IEP team's knowledge about student characteristics, legislation, AT devices and AT services on considering assistive technology in the IEP development for 3rd to 5th grade students with learning disabilities in reading and writing

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2007-12

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Across grade levels, students with learning disabilities (LD) experience challenges with aspects of their academic learning in terms of reading and writing. In many cases, these challenges can be addressed by utilizing assistive technology (AT) applications as a potential solution. According to the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 2004, AT should be "considered" in the development of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) to meet the requirement of providing a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) and to assist students in accessing the general education curriculum. The law requires IEP teams to consider AT to determine whether AT devices and services are necessary; therefore, IEP team members play an important role for considering AT and how AT should be specified in the IEP (Golden, 1998). The IEP team members include school administrators, teachers, and professionals who are responsible for developing, reviewing, and revising the IEP for students with disabilities. Thus, the IEP team members should have essential knowledge to inform AT decisionmaking (Bowser, 2003). The Technology and Media Division (TAM) of the Council of Exceptional Children (CEC) lists standards and teacher competencies regarding knowledge and skills of AT for practitioners and related professionals to follow. The standards include obtaining knowledge about AT legal foundations, students' characteristics, instructional content, technology applications, and related services for providing technology. In order to know whether IEP team members possess knowledge for considering AT for students with LD, the purpose of this study was to examine IEP team members' knowledge regarding characteristics of students with LD, AT legislation, AT devices, and AT services for considering assistive technology in the IEP development for 3rd grade to 5th grade students who have been identified as having learning disabilities in reading and writing. Participants (N=1050) including school administrators, general education teachers, special education teachers, diagnosticians, and speech/language pathologists from three school districts in a southern state were surveyed. Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) was used to analyze the data. The results showed that participants were somewhat knowledgeable about the characteristics of students with LD, AT legislation, AT devices, and AT services when considering AT in the IEP development. Training in terms of quality and quantity was suggested by researchers to provide IEP team members who are serving students with LD better preparing for considering AT in the IEP team meetings. Future research should focus on conducting a similar study with different IEP team members and with different disability groups rather than just learning disability.

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