2002 Conference Proceedings

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Mary Sagstetter
AbleNet Inc.
1081 Tenth Ave S.E.
Mpls, MN 55414-1312

As inclusion becomes more prevalent, the learning environment must be adapted to meet the unique needs of a more diverse group of students. The students who are included in this diverse range of needs are students with severe/profound to moderate disabilities. Creative solutions are needed to enable individuals with disabilities to be more independent, productive and included into society and community life. (Sheets and Wirkus, 1997)

One solution that addresses adapting the learning environment is obtaining low-tech materials and equipment. These materials and equipment are labeled as assistive technology. Assistive technology is one of the key components to making an educational environment inclusive for students with severe/profound to moderate disabilities. Access to these tools provides students with disabilities the benefits of being included in the regular classroom environment to learn, communicate and participate along side their peers.

Another solution is the appropriate application of the assistive technology. The use of technology must play an integral part in empowering the student with disabilities to access the environment. (Bragman,1989). An assistive technology device is only a piece of technology unless thought has been put into what learning experience it will support and how it will impact a students life. For example, a voice output communication aid is only as useful as the message recorded into it. If the message is not one that motivates a student to communicate it, then the communication opportunity has been missed. The primary aim should be to assist students with disabilities access to assistive technology which meets their needs and to have the educational goals in mind that will assist the student in reaching their maximum potential for participation in both social and educational environments (Wilds, 1989).

AbleNet, Inc. is an assistive technology company whose vision is to improve lives of people with disabilities in every appropriate setting, every day, in dozens of ways. Thereby helping them reach their maximum potential, whatever it may be. The AbleNet mission is to create products that enhance the quality of life for people with severe/profound and moderate disabilities.

AbleNet strives to develop products that are easy to use and to supply appropriate application ideas for use. All of the products and application ideas are designed with the AbleNet Inc. Core Beliefs taken into consideration:
* Everyone can Learn
* Everyone can Communicate
* Everyone can Participate
These core beliefs speak to the level of commitment that AbleNet has for individuals with disabilities. They guide the actions and decisions regarding the product and material design choices. They also support the concept that learning opportunities are required if one is to learn. Learning occurs through repetition and exposure and practice opportunities. These opportunities in addition to higher expectations to learn are required if individuals with disabilities are to develop their skills.

The goal is that these products and application ideas will empower the educator, parent, caregiver etc. to be successful and fulfilled in their role of assisting the person with the disability to be active participants at home, at work, at school and in their communities.

This presentation is an attempt to share more specific information regarding features and benefits about the NEW AbleNet products with CSUN participants. Participants will not only gain basic product knowledge but knowledge about the product effectiveness in a variety of settings. Opportunities will be available to try out the new products and share ideas of how they can be used to encourage opportunities for students to learn, to communicate and to participate in their schools and communities.

Bragman, Ruth.(1987). Integrating Technology into a Student's IEP. Rural Special Quarterly 8(2)34-38.

Sheets, Lana and Wirkus, Mary. (1997). Everyone's Classroom: An environment designed to invite and facilitate active participation. Closing The Gap, Volume 16 Number 1, 1-9.

Wilds, M.(1989). Effective Use of Technology with Young Children. Nichy News Digest. Number 13, 6-7

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