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Getting administrators on board with virtual tech instruction

Your student needs quality tech instruction! Here are suggestions on how to approach administration for approval and how to fit virtual tech instruction into your student's schedule.

If you have been following Layla’s Tech Journey series, you have learned how she was introduced to an iPad with VoiceOver and a braille display as a 4-year-old and how confident and competent she is using JAWS in 7th grade. We dove deeper into how Layla learned JAWS through virtual tech instruction along with tips from her virtual instructor, Kelly Harrison. Now let’s take a look at the two big questions: 

  1. How to get administration to approve virtual instruction
  2. How virtual instruction fits into the student’s class schedule

Tips on how to get administration to approve virtual instruction


Collect data to back up her request, including tech skills on the student’s IEP, and lay out multiple options for administration, including the estimated cost of each option. Have a viable plan in mind before going to administration!

Tips for working with administration

Data collection

As part of your normal data collection and progress reports, track the student’s current tech skills. Look ahead to next year’s tech needs and incorporate these skills into the student’s IEP. Reach out to the grade level teachers for the next year and ask what programs they use for instruction so that the student can start learning those the year before. Include a check list of the JAWS commands needed to navigate and interact with these tasks and applications. Fill out the JAWS commands checklist if your student has been introduced to JAWS.

Include data about the gen ed tech skills required in your district/state. In North Carolina, the DPI (Department of Public Instruction) website has a link to the standards that North Carolina has adopted ISTE K-12 digital learning. Include these state-adopted tech skills in your data collection.

Editor’s Note: While the ISTE is a commonly used digital standards, the standards are written in broad, general terms. The Common Core State Standards K-12 Technology Skills and Sequence is an excellent national, mainstream resource that breaks down each specific skill by grade level. 

For students who are college-bound, it is so important to look ahead with college readiness checklists, as these checklists begin early since it takes time to master the skills!


The College Readiness Checklist: A Tool for the TVI Toolkit

Rachel shared that she did a review of the Expanded Core Curriculum as part of an FVLMA before Layla transitioned to middle school. For the Assistive Technology section, she created a table that shows the three devices Layla uses on a regular basis and what programs and skills she can perform on each device. (Layla was using a Braillenote Touch+, Laptop (with JAWS), iPad/iPhone (with VoiceOver). 


These documents are specifically for Layla and include specific apps and devices that she was using at the time of this review. These resources are meant as a guide only and should be modified for your specific student’s skills and devices. Rachel also added details about specific skills Layla has recently learned under various topics, as most applications have varying levels of mastery. It is important to note that Layla is using multiple devices and applications, including both JAWS and VoiceOver screen readers, and that she chooses which device is best for the task at hand.

TSVI Training

Share with your administration:

Compare these training the TSVI costs to contracting a virtual tech instructor – preferably an instructor who is visually impaired and uses JAWS personally.

Comparing the cost of TSVI training and time vs. the cost of contracting an expert is eye-opening and often the tipping point for many administrations. 


Scheduling virtual tech lessons 

The second big question is how to fit everything into the school day, without eliminating other important classes. Keep in mind that learning tech in the 21st century classroom is that tech skills are critical – students use technology to access materials used in all core classes. Layla is one of the fortunate students to have an IEP team that understands the importance of technology and figured out a way for Layla to fit learning access technology into her schedule:

4th grade

In 4th grade, Layla received virtual tech instruction 3 days a week for 60 minutes. Her 1:1 virtual tech instruction replaced:

Note: These three class periods were 50 minutes long; Layla stayed an extra 10 minutes to have a full 60 minutes of virtual tech instruction.

5th grade

In 5th grade, Layla received virtual tech instruction 1 – 2 times a week. The hybrid in-person and virtual instruction schedule for the district (due to the COVID-19 virus) opened up Layla’s schedule making it simple to incorporate 1-2 virtual lessons during this school year.

6th grade

In 6th grade Layla was in middle school and had an elective class first period. As approved by administration, Layla was enrolled in a computer class with the general education computer teacher, however she was actually receiving instruction in Assistive Technology, VI, and O&M. She earned a grade for this class which were based on the grading rubric. Her instructors combined the grades into 1 grade for the elective class and reported this grade to the general education computer teacher to input her grade for this course.



More posts about Layla:

Co-written by Diane Brauner and Rachel Harris

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