2003 Conference Proceedings

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Stephanie Bassler, M.A.
De Witt & Associates
700 Godwin Avenue, Suite 110
Midland Park, NJ
Email: Stephanie@4dewitt.com

One of the persistent issues facing the field of blindness and visual impairment is how to insure that individuals who are assessing and training students, clients and employees on the use of assistive technology are competent to do so. Is the individual knowledgeable about how to assess the needs of a blind or low vision person relative to using assistive technology? Is the trainer knowledgeable about the wide variety of assistive technology available and how to use the one to be taught to an individual? Finally, is the trainer competent as a teacher? These and many other aspects of assistive technology training are being addressed by those currently active in the fields of education and rehabilitation of the blind and visually impaired.

This presentation focuses upon one aspect of these concerns, how to ensure that hands on training of an individual by an assistive technology trainer will be thorough and effective. "Courseware For Assistive Technology Trainers" is a set of 28 separate products developed by De Witt & Associates that help guide trainers step by step through teaching the essential elements of today's most popular commercial applications in conjunction with a particular assistive technology product such as a screen reader or large print program. Each courseware includes a series of step-by-step lessons on use of the application in conjunction with the technology.

Some of the advantages of using a standardized curriculum, such as our courseware, include:

Consumers who change instructors will receive consistent training and the new instructor will know exactly what has been taught and how it has been taught.

In this presentation Stephanie Ball-Bassler V.P. and COO of De Witt & Associates will discuss:

  • How the courseware is organized including: Lesson Objectives, Instructor's Notes, Key Terms, Keystrokes, step by step lesson plans and assessment.

  • The importance of structured lesson plans to good teaching.

  • How providing students with advance organizers helps them understand the lesson better.

  • Multiple uses of assessment including, promoting better student retention, adjusting teaching methods to different learning styles and providing a smooth transition when instructors change.

  • How standardized curriculum can help organizations provide consumers with consistent and high quality training.

  • How having curriculum materials can make training new staff members easier.

  • How to customize a standard curriculum to meet individual student needs and interests.

  • Samples of the courseware will be distributed and discussed.

  • "Courseware For Assistive Technology Trainers" has been thoroughly field tested and is being used in several states. Courseware systems are available for teaching Windows Concepts, Microsoft Word, Excel, Power Point, Outlook Express, Internet Explorer and IBM's Home Page Reader. Each courseware system is used in conjunction with a choice of JAWS, Window-Eyes, ZoomText or Magic, except for Home Page Reader, which is a self-contained assistive technology product.

    De Witt & Associates is a New Jersey based training firm specializing in the use of computers and assistive technology for persons who are blind or visually impaired.

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    Reprinted with author(s) permission. Author(s) retain copyright.