One child's use of assistive technology

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Virginia Tech


This is a qualitative study of one student’s use of assistive technology in the public school system from preschool to fourth grade. The data collected for this case study include interviews, participant observation, field and diary notes, video tapes, and other documents including school records and a teacher memoir. Throughout the study, the goals were to stay open to and reflect emerging patterns rather than to fit data into previously determined categories. The report describes how Michael--with cerebral palsy that affects his speech and prevents his standing or holding a pencil--used computers, augmentative communication devices, and other electronic technology. On one level the report becomes the story of a student who moves from a separate special education facility into an elementary school where he is integrated fulltime into a fourth grade class. Discussion and conclusions explore (1) types of support he required, (2) barriers to technology use as well as problems of "abandonment" of technology acquired, (3) the effect of integration into general education on his use of technology, and (4) how providing assistive technology influences and changes teachers’ roles.