Enabling Technology


Slides can be viewed here

Literacy for All

Gretchen’s lecture involved a discussion into the trying and complicated task of augmenting literacy development plans for children with disabilities.

Model classroom

In determining what students with disabilities are to be learning, one should ask them self, “What are students in typical classrooms expected to be studying at a certain level?” Furthermore, “what has the student of normal level accomplished by a certain level?”

Conventional Literacy

Conventional literacy describes the gradual exploration and developmental structure for understanding appropriate goals and determining appropriate activities for instruction.

  1. How are kids exposed to language?
  2. How do kids begin to speak?
  3. How do kids begin to write?
  4. How are kids rewarded for these actions?
  5. How do these exploratory activities lead to literacy?

From these questions and the analysis that follows, model classrooms and activities are to be built to cater to the literacy needs and levels of students.

Emergent Literacy

The current view of literacy development is as follows:

  1. Literacy begins at birth
  2. Children learn about literacy actively engaged
  3. Children learn literacy in real life experiences
  4. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening develop concurrently
  5. Reading and writing affect one another
  6. Communication/Listening and Expressive Communication affect one another

Typical emergent writers and readers have…

  1. had over 1000 hours of interaction with print
  2. understood the purpose of reading and writing
  3. played with sound
  4. begun the development of letter knowledge
  5. explored writing

What can a model classroom do to augment these traits in children with disabilities?


With the necessities identified, Gretchen and staff must provide opportunities to their students that cater to their specific needs. Below are some examples

For children with limited movement/feedback, writing and letter development can be a difficult hurdle to surpass. Therefore, the staff has come up with creative solutions such as switch-and-light scanning techniques where a helper scans and alphabet until the students relays their choice via a switch.

AAC devices that allow the student to select from the device’s menus to communicate wants and needs.

Visual rather that auditory stimulation for reward and feed back for a job well done.

Selecting letters with their eyes using a helper and a eye gaze model. Students are able to move their eyes to a corresponding area where the helper is able to select and record the appropriate letter for the student.

Analyzing Progress

Gretchen spoke of the difficulty that is experienced when attempting to analyze the progress of her students. For instance, many of her students can write via the helper-scanner technique for an hour and only produce a sentence. However, there appear to be patterns and intelligent decisions emerging as consistent with emergent reading/writing. Therefore, Gretchen spoke of her need for a software package or general heuristic to compare these writings against to watch progress over time.

Possible Project Idea

Given Gretchen’s needs, she has asked for a software package that would allow instructors to enter their child’s text string into an analyzer to determine the amount of random selection vs. intelligent request. Ideas include:

  1. A web based application to allow ease of deployment
  2. A graph with database to show progress over time
  3. A proper matrix to allow multiple forms of input with proper weight to each letter (scanner, keyboard, et cetera)

Lesson of the Day

In the end I felt that the message that Gretchen most wanted the class to receive is this – communication is only as good as the weakest link. A lot of the children that she sees are physically unable to communicate via normal lines of communication. Therefore they need extra attention and help to develop the skills of emergent literacy. Without attention paid to these needs, children with disabilities would be unable to ever have a voice in their life. Therefore, it requires care and detail to allow them to have the knowledge and ability to be heard.

1 I appologize for the lack of pictures but due to inexperience with the class camera, I was unable to capture any images of Gretchen’s lecture.