Access and Challenges of Assistive Technology Application: Experience of Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments in Singapore

Meng Ee Wong, Libby G Cohen

Abstract


Purpose: Assistive Technology (AT) enables persons with visual impairments to lead independent and productive lives. Teachers play an important role in facilitating education for students with visual impairments. This study describes the experiences of AT use by teachers of students with visual impairments in Singapore. 

Method: 6 teachers were recruited from the only school for the blind in Singapore. In-depth interviews were conducted in order to understand beliefs, practices and needs regarding the use of AT. The teachers were asked: how they learnt AT, where they acquired the knowledge, how they used AT in their teaching, what were the challenges or successes experienced. Qualitative thematic content analysis was used to evaluate the transcriptions.

Results: There was unequivocal recognition that AT is a facilitator for accessing information and improving the quality of life for students with visual impairments. At the same time, there were indications of significant gaps and disconnection in AT knowledge and skill among teachers. A noteworthy feature was the use and teaching of AT being driven by a teacher champion. Other focal areas include teaching of Braille and AT, whether AT is to be taught as a curriculum or enrichment subject, and whether the integration of AT is overlooked. The findings also point to limitations in resources, and inadequacies in pre-service training and professional development.

Conclusion: Knowledge of AT is inadequate and its use by teachers of students with visual impairments is inconsistent.  AT needs to be viewed as a complementary tool to aid teaching; not as something separate and a competitor to Braille. These gaps can be addressed by improving pre-service, in-service and professional development courses for teachers.

Keywords


Assistive technology use; accessibility; student with visual impairment; special education Singapore; integration of assistive technology

Full Text:

PDF

References


Abner GH, Lahm EA (2002). Implementation of assistive technology with students who are visually impaired: Teachers' readiness. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness; 96 : 98-105.

Alper M (2012). Promoting emerging new media literacies among young children with blindness and visual impairments. Digital Culture and Education. http://www.digitalcultureandeducation.com/uncategorized/dce1077_allen_2012_html-2/

Alper S, Raharinirina S (2006). Assistive technology for individuals with disabilities: A review and synthesis of the literature. Journal of Special Education Technology; 21(2): 47-64.

Borg J, Lindström A, Larsson S (2009). Assistive technology in developing countries: national and international responsibilities to implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Lancet; 374: 1863-5. http://dx.doi.org/10.3855/jidc.210

Edwards BJ, Lewis S (1998). The use of technology in programmes for students with visual impairments in Florida. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness; 92: 302-312.

Fixsen DL, Naoom SF, Blase KA, Friedman RM, Wallace F (2005). Implementation research: A synthesis of the literature. Tampa, FL: University of South Florida, Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, The National Implementation Research Network (FMHI Publication #231).

Glazer E, Hannafin MJ, Song L (2005). Promoting technology integration through collaborative apprenticeship. Educational Technology Research and Development; 53(4): 57-67. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF02504685

Hatlen P (1996). The core curriculum for blind and visually impaired students, including those with additional disabilities. RE:view; 28(1): 25-32.

Havelock R, Hamilton J (2004). Guiding change in special education: How to help schools with new ideas and practices. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Howell J M, Boiesb K (2004). Champions of technological innovation: The influence of contextual knowledge, role orientation, idea generation, and idea promotion on champion emergence. The Leadership Quarterly; 15: 123-143. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.leaqua.2003.12.008

Judge S (2008). Assistive technology training at the pre-service level: Current status and training needs. In K. McFerrin et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2008. 5109-5112. Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Kapperman G, Sticken J, Heinze T (2002). Survey of the use of assistive technology by Illinois students who are visually impaired. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness; 96: 106-108.

King-Sears M, Evmenova A S (2007). Premises, principles, and processes for integrating TECHnology into instruction. Teaching Exceptional Children; 40: 6-14.

Lee Y, Vega LA (2005). Perceived knowledge, attitudes, and challenges of AT use in special education. Journal of Special Education Technology; 20(2): 60-62.

Lincoln Y S, Guba EG (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. London, UK: Sage.

McDonough H, Sticken E, Haack S (2006). The expanded core curriculum for students who are visually impaired. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness; 100(10): 596-598.

Miles MB, Huberman AM (1994). Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook, 2nd Edn. London & Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE.

Ministry of Education. (2008). MOE launches third masterplan in ICT in education. Retrieved from:http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/press/2008/08/moe-launches-third-masterplan.php

Mull CA, Sitlington P L (2003). The role of technology in the transition to post-secondary education of students with learning disabilities: A review of the literature. Journal of Special Education, 37(1): 26-32. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/00224669030370010301

National Federation of the Blind (2009). The Braille literacy crisis in America: Facing the truth, reversing the trend, empowering the blind. A report to the nation by the National Federation of the Blind. Jernigan Institute.

Okolo CM, Bouck EC (2007). Research about assistive technology: 2000-2006. What have we learned? Journal of Special Education Technology; 22(3): 19-34.

Parker S, Buckley W, Truesdell A, Riggio M, Collins M, Boardman B (1990). Barriers to the use of assistive technology with children: A survey. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness; 84: 532- 533.

Rex EJ (1989). Issues related to literacy of legally blind learners. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness; 83(6): 306-307.

Rex EJ, Koenig AJ, Wormsley D, Baker R (1994). Foundations of Braille literacy. New York: AFB Press.

Seevers R, Martin S, Crawford CM (2001). Assistive learning within a special needs environment. Proceedings of SITE; 2001: 2639-2641.

Smith DW, Kelley P, Maushak NJ, Griffin-Shirley N, Lan WY (2009). Assistive technology competencies for teachers of students with visual impairments. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness; 103: 457-469.

Spungin SJ (1996). Braille and beyond: Braille literacy in a larger context. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness; 90: 219–227.

Thurlow WR (1988). An alternative to Braille. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness; 82: 378.

Wahl L (2004). Surveying special education staff on AT awareness, use and training. Journal of Special Education Technology; 19(2): 57-59.

Weikle B, Hadadian A (2003). Can assistive technology help us to not leave any children behind? Preventing School Failure; 47(4): 181-186. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10459880309603365

Wolffe K, Sacks S, Corn A, Erin J, Huebner K, Lewis S (2002). Teachers of students with visual impairments: What are they teaching? Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness; 96: 293-304.

Wong ME (2014). Supporting pre-service educators in assistive techology integration: a curriculum model. In Combs, D. (Ed.), New research on assistive technologies: Uses and limitations. 97-115. New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Wong ME, Chia NKH (2010). Education for students with visual impairments in Singapore: an overview of primary and secondary programs. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness; 104(April): 243-247.

Wong ME, Cohen L (2011). School, family and other influences on assistive technology use: access and challenges for special school students with visual impairments in Singapore. British Journal of Visual Impairment; 29(2): 130-144. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0264619611402759

Wong, ME, Tan SSK (2012). Teaching the benefits of smart phone technology to blind consumers: Exploring the potential of the iPhone. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness; 106(10): 646-650.

World Health Organisation (2015). Assistive devices/technologies. Available from: http://www.who.int/disabilities/technology/en/

Zhou L, Parker AT, Smith DW, Griffin-Shirley N (2011). Assistive technology for students with visual impairments: Challenges and needs in teachers' preparation programmes and practice. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness; 105: 197-210.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5463/dcid.v26i4.450

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.




Copyright (c) 2016 Meng Ee Wong

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Supported by:

netherlandsleprosyrelief_logo_rgb_-_new_logo_2014_120CBMlightfortheworld_logo_rgb_-_new_logo_2014_120

© Disability, CBR & Inclusive Development