1.1 Technology and inclusivity models

“UDL”, “Differentiated Instruction”, and “Mainstreaming” have become popular buzzwords in education. These are great concepts, but sometimes turning concepts into practice can be challenging. In this module, we demonstrate how integrating AT (and technology in general) can help you meet these inclusivity goals.

The Ontario Ministry of Education encourages teachers to apply Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and differentiated instruction to their teaching in order to promote inclusivity. The table below lists the three primary principles of UDL (as established by the National Center on Universal Design for Learning) and on the right we’ve identified how you can use technology to help you achieve these goals. This list is not exhaustive, but the point is that supporting a student’s use of AT, and even incorporating it in your own lessons, can help you achieve a more inclusive classroom.

Primary Principles of UDLExamples of technology that can put these principles in place
“Multiple means of representation, to give diverse learners options for acquiring information and knowledge”Text-to-speech software, talking calculator & audio books that allow the student to access the printed word (or math equations) in an audio format;Visual glossaries & dictionaries that allow students to access the material in a way that suits them best and that serves to reinforce the learning objectives;Mind mapping software to allow students to translate a written chapter into a diagram that they better understand.
“Multiple means of action and expression, to provide learners options for demonstrating what they know”Speech-to-text software allow students to complete assignments using their verbal skills;The use of video, animation, photo or podcasting and other alternative formats to allow students to demonstrate their understanding of the material in a non-traditional way;
“Multiple means of engagement, to tap into learners’ interests, offer appropriate challenges, and increase motivation”The use of technology to facilitate group work and teacher feedback, such as shared documents, wikis and blogs;Electronic calendars and reminders to promote autonomy and make larger projects more manageable, helping to keep motivation;

1.2 The most important element for classroom inclusivity: YOU!

One of the most crucial elements for the positive implementation of AT in the classroom is far from technical: it’s your openness to learn! It’s OK that you don’t know everything there is to know about assistive technology. What is important is that you are willing to learn along with your student. AT in the classroom is your chance to learn a new skill and help students develop a new type of literacy that will serve them in the future.

Because feeling comfortable using AT will serve students now and in the future, it is important to make the experience positive by normalizing the experience—for both for the student using the AT and the rest of the class. This is critical for the success of your student who may already be nervous about using a tool that she feels will make her look different from others in the class.

In the following video, educators discuss their own initial worries and the strategies they put in place that led to the successful introduction of AT in their classrooms. You will also find more help on this topic in the Module 4 of this series.

The important thing to remember is that even without formal AT training, you can create a classroom that is welcoming and accommodating for students using AT from the first day they arrive.

Implementing Assistive Technology in the Classroom:

Making the Classroom Inclusive.

UDL and differentiated instruction :

For more on UDL and differentiated instruction, consider the following resources:

This site and its resources were developed by SET-BC (Special Education Technology – British Columbia) with support from the BC Ministry of Education (Department of Diversity and Equity). The content of the site was developed from a variety of print and online resources and is intended to provide K-12 educators with a starting point for implementing Universal Design for Learning in their classrooms. http://udlresource.ca/ For more in-depth information on UDL and its various components, visit the National Center on Universal Design for Learning at:
http://www.udlcenter.org/ and make sure to download their quick educator’s UDL checklist.

The National Centre on Universal Design provides many resources to assist faculty members in course development and design:

Finally, a good resource for teachers wanting to introduce AT in the classroom is David H. Rose and Anne Meyer’s book, “Teaching every Student in the Digital Age,” which can be accessed for free at:

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