Assistive Technology in Education/Life Skills

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Assistive Technology: Teaching Functional Skills to Disabled Students using Software Technology[edit]

Special education teacher instructing a student with assistive technology.

Introduction[edit]

Assistive technology is defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004) as “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a child with a disability” (IDEA 2004, 2004). [1] The term “functional capabilities” could mean a full realm of skills and competencies to perform successfully in the educational classroom. However, this wikibook will pertain to the functional skills or life skills children with disabilities need to develop in order to transition successfully into independent living after school graduation by “transfering skills to new environments” (Rocchio, 1995, p. 1). [2] Functional skills are built on real-life living and learning. Contributing to the world these students live in while taking care of themselves are what many people with severe disabilities and their families hope for to ensure the most complete and gratifying quality of life for the individual (Langone, Clees, Rieber, Matzko, 2003). [3]


Assistive technology software for teaching functional skills to life skills students.

A skill or activity is defined to be functional after considering the following questions:

  • How frequently is the activity performed?
  • Will the activity increase the independence of the student?
  • Is the activity performed in a variety of natural settings?
  • Is the vocational task one which someone would pay the student to do?
  • Will the performance of the activity reflect the student as competent?
  • Is the skill likely to be naturally reinforced?
  • If the child can't do it will someone have to do it for him/her?

(Brown, Falvey, Vincent, Kaye, Johnson, Ferrara-Parish, & Gruenewald, 1980)[4]

Disabled people have a greater chance to live independently, obtain and maintain a job, and enjoy many societal benefits in today’s society more than ever before (Scherer, 2002). [5] Assistive and adaptive technology has helped that vision and reality. As one example, there is software technology on the market that can assist students with severe disabilities to accomplish independence through repetitive practice, simple interface design, and appropriate life skills content. This wikibook will suggest what types of content-specific assistive technology software could be used to teach functional skills to a life skills classroom of students. For this wikibook, life skills students will be defined as middle school and high school children who have severe disabilities, usually cognitive in nature, and whose cognitive needs extend outside the normal academic content to subject matter and concepts that will help them thrive in society. As IDEA 2004 states, this is a legal obligation for our school districts to deliver to students of special life skills needs (IDEA 2004, 2004). [6] To ensure an inclusive educational environment and opportunities for all students, administrators, teachers, staff, parents, and students should be aware of what is available in software to help life skills students learn. The development of functional skills moves the disabled students towards successful community participation. Functional skill development also builds an individual’s dignity and reputation (Rocchio, 1995). [7]


Functional Skills Topics[edit]

Learning how to prepare meals.

Functional skills such as communication, vocation, personal grooming, laundry, dining, meal preparation, housekeeping, leisure activities, anger management, social etiquette, money management, and responsible citizenship are abilities and everyday routines that every human being should be able to take care of and exercise for their own livelihood and health, as well as his or her purpose and place in society (Dell, Newton, & Petroff, 2007). [8] These functional skills can be categorized into four instructional domains: Self-Management/Home Living, Vocational, Recreation/Leisure and Community Functioning. Inside of these domains, tasks done on a daily basis can be labeled according to the following areas: social, communication, academics and motor (Functional Skills Action Committee, 1992). [9] In the most perfect assistive technology situation for a classroom of life skills students, the most obvious goal is to match each student with the most beneficial assistive technology to meet “receptiveness, competency, and understanding” of the individual student (Rocchio, 1995, p. 3). [10] This would support a person-centered approach (Rocchio, 1995). [11] However, all students need to be able to function in the home, workplace, and society according to what is expected for individual, physical, social, and financial matters. With functional skill competence, individuals with severe disabilities increase their employability opportunities, since their productivity and independence increases. Additionally, the prospect for rich social relationships through learning functional skills that develop social skills, social relationships, social behaviors, and emotional regulation is optimized when individuals are functionally independent and can take care of themselves and their basic needs (Martin, 2006). [12]

Integration into society becomes a reality rather than an impossibility when people have the ability to live their lives independently and be self-sufficient with proper adaptations and assistance devices that consider their limitations (Functional Skills, 1992). [13] Improving the environment, whether it be home, school, or the workplace, is always a step towards providing the disabled person with a more realistic situation to live and thrive. To accomplish this, using functional skills software training, instruction, and education to help the student gain and develop awareness, understanding, and ability to improve his functional level will equip him with aids for everyday living and everyday work (Beck, 2008). [14]

Teaching functional skills to disabled students is extremely useful in enhancing an individual’s ability to perform her or his job independently (Schneider, 1999). [15] One example is the way telecommunications has created opportunities for people with severe disabilities to work from home in a productive, responsible, and doable manner. Considering all of these future benefits, developing the necessary proficiencies to live, survive, and prosper with their disability is what school districts must deliver to life skills students.

Specifications of Functional Skill Software[edit]

Multimedia reinforces learning for our millennial students.

Practice brings experience which changes to knowledge for severely disabled individuals (Schneider, 1999). [16] Educators should have realistic learning outcomes for individual life skills students in the classroom (Scherer, 2002). [17] However, the choice of software made by administrators and educators should also take into consideration software attributes that would provide the most appropriate learning environment for life skills students. The content should be low-level, emphasizing developing skills that may be commonplace for students without disabilities. A simple interface with easy navigation and an elementary design will ensure students not to become frustrated with the digital learning environment (Dell, Newton, & Petroff, 2007). [18] Interactivity is a must to offer appropriate positive feedback and direction (Langone, Clees, Rieber, Matzko, 2003). [19] The software should offer positive repetitive opportunities to practice and develop experience in a risk-free environment (Brown, Falvey, Vincent, Kaye, Johnson, Ferrara-Parish, & Gruenewald, 1980). [20] Additionally, there should be the capability to customize the interface according to auditory, visual, pace, level of difficulty, and vocabulary to take into consideration each student’s physical abilities, emotional strengths, and cognitive awareness (Dell, Newton, & Petroff, 2007). [21]

Furthermore, the incorporation of multimedia prolongs attention, which enhances the practice experience and promotes awareness and competence (Langone, Clees, Rieber, Matzko, 2003). [22] This type of training is more effective and efficient with the use of simulated instructional activities (Brown, Falvey, Vincent, Kaye, Johnson, Ferrara-Parish, & Gruenewald, 1980). [23] Also, the allowance for partial participation in order to progress through the software is also very important to build confidence and full participation levels (Rocchio, 1995). [24] This would ensure a positive learning experience for the student which is important in the success of acquiring functional skills. Shared activity training supports social development and is beneficial to the student (Rocchio, 1995). [25] “The more students can do for themselves, the more opportunities there are for natural abilities and preferences to emerge that enable us to use a person-centered plan for individual program planning” (Rocchio, 1995, p.4). [26]

Software Offering Functional Skill Content[edit]

Personal hygiene: Learning to shave.

There are many different software choices in the market today to offer functional skills content to disabled students. Here are ten software examples that would be beneficial teaching functional skills to life skills students. The instructional domain(s) it satisfies is noted after the description of the application and in the table below.

Instructional Domains

  1. Self-Management/Home Living
  2. Vocational
  3. Recreation/Leisure
  4. Community Functioning

Functional Skills Software Examples

Functional Skills Software Titles Self-Management/Home Living Vocational Recreation/Leisure Community Functioning
Banking Math Software Flex X
Survival Signs X
Cause & Effect Sight & Sounds X X
From the Classroom to the Workplace X
Functional Skills System on the iPod Touch X
Job Survival software series X
In Sequence: Daily Living Skills X X X
Out in the Community X X
My Time X X X X
My House, My Town, and My School: The Language Activities of Daily Living Series X X X X

Conclusion[edit]

Developing functional skills in severely disabled students in a life skills class should improve an individual’s ability to learn, live, interact, and work with peers. With the use of appropriate software that matches students’ abilities, these students can greatly benefit from the ease, interactivity, multimedia, simulation, feedback, and customization of these applications (Brown, Falvey, Vincent, Kaye, Johnson, Ferrara-Parish, & Gruenewald, 1980). [27] Students using assistive technology to practice and build experience in functional skills should achieve greater independence which will enhance the quality of their lives (Schneider, 1999). [28] When students' quality of life is enhanced, everything else in their lives improves: school performance, social relationships, family and home life, and self-confidence all benefit from helping students find interdependence in living their lives and contributing at home, work, and school.

See Also[edit]

The Conover Company - http://www.conovercompany.com/products/functionalskillssystem/Index.html

Enable Mart - http://www.enablemart.com/Catalog/Stimulus-Packages/Ready-for-Functional-Skills-Package

Computer education can improve learning, and as a result, improve the quality of life.

Parrot Software - http://www.parrotsoftware.com/benefits.htm

OCR - Recognizing Achievement - http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/1419changes/functionalskills/

Ready for Functional Skills package - http://www.ablenetinc.com/Store/Ready+for+Functional+Skills+Package/tabid/205/Default.aspx?ItemCode=700300500

Attainment Company - http://www.attainmentcompany.com/xcart/home.php

Functional Skills for U - http://functionalskills4u.com/

bksb - Excellence in Skills Development - http://www.bksb.co.uk/2009/aboutUs.aspx

Humanlinks - http://humanlinks.com/cms/index.php?q=node/12

Tools for Life - http://www.gatfl.org/

Kid's Quest on Disability and Health - http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/kids/default.htm

AtStar - http://www.atstar.org/

The Alliance for Technology Access - http://www.ataccess.org/

Videos and Resources[edit]

Videos[edit]

Videos offer a great way to teach life skills students daily functional skills.

Social Skills Program - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4L5LS37950&feature=related

Let's Cook! Life Skills/ Kids with Autism INTRO - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3YK1ceSrmY

Let's Cook? Life Skills/Kids with Autism - Waffles - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbjNggDQ7QU&feature=channel_page

Let's Cook! Life Skills for Kids on the Autism Spectrum - http://www.mywire.com/pubs/Lets-Cook - Premium Access - membership required

Life Skills Sequences: Making Orange Juice - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYo-1NCNFc0&feature=related

Life Skills for Children - The Life Skills Program - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P75cfmuNYOg&feature=related

Teach2Talk - Social Skills! Volume 1 - Sharing - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSyzsHx73uU&feature=related

Teach2Talk - WH Questions Volumne 1 - Where? - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ky6Z4OUrpw&feature=related

Life Skills Series: Episode IV - How to Order from a Menu http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXT5OPjhYAA

How to Keep your Teeth & Gums Healthy : Choosing a Toothbrush: Dental Care & Oral Hygiene - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2wiX1icKVI&NR=1&feature=fvwp

Resources[edit]

Resources to find curriculum and instructional pedgagogy teaching functional skiils to special needs students.

Evaluation in Rehabilitation Planning and Evaluation of Functional Skills by Thomas L. Bennett

Life Skills e-Books - commplete with standard-based Functional Skills curriculum, case study, & articles

Life Skills bibliographies - Cooking, Housekeeping, Shopping, Money Skills, Travel, & Telephone Skills

References[edit]

  1. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA 2004), 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1401 retrieved on July 10, 2009 at http://idea.ed.gov
  2. Rocchio, L. (1995). The LIFE program – Living Innovations in Functional Environments – Deaf-blindness. American Rehabilitation. Retrieved July 12, 2009, from http:www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0842/is_n2_v21/ai_17986026
  3. Langhorne, J., Clees, T., Rieber, L., & Matzko, M. (2003). The future of computer-based interactive technology for teaching individuals with moderate to severe disabilities: issues relating to research and practice. Journal of Special Education Technology, 18 (1), 5-15.
  4. Brown, l., Falvey, M., Vincent, L., Kaye, N., Johnson, F., Ferrara-Parish, P., & Gruenewald, L. (1980). Strategies for generating comprehensive, longitudinal, and chronological-age-appropriate individualized education programs for adolescent and young-adult severely handicapped students. Journal of Special Education, 14, 14(2), 199-215.
  5. Scherer, M. (2002). The importance of assistive technology outcomes. Institute for Matching Person and Technology. Retrieved July 12, 2009, from http://www.e-bility.com/articles/at.php
  6. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA 2004), 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1401 retrieved on July 10, 2009 at http://idea.ed.gov
  7. Rocchio, L. (1995). The LIFE program – Living Innovations in Functional Environments – Deaf-blindness. American Rehabilitation. Retrieved July 12, 2009, from http:www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0842/is_n2_v21/ai_17986026
  8. Dell, A., Newton, D., & Petroff, J. (2007). Assistive technology in the classroom: Enhancing the school experiences of students with disabilities. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  9. Functional Skills (1992). Functional skills curriculum guide overview. Special School District of St. Louis County. Retrieved on July 15, 2009, from http://pbiscompendium.ssd.k12.mo.us/ResourcesSchools/SSD/Functional/overview.htm
  10. Rocchio, L. (1995). The LIFE program – Living Innovations in Functional Environments – Deaf-blindness. American Rehabilitation. Retrieved July 12, 2009, from http:www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0842/is_n2_v21/ai_17986026
  11. Rocchio, L. (1995). The LIFE program – Living Innovations in Functional Environments – Deaf-blindness. American Rehabilitation. Retrieved July 12, 2009, from http:www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0842/is_n2_v21/ai_17986026
  12. Martin, S. (2006). Special education, technology, and teacher education. Monmouth University. Retrieved on July 15, 2009, from http://site.aace.org/pubs/foresite/SpecialEducation.PDF
  13. Functional Skills (1992). Functional skills curriculum guide overview. Special School District of St. Louis County. Retrieved on July 15, 2009, from http://pbiscompendium.ssd.k12.mo.us/ResourcesSchools/SSD/Functional/overview.htm
  14. Beck, J. (2002). Emerging literacy through assistive technology. Teaching Exceptional Children 35(2), 44-48
  15. Schneider, M. (1999, June). Achieving greater self-sufficiency through assistive technology, job accommodation and supported employment. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 12(3), 159. Retrieved July 13, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database.
  16. Schneider, M. (1999, June). Achieving greater independence through assistive technology, job accommodation and supported employment. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 12(3), 159. Retrieved July 13, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database.
  17. Scherer, M. (2002). The importance of assistive technology outcomes. Institute for Matching Person and Technology. Retrieved July 12, 2009, from http://www.e-bility.com/articles/at.php
  18. Dell, A., Newton, D., & Petroff, J. (2007). Assistive technology in the classroom: Enhancing the school experiences of students with disabilities. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  19. Langhorne, J., Clees, T., Rieber, L., & Matzko, M. (2003). The future of computer-based interactive technology for teaching individuals with moderate to severe disabilities: issues relating to research and practice. Journal of Special Education Technology, 18 (1), 5-15.
  20. Brown, l., Falvey, M., Vincent, L., Kaye, N., Johnson, F., Ferrara-Parish, P., & Gruenewald, L. (1980). Strategies for generating comprehensive, longitudinal, and chronological-age-appropriate individualized education programs for adolescent and young-adult severely handicapped students. Journal of Special Education, 14, 14(2), 199-215.
  21. Dell, A., Newton, D., & Petroff, J. (2007). Assistive technology in the classroom: Enhancing the school experiences of students with disabilities. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  22. Langhorne, J., Clees, T., Rieber, L., & Matzko, M. (2003). The future of computer-based interactive technology for teaching individuals with moderate to severe disabilities: issues relating to research and practice. Journal of Special Education Technology, 18 (1), 5-15.
  23. Brown, l., Falvey, M., Vincent, L., Kaye, N., Johnson, F., Ferrara-Parish, P., & Gruenewald, L. (1980). Strategies for generating comprehensive, longitudinal, and chronological-age-appropriate individualized education programs for adolescent and young-adult severely handicapped students. Journal of Special Education, 14, 14(2), 199-215.
  24. Rocchio, L. (1995). The LIFE program – Living Innovations in Functional Environments – Deaf-blindness. American Rehabilitation. Retrieved July 12, 2009, from http:www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0842/is_n2_v21/ai_17986026
  25. Rocchio, L. (1995). The LIFE program – Living Innovations in Functional Environments – Deaf-blindness. American Rehabilitation. Retrieved July 12, 2009, from http:www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0842/is_n2_v21/ai_17986026
  26. Rocchio, L. (1995). The LIFE program – Living Innovations in Functional Environments – Deaf-blindness. American Rehabilitation. Retrieved July 12, 2009, from http:www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0842/is_n2_v21/ai_17986026
  27. Brown, l., Falvey, M., Vincent, L., Kaye, N., Johnson, F., Ferrara-Parish, P., & Gruenewald, L. (1980). Strategies for generating comprehensive, longitudinal, and chronological-age-appropriate individualized education programs for adolescent and young-adult severely handicapped students. Journal of Special Education, 14, 14(2), 199-215.
  28. Brown, l., Falvey, M., Vincent, L., Kaye, N., Johnson, F., Ferrara-Parish, P., & Gruenewald, L. (1980). Strategies for generating comprehensive, longitudinal, and chronological-age-appropriate individualized education programs for adolescent and young-adult severely handicapped students. Journal of Special Education, 14, 14(2), 199-215.

Further Reading[edit]

AbuSeileek, A. (2007, December). Cooperative vs. individual learning of oral skills in a CALL environment. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 20 (5), 493-514.

Bryant, D., Bryant, B., & Raskind, M. (1998, September). Using assistive technology to enhance the skills of students with learning disabilities. Intervention in School & Clinic, 34 (1), 53.

Bryant, D., Erin, J., Lock, R., Allen, J., & Resta, P. (1998, January). Infusing a teacher preparation program in learning disabilities with assistive technology. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 31 (1), 55.

Chambers, P. (1999, April). Information handling skills, cognition and new technologies. British Journal of Educational Technology; Apr99, 30 (2), 151-163.

Deutsch, J., Borbely, M., Filler, J., Huhn, K., & Guarrera-Bowlby, P. (2008, October). Use of a low-cost, commercially available gaming console (Wii) for rehabilitation of an adolescent with cerebral palsy. Physical Therapy, 88(10), 1196-1207.

Glimps, B.J. & Ford, T. (2008, November). Using internet technology tools to teach about global diversity. Clearing House, 82(2), 91-95.

Homer, C. (2000, July 2). An evaluation of an innovative multimedia educational software program for asthma management: Report of a randomized, controlled trial. Pediatrics, 106(1), 210.

Olympia, D., Heathfield, L., Jenson, W., & Clark, E. (2002, March). Multifaceted functional behavior assessment for students with externalizing behavior disorders. Psychology in the Schools, 39 (2), 139-155.

Østensjø, S., Carlberg, E., & Vøllestad, N. (2005, July 22). The use and impact of assistive devices and other environmental modifications on everyday activities and care in young children with cerebral palsy. Disability & Rehabilitation, 27(14), 849-861.

Rothman, J. (2005, April). Getting ahead. Computerworld, 39,(16), 44.


Contact Writer: Mwiscount (talk) 3:52, 6 August 2009 (UTC)