Patterns of special education teachers' assistive technology knowledge and use in p-12 education

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University of Alabama Libraries

This exploratory research study used quantitative methods to explore patterns of specialeducation teachers’ assistive technology knowledge and use. Barriers to assistive technology (AT) use and facilitators that impact assistive technology use were also identified and explored. The following research questions were addressed: 1) what do special education teachers know about assistive technology and its application in P-12 education; 2) to what extent do special education teachers perceive the Quality Indicators of Assistive Technology (QIAT) being present in their school districts; 3) what are the barriers to assistive technology use for special education teachers; and 4) what factors facilitate assistive technology use by special education teachers? A self-report online survey was administered to special education teachers in Alabama. The survey consisted of five sections: demographics, knowledge of assistive technology, indicators of assistive technology, barriers to assistive technology, and facilitators of assistive technology. Findings in this study uncovered a disparity in knowledge related to AT consideration, AT services, and AT tools. Participants perceived their knowledge level to be highest in the area of AT tools, especially low-tech and mid-tech devices. In addition, lack of knowledge and training, lack of device options, and lack of funding were most frequently reported as barriers to assistive technology use. Barriers and facilitators of assistive technology were found to have a significant impact on special education teacher knowledge. It is recommended that the Alabama State Department of Education collaborate with school districts and higher education institutions to create training options that equip special education teachers, present and future, to appropriately consider and implement assistive technology for students with disabilities. In addition, a re-examination of policies and procedures throughout the state is recommended to assure alignment with current practices and mandates associated with assistive technology.

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Special education