My colleague, Adrienne Shoemaker and I completed a presentation at the NEAER Conference in New Hampshire this past November titled Tech Skills for the College Bound Student. Our presentation was inspired by the article A Second Look at What High School Students Who Are Blind Should Know About Technology. Since we both have high school braille students on our caseloads, the article was of particular interest. Our students have goals of going to college after graduating from high school and we wanted to make sure that we as teachers knew the recommended skills our high school students should have. We also wanted to make sure that the students themselves were aware of what skills they needed to work towards obtaining.
In preparation for the presentation, we interviewed high school students, college students, and graduates who are blind. Interviewees answered open ended questions as well as verbally rated a list of essential technology skills and tools that we compiled based on the research article. The following ratings were used for the survey: absolutely necessary, somewhat necessary, or not necessary.
The following skills and tools were reported to be absolutely necessary by both adult and students.
Adult and student answers also differed. Adults only reported the following were absolutely necessary:
Students only reported the following were absolutely necessary:
After reading this article, I shared it with my high school student. We discussed the article and identified what technology skills she felt would be important for to be successful now, in college and in the future. She then proceeded to draft her technology IEP goals with me. This is a practical example of how research can have a positive impact on a student.
Given a computer, laptop, and/or touch screen device, and a refreshable braille display, Student A will use multiple operating systems and screen reading software to access digital materials and complete grade level assignments with no more than one prompt per assignment 8 out 10 opportunities per semester as measured by observation and data collection by June 2019.
The student created objectives that focused on the following:
Her second goal focused on exploring new technology. Below is the goal we wrote:
Given a variety of mainstream or assistive technology tools, Student A will explore using each tool and provide feedback about the effectiveness of the tool to complete a specific task or assignment 4 out of 5 opportunities within one semester as measured by teacher data collection by June 2020.
Her objectives including exploring planner or calendar applications, citation and bibliography websites or apps to correctly cite resources, OCR software or apps to make print materials accessible, and software to access digital tables, charts, and graphics using auditory information.
When adults were asked “What advice or support would you share with students with visual impairment who are preparing to pursue a college education?” most responses included the importance of developing self-advocacy skills. Below were the responses:
Our biggest takeaways from completing this presentation were the importance of connecting with adults who are blind and visually impaired, keeping current with technology skills, and empowering students to explore and learn about new technology.
By R Saladino