Computer Lab Accessibility

This past spring my high school just  updated our three computer labs with 35 new desktop computers in each lab. Each computer has a standard monitor, keyboard and mouse. Even though all of these accessories are great, we do not have any alternative accessories for students that have any sort of disability. Our labs do have enough room for wheelchair accessibility, but we do not have any tables that are height adjustable.

In order to provide computer access for all students, I believe each computer lab needs to designate 5 computers in each lab for students with disabilities. These 5 computers would sit on adjustable tables ($150) and have headphones ($18), ZoomText ($600), and WiVik ($400). ZoomText is a computer software that zooms in on screen text and will read specific text back to user. WiVik is a virtual keyboard software that predicts text and helps students who have difficulties with standard keyboards.

I believe that with the addition of the above items, our computer lab would be accessible for all students regardless of their disability. Even though this would be quite a financial investment, it would be worth it to ensure equal access for all students.

Resources

AI Squared. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.aisquared.com.

Department of Justice. (2010). 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Retrieved from http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/2010ADAStandards/2010ADAstandards.htm

School Outfitters. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.schooloutfitters.com.

Obstacles and Solutions

The two biggest obstacles of technology integration in schools is a lack of professional development and resistance to change. Both of these obstacles revolve around teachers, yet one is at the district level of professional development, and one is an intrinsic motivator.

According to the NMC Horizon Report: K-12 Edition, there are six significant challenges to technology integration in K-12 Education.

  1. Ongoing professional development needs to be valued and integrated into the culture of the schools.
  2. Too often it is education’s own practices that limit broader uptake of new technologies.
  3. New models of education are bringing unprecedented competition to traditional
    models of schooling.
  4. K-12 must address the increased blending of formal and informal learning.
  5. The demand for personalized learning is not adequately supported by current technology or practices.
  6. We are not using digital media for formative assessment the way we could and should.

When I evaluate the top two significant challenges to technology integration, I come up with one common theme: time. It takes time to learn a new tool, and it takes time to re-evaluate your current way of teaching to integrate technology. With increased class sizes and decreased support, time is what teachers are needing, but time is not what they are getting. In order to fully come up with a solution for this technology integration, districts need to find ways to give teachers more time.

References

Johnson, L., Adams, S., and Cummins, M. (2012).NMC Horizon Report: 2012 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium