Technology skills are a hot educational topic. Students are entering kindergarten with basic tech skills from playing toddler and preschool games on mobile devices. Kindergarten and first grade teachers are applying these basic skills to complete simple age-appropriate assignments using apps such as documents (Docs, Word, Pages), presentations (Slides, PowerPoint, Keynote) and spreadsheets (Sheets, Excel, Numbers). National tech standards scope and sequence dictates that students are typically introduced to these applications in kindergarten and are expected to master at least the basics of these applications by the end of third grade. Today’s kindergarten students are natives with technology. Meaning, that they grew up with technology and have fully embraced tech; these kids require little direct instruction on gestures or commands to interact with tech. General education teachers typically only provide instruction as they introduce a new application or a new activity – simply building on the students’ strong tech foundation. How does assistive technology – with its unique set of gestures, commands and even devices (such as a braille display) – fit into the mainstream 21st century classroom?
Students who are blind or low vision need specific instruction focusing on how to use assistive technology, especially students who use a screen reader with its unique set of gestures and Bluetooth keyboard commands. For braille students, this includes learning the braille display and the braille display commands. Students who use assistive technology may or may not have been exposed to their assistive technology before entering kindergarten. These students often have not grown up with technology and need additional specific instruction to catch up with their peers and the expected level of tech skills used in general education classrooms. In some cases, CATIS-certified instructors or other AT specialists are available to teach these technology skills to young students; however, in most public schools, the TVI is responsible.
To perform their jobs well, TVIs need resources about assistive technology! TVI Alicia Blevins has created and shared her wonderful iOS VoiceOver checklists. Organized by types of commands, these checklists list the action and the command. These checklists can be used to help all TVIs to organize their instruction/IEP goals, to track student progress, and even to help the TVI learn the various commands.
https://www.perkins.org/wp-content/uploads/elearning-media/Voice%20Over%20skills%20Checklist.pdf https://www.perkins.org/wp-content/uploads/elearning-media/Voice%20Over%20with%20Braille%20Display.pdf https://www.perkins.org/wp-content/uploads/elearning-media/Voice%20Over%20with%20Keyboard.pdf
By Diane Brauner