Georgia Southern College of Education collaborates with Georgia’s Assistive Technology Act Program
On Nov. 17, junior and senior special education and dual certification (early childhood and special education) majors at Georgia Southern University participated in an assistive technology workshop hosted by Tools for Life, Georgia’s Assistive Technology Act Program.
Housed on the Georgia Institute of Technology’s campus, Tools for Life provides access to and acquisition of assistive technology devices and services in the state of Georgia for all ages and disabilities to have greater access and opportunity to learn. Assistive technology includes any item or piece of equipment that increases, maintains or improves the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities in all aspects of life including school.
College of Education (COE) students participating in the Tools for Life workshop were introduced to various assistive technology (AT) ranging from ‘low tech AT’ such as specialized writing utensils and grips to furniture that creates healthier learning environments. Additionally, students had the opportunity to work with ‘high tech AT’ including smart cameras, video magnifiers and hands free, voice activated devices.
The workshop is the start of a collaboration between Tools for Life and the University’s College of Education in efforts to provide special education and dual certification majors education and experience with various technologies they can use in the classroom while working with students with disabilities.
“The goal is to get assistive technology in the hands of our juniors and seniors, and not to just have knowledge of these technologies but to have application of their use in the classroom,” said special education instructor Shelley Woodward.
As a part of the collaboration with Tools for Life, Georgia Southern received several new assistive technology items that will be housed in the College’s Innovation Studio. Some of the new items include: hands-free magnifier, personal reading assistant with touchscreen, speech generating device, alternative keyboards and joystick devices, geometric board game, transcribing device and a sound amplifier compatible with hearing aid devices. The Studio also now includes an Amazon Echo, demonstrating the multipurpose of the device as a smart speaker than can interact with students based on voice commands.
Over time, Woodward hopes to see additional assistive technology added to the Innovation Studio for student and public use.
“The broad impact of this collaboration also expands to community training and partnerships,” she explained. “In the future we hope to see special education groups in the Innovation Studio testing and trying out this technology to see if their school could benefit from some of these items.”
For more information about the Tools for Life program, visit http://www.gatfl.gatech.edu/tflwiki/index.php?title=Main_Page
To learn more about the special education and dual certification programs at Georgia Southern, visit http://coe.georgiasouthern.edu/sped/
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