Joey* is a ninth-grade student at Sioux Center High School who was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and was identified for special education with needs that include visual-perception, reading comprehension, note taking, organization and cognitive attending. As a part of his three-year reevaluation, consideration was made by his education team as to how assistive technology could help meet Joey’s daily academic needs. 

Randy Wiese, Northwest AEA school psychologist, and Cindy Baird, Northwest AEA regional facilitator, asked the AEA's Assistive Technology department if they could borrow an iPad to determine whether there were appropriate “apps” that could assist Joey with his skills and improve motivation. 

The iPad was used to organize short- and long-term assignments that were tracked through a calendar app. Joey’s general education teachers were also able to send classroom handouts and worksheets through an e-mail account to the iPad that could be organized and highlighted to emphasize the important directions, concepts and vocabulary. 

In addition, Apple’s word processing program, “Pages,” was used for writing and turning in assignments that were judged to be neater, organized and grade-appropriate for the standards of the classroom. Finally, digital text (e-books) were downloaded from a digital library (Bookshare.org) on the Internet that provides access to students with disabilities.

Joey was able to manipulate and read the downloaded text on the iPad by using the features of a text-to-speech software program (Read: OutLoud by Don Johnston), including enlarging the text, taking notes, highlighting key vocabulary words and using an on-line dictionary for comprehension. 

After this trial period and the success that Joey experienced, the Sioux Center Community School District determined that an iPad would be purchased by the district as a part of his special education program to provide regular access and use across both home and school settings. School procedures are currently being developed for Joey to have independent, but appropriate, access across settings including Internet, purchasing appropriate apps and maintenance of the device.

Joey’s special education teacher, Lori Ferreira, stated, “In the long-term, I think that the iPad could be a tool that can be integrated into his daily life skills for education, entertainment, communication and organization.  The iPad has helped Joey with his organizational skills and improved his daily achievement.”

When asked about his reflections about using the iPad, Joey indicated, “I guess what helped me the most was the organization it provided along with having everything I needed on the iPad.  It is a lot lighter than a book bag full of books. I could see this being used in the future by being able to put all of the textbooks that a student has on an iPad.”

This is another great example of how collaboration and teamwork between school district and AEA staff can elicit higher achievement for students in northwest Iowa.

* Not his real name. “Joey” was selected to protect the student’s identity.