitive equipment most often used is given to students as needed or requested by teachers unless they are on an IFSP and Early Childhood Cares will provide the equipment as they partner with HSOLC in a consultant model. The process for getting equipment for students differs if the student has an IFSP.

Some of the assistive technology that is utilized at HSOLC are wiggle cushions, Therabands, choice cars (made with board maker), feeling cards and first and than boards. Since HSOLC serves children who have an IFSP these students may require adaptive equipment. Carmen reports that some adaptive equipment that has been utilized for students are weighted blankets, loop scissors, body socks, toddler therapeutic hand cycle, balance disc, weighted vest, Jett step, foot rest, sensory balls, sensory toys, and headphones.

How is Technology Implemented?

Carmen and Mariann report that implementing the adaptive equipment depends on the type of the equipment that is being used. For example, they reported that if a weighted pencil or loop scissors or tilted desk are required the teacher will get these items from Carmen who would have gotten than from EcCares. The teacher would than receive some training from Carmen who would also assist the student in becoming acclimated to the device who would eventually leave it to the teacher to continue implementation. The goal is for the student to be successful. If the assistive device is for sensory such as a weighted vest or body sock the teacher preteaches these during a large group activity such as, circle time. It is introduced this way so that other students can touch or try the devices out to see how they are to be used and hopefully understand why certain children may need them to be successful in the classroom. Thus, preteaching can be done by a specialist from EcCares or the the Educational Coordinator.

Funding & Who is Impacted

Head Start of lane county receives their program funding from Federal and State grants. Thus, there is a budget for educational/disabilities. Within this budget the Early Childhood Education Coordinator would contact the Child Development and Disabilities Consultant to request assistive technology. There would be observations and meetings to determine what assistive technology is needed and what the most appropriate choice would be. If the student had an IFSP the Early Childhood Education Coordinator would contact the ECCares consultant to request assistive technology. EcCares would than fund the assistive technology through their grants. In short, I found that funds were set aside through Federal and State grants or supplied by the agency HSOLC partners with.

The teacher, Mariann reported that the impact of the assitive technology depends on the device and the need of the child. For example, the loop scissors or weighted vest would only impact a particular student who has a need. The classrooms do not yet have touch devices for communication or other curriculum options. However, if they had this device would impact the whole class as the whole class could utilize this tool. In short, it was found that the devices typically used only impact specific children. Yet, the teacher did point out that when students needs are met and they are successful this impacts the general classroom as behaviors are minimized which equals out to a positive learning environment conducive of learning.

Incorporation into Curriculum & Training on the Device

Both Carmen and Marian report that if a teacher has been given assistive technology they are first trained on the device. Training is given to the teachers and classroom assistants through either the Child Development and Disabilities Consultant or through EcCares. More than likely if the assistive technology is for adaptive a consultant from EcCares like the Occupational Therapist would train the teacher. The OT would support teachers in learning how to use the AT.

The teacher would implement the device slowly into the curriculum. For example, the teacher would first introduce the device during small group activity or one on one with student. If it was a sensory device the teacher would introduce it the total group during circle time. The incorporation of the device is planned weekly through the process of individualization. The teacher will observe the student repeatedly and report back to the team letting them know how the student is progressing and if there any concerns. The teachers needs to Incorporated the assistive device through planning lesson plans that take into consideration the students At device. This monitored by the Early Childhood Education Coordinator, as reported by Carmen from HSOLC. Thus, the teacher is able to seek help if struggling with implementing the device.

How the Technology Device is Maintained & Tracking

Mariann and Carmen report that the device is given to the teacher through a check out process. The EcCares consultant or the Educational Coordinator will keep track of the device and will check in with the teacher at least once a week or biweekly. The EcCares consultant or the Educational Coordinator will check out the device on their visits to the classroom and it is the teachers responsibility to report anything that may be broken or damaged so that the device can be fixed. Some devices are easily replaced as they are not costly yet, if its a costly device typically these are insured and insurance would be used to replace the device. Both report it depends on the device.

Mariann, the teacher, pointed out that the device is tracked through the process was that through monthly consultant meetings the teacher can report back to the team the effectiveness of the device. If something is not working our for the student the teacher and the specialist will brainstorm to come up with another solution. Furthermore, some devices may not best meet students needs or students may not like them so they refuse to use them. Not all children have the same needs so the process of staffing children during consultant meetings is very important to ensure students needs are effectively met through the assistive device.

Likes & Dislikes

Mariann, the teacher, reported that she liked the process of implementation of AT devices as she felt supported by Carmen, the Early Childhood Education Coordinator. Carmen liked that if she had additional questions or concerns regarding a AT device that she could go back to her supervisor, the Child Development and Disabilities Consultant to have her questions answered or receive further training as her boss was well versed in most At devices and their purposes. What they both disliked was how frustrating it can be initially to get devices to support students in the classroom as the teacher needs to fill our Behavior Incident Reports to show a need or that the student needs to be first screened by EcCares if the teacher suspects the student has a delay. The process can lengthy and frustrating. In general, they notice the positive impact these devices have on all the students and are glad to have so many options.

Impact of Interview on Future Goals

After conducting this interview I learned specifically of the role of the Early Childhood Education Coordinator as this only the second year of this position at Head Start of Lane County so the process for allocating AT devices have changed. I learned that there many options out there for AT device that I was unaware were even available for check out. For example, I did not know that there was a body sock or even what a body sock was. During the interview the teacher and the coordinator demonstrated its use and how it can be incorporated into the curriculum. I have learned through this experience the importance of asking for AT device and how to research at devices. I was given a website during my interview so that I could research the various devices that pertain to Early Childhood Education. I will take the i information gleaned from this interview and apply it to my current career of being a Head Start teacher by empowering myself with knowledge of AT devices. In other words I will not let my fear of the unknown be an obstacle rather my not knowing of the device empower me to ask questions of folks who have the experience to help me better understand the device and how to implement it. In conclusion, I learned that instructional technology enhances the learning experience for not just the student who has the disability but rather the whole class benefits. Thus, creating an autonomous learning environment as all students needs are being met through assistive technology. What is really important through this process is that technology not only helps the student who needs it but rather the teacher as well. For example, South Carolina Assistive Technology Program points out that, "assistive technology can provide a teacher more options to use in addressing different learning styles for individual students using visual, auditory and tactile approaches"(2012, para 20). In short, I learned that as the teacher the assistive device will better help me mee the learning needs of my students. I was able to observe teacher Mariann in her classroom and I gained a better perspective on how to incorporate assistive technology in my classroom. Hence, the importance of knowing and understanding the purposes of technology.


South Carolina Assistive Technology Program. (2012). SC Curriculum Access through AT. University Center for Excellence, Columbia,SC. Retrieved from http://www/