Evolution of Adaptive a Technologies
In Week two readings for EDUC7724 we were introduced to Assistive Technologies, it's definition, and it's evolvement for students with disabilities. Interestingly enough Assistive Technologies stems from the definition in the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 which was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. As this led to the many changes and progressions within the Assistive Technology Act in the years to come it did strike me as a concern regarding the need for these services and the fact that they were not uniformly in existence prior to the 1980's in our country as a whole. The Tech Act of 1988 was in fact an impressive and significant mandate because it was the first law to actually provide a setting for the use of devices in the Assistive technology world. This law used grants to provide states with the means to support change and advocate activities for individuals with disabilities.
It appears that since then much progression has been made as outlined by Bryant and Bryant in Chapter 1 of Introduction to Assistive Technology Devices and ServicesAssistive Technologies. Many of the Acts associated with Assistive Technology evolved in the sense of changing legislation but also names as was the case with the Technology Act that ended in 1998 and morphed into the Assistive Technology Act. Signed into law by President Clinton this Act was meant to help address technology needs of individuals with disabilities. In addition the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 which became the Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1990. IDEA, as it is also know, involved a revision in the IEP where "AT devices must be a consideration for the transition plan and must be provided if the IEP team considers it necessary and appropriate for the student's success as a learner". (Bryant and Bryant) Thus making support and other related services to become important components of the IEP.
Progression of the technology needs for those with disabilities continued by making improvements, modifications, and reformations of theses Acts and others. Various aspects and components became important foci surrounding these pieces of legislation and the people receiving the services and or technology. Ethics was one area that required professionals, involved in the assessment and planning of AT services and devices, to adhere to a code of ethics and standards. In addition, a push for districts to train personnel and be current in technology by engaging Educators in meaningful and purposeful professional development became another aspect of AT. When school districts provide in service opportunities it offers formidable learning for educators and therefore better teaching and learning. More aspect surrounding AT related to confidentiality and privacy and access to the general education curriculum for ALL students with disabilities issues.
It appears that the evolution of AT is still in progress even with the gains made from the initial Tech Act of 1988. I would image that despite the support and progression made there is still more that can and will be done to ensure that equal opportunity and access for those with disabilities is
I believe as it stands now in the district that I work, most of the PD and current information on AT is geared towards our Special Education teachers. It will be interesting to see if it becomes more mainstream with the general education teachers in the years to come.