Thursday, April 17, 2008

"It is my hope and desire for all people who struggle with reading to get to know their favorite author too."

For readers interested in educational adaptive devices and assistive technologies and optimising their integration into the curriculum for children with disabilities, you might want to read Cilla Sluga's thoughtful post called "Reading Wonders" at her blog Big Noise. Cilla identifies a number of problems with how educators and rehabilitation professionals presently deliver assistive technologies to children with disabilities and argues they need to transform the way they teach so as to keep pace with the technology revolution.

Here is an excerpt:

I talk to parents almost daily in my work with a state assistive technology program. The stories are all frustratingly similar. They have a child failing all subjects; he/she reading level is years behind their peers. They receive no support other than a resource room teacher that helps them read words, asks the child questions about the materials, and then they send homework home, where parents and the child spend the evening in frustration and tears. As the child falls further behind, he/she gets labeled as lazy, unmotivated or a bad kid.

That little binder of colored overlays hits very close to my own home. When one of my daughters graduated from high school, she read at a 7.5 grade reading level. A 6th grade reading level is functionally illiterate. Despite that, she wanted to go away to college like her peers and sisters. With a little research and luck we found a community college that focused on student supports and assistive technology services for students with disabilities. In one semester, with a purple overlay, they raised her reading level from grade level 7.5 to 11.5. She still uses it; and it has dramatically changed her life.

What was once painful is now pleasurable. It increased her ability to study and improved her quality of life. In short, she became a reader. What is most remarkable about her story, for me her mama, is she has read enough to know she has a favorite author.

Whether it is a colored overlay, or a book on tape or other technology adaptation, it is my hope and desire for all people who struggle with reading to get to know their favorite author too.