2002 Conference Proceedings

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Sherry L. Purcell. Ph.D.
Los Angeles Unified School District
40 Park Avenue
Venice, CA 90291
Day Phone: (323) 731-1248
FAX: (323) 766-9235

Debbie Grant
Santa Barbara County Education Office
827 Kolding Avenue
Solvang, CA 93463
Day Phone: (805) 688-1849
FAX: (805) 686-9207

The reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1997 instituted one of the most fundamental changes in recent years for the public education of students with disabilities. Specifically, public schools must now provide access to the general curriculum for students with disabilities.

Section 614 of IDEA'97 states the following:

The term "individualized education program'" or "IEP" means a written statement for each child with a disability that includes a statement of the child's present levels of educational performance, including how the child's disability affects the child's involvement and progress in the general curriculum...

In addition, IDEA'97 requires that consideration for assistive technology is given for every student who has an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Assistive technology is an important component of providing disabled students access to the general curriculum.

It should be clear that AT is not about providing a separate curriculum. Instead, Assistive Technology provides the functional access or the "bridge" between the student's disability and the ability to access the same curriculum as general education peers. Functional access technology breaks through the barriers of vision, hearing, processing, communication, and/or motor skills to allow students to do the same things as their general education peers.

There is a great need in the public schools to distinguish between educational technology and assistive technology. Also referred to Computer Aided Instruction (CAI), educational technology typically involves software programs which enhance classroom activities. Computer stores have shelves full of such programs which teachers and parents can select to provide extra practice and skill development for a student use during free time activities. Some of these software programs tout themselves as reading and math programs for certain ages and grade levels. A close inspection indicates that they are not aligned with state curriculum and should not be used as such. Instead, they are optional instructional tools and should be used as supplementary materials.

This session will review key concepts from IDEA related to Assistive Technology. Standards from the Reading/Language Arts Framework for California Public Schools will be reviewed as the basis for developing IEP goals. Strategies for integrating general curriculum standards with assistive technology will be presented in relation to a new guide called Assistive Technology Solutions for IEP Teams. Session highlights will include demonstrations of how to adapt general curriculum standards for reading and language arts using a functional task analysis approach. Assistive technology "solutions" will be presented for each task within a curriculum standard using examples from the guide. Illustrations from the guide will include information sections with vendor and purchasing information, as well as "how to make it yourself" information. AT solutions will include low-no tech and high tech examples.

Participants in this session will learn:

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