Amos is a freshman at Woodbury Central High School who has a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, which limits his motor abilities affecting his posture, coordination, ability to walk distances, and coordinate fine-motor hand skills. Consider the many motor tasks required of an individual during a school day. His condition presents challenges that include visual-motor tracking, especially when reading material, communicating information verbally or in writing. In addition, fatigue becomes a factor throughout the day, creating more barriers. Amos has stated that he learns best when he can hear information and complete hands-on activities.

In this setting, Amos' occupational therapist (OT) from Northwest AEA, Judy Janson, facilitates Amos’ ability to access curricular activities. The Assistive Technology Consideration Guide for IEP Teams was utilized to identify the curricular challenges where assistive technology would be beneficial. Trials were conducted over a period of time with various types of assistive technology resources acquired through Northwest AEA, online and from the school.

Judy's role included assessing Amos’ needs, determining the appropriate assistive technology options, monitoring the training and trials. She facilitated the discussion with the IEP team related to appropriate recommendations for assistive technology that included comparisons between vendors and pricing. Additionally, the job of training school staff and the student is a critical component to the OT’s role as a member of the assistive technology team. This has proven to be a challenge in Judy's experience because of limited time during the school day. Students and teachers must learn to use the assistive technology together and integrate it to support the curriculum and goal areas.

Judy discussed two strategies with the IEP Team. The first was providing a class for credit devoted to learning the various types of assistive technology. Secondly, an Iowa AEA Online service, Atomic Learning, offered detailed tutorials that could be part of the class content. With the support of the principal, Mr. Steve Shanks, and Amos’s special education teacher, Mrs. Tiffany Manker, the program was implemented and OT has collaborated throughout the year to support and provide guidance.

The programs that have been reviewed and mastered in the assistive technology class include Word Q, Bookshare Read OutLoud, Kurzweil Read and Scan and Dragon Naturally Speaking. Mrs. Manker has learned how to maneuver through the software programs along with her student. She has become very skilled herself in the operation of each program and easily refers back to the Atomic Learning website to review a section, if needed. Utilizing Atomic Learning offers immediate assistance to the teacher and student and less training time is required.

If the student has questions when he is at home, he is able to access Atomic Learning to answer those questions. Mrs. Manker monitors progress through a table printed off from the Atomic Learning website of each video, marking them off when mastery is demonstrated. Progress continues to be graded through observation during class time as Amos completes his assignments with less intervention or prompts from Mrs. Manker. He accomplished a major milestone in March when he independently completed a one-page assignment at home using Dragon Naturally Speaking.

He told Judy, "It was easy, I did it in 10 minutes!"

At this time, Mrs. Manker said Amos is using the technology to complete a poetry booklet for English. He is accessing the Internet and Microsoft Word operations. He is taking his laptop to general education classes and continues to advance his skills with Dragon Naturally Speaking.

Mrs. Manker has been instrumental in building her student's skills and confidence with the use of assistive technology. She provides direction and encouragement, not only with the use of assistive technology, but by helping him identify critical information, making connections to enhance comprehension and summarizing the material.

Other types of assistive technology that the school has made available includes a digital voice recorder, which Amos began using last year to record his assignments and emailing them to his teachers. This is still available but is utilized less often since he has been using other technology. In addition, the Bamboo Tablet was recommended by Judy, after a trial assessment, to support the art class. It was introduced to the art teacher, Mr. Derek Buckley, this year. Mr. Buckley has taken the time to learn how to use the Bamboo Tablet, and has taught Amos how to use it successfully as an accommodation in art class.

Amos has just begun to explore his dreams. He said he would like to go to college and pursue a degree. That degree may help him in a sports-related field or operating a small business in lawn care. Both are high interests of his at this time. Assistive technology supported by Woodbury Central High School has given him the tools so those dreams can some day become a reality!