When I was completing my undergraduate degree a few years ago, we were required to take a special education course each semester. At first I wondered why I would need a class of that nature if I didn't intend to teach special education. However, I soon discovered why it was necessary. In this ever changing world, students are being diagnosed with disabilities more often than in the past. Laws mandate that these students be taught in the least restrictive environment, which usually means inclusion in the classroom. Therefore most teachers will have at least one student with a learning or physical disability (usually many more than one student). Through these courses, I learned about using people-first language, which really made me aware of how I speak about students who may have a disability. I noticed that many of these terms were on the online quiz.
The YouTube video really reiterated how people with disabilities feel when we act different around them. It seems to me that most people with a disability just want to fit in and it is important as teachers and librarians that we treat all students the same. The quiz was an interesting way to see how we can use people first language and ways to act around people with disabilities. The main thing to remember is to act normal. I especially found it important to get on the person's level and speak as you normally would. With the increasing numbers of students with disabilities, we must learn to treat everyone the same and give everyone the same opportunities.
There is a Center for Independent Living in the city where I live. I was interested to read about the services that are offered. These centers teach people with disabilities the skills that are needed to live independently. This is so important. Also the center advocates and offers counseling and peer services. Along with an entire list of services, the center offers assistive devices to those who need it. I never knew that a center like this existed, but I can see why it is so important. There were not any Assistive Technology Centers listed within my state, but again I can see why this would be a useful resource.
I found several assistive technology websites that seemed useful. They are listed below:
1. Family Guide to Assistive Technology: www.pluk.org/AT1.html - This is a guide that was prepared through a branch of the U.S. Department of Education. It introduces parents to assistive technology and gives ideas of ways assistive technology can be used. It is important as teachers or librarians that we work together with parents to find the best accomodations for our students.
2. Assistive Technology Training Online Project: http://atto.buffalo.edu - This is a site that provides teachers with information about assistive technology for students in the elementary grades. It provides links, tutorials, basic information, and resources.
3. AbleData: http://www.abledata.com - This is a website that provides resources and information about assistive technology for people and students with disabilties. This site helps people locate websites, locate products, and locate grants and other funding.
4. Microsoft's Assistive Technology Site: http://www.microsoft.com/enable/at - Although this site is primarily used for selling assistive technology devices, it does provide some useful background information about assistive technology. It also provides resources, case studies, and information about how to make the computer more user-friendly.
5. National Public Website of Assistive Technology: http://www.assistivetech.net - This site can be used for adults and for students. It provides a list of items avalaible to make life a little simpler. Users can search by activity or by type of product. A wiki helps users connect with each other.
I was glad that I got the chance to learn a bit more about manners, both in person and online. It was interesting to read about how people with disabiltities feel when we treat them differently. I also like exploring some of the sites available.