To SMART “A” is for Accessibility
Last week at the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) conference in Denver, CO, SMART launched its Accessibility Profile. It was exciting for me as a SMART Exemplary Educator, representing my school district, to tap on the word Accessibility under the Education tab on SMART’s website and watch people’s excitement as they discover that SMART has built the profile with a focus on a “Supports” as opposed to a “Disabilities” model. Visitors to smarttech.com can now easily see how SMART products offer visual, auditory, physical/mobility and social/communication supports for all. In so doing, SMART Solutions can easily be integrated as part of a toolkit for educators, which supports Universal Design for Learning.
At the SMART Booth #934, Tina Harte, Speech Therapist and David Escalante, a teacher at Santa Fe Indian School in Albuquerque, New Mexico explored how the SMART Table interactive learning center can be designed to incorporate the widest spectrum of users. It was easily apparent that the SMART Table accommodates 40 simultaneous “touches” – but that “touches” can also be from students accessing the SMART Table with a joystick, trackball or a voice output device. Activities can also be designed to accommodate picture symbol users and those requiring words to read to them, alongside peers in a shared activity.
Lady Bernadette Dolandolan or “Miss Didi” as her student affectionately call her, learned how students who use switches and voice output devices can access features within SMART Notebook collaborative learning software as well as other switch accessible programs via the Transparent Background tool in Notebook software. We also explored other social/communication supports, which will help to level the playing field for all students.
One of this year’s CEC’s “Yes I Can” student award winners, Sarah Fitzgerald, from Ketchikan Alaska (seen in photo to the left), who has lost her vision due to osteopetrosis, readily engaged with the SMART Podium. According to Sarah, bigger is not necessarily better for people with visual impairments, and for her the SMART Podium interactive pen display offered her the best interactive interface. She wanted SMART to know that the construction of the podium with a lip allows her to install customized Braille symbols to help her change the colors of her pen, which is important for Sarah as she is very artistic. To read more about Sarah and other “Yes I Can” award winners for 2012, follow this link.
My big take-away from the CEC Conference is that with teamwork we can make the impossible, possible for ALL people. For an example of teamwork, here is a video we created together as part of the CEC Preconference 2012.
Thank you to everyone who chose to kick off the CEC Conference with me in the Preconference sessions, and to those who stopped by the SMART booth to share ideas. And a special thank you to SMART Technologies for truly listening to customers and for your commitment to a world where ALL students can access an education
About the Author
Alex Dunn is a Speech-Language Pathologist for the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB), located in Oxford Mills, Ontario. She has been devoted over the last 16 years to exploring creative service delivery models to ensure ALL students, including those with severe communication challenges achieve the goal of meaningful educational and social participation. Most recently Alex has spearheaded the creation of Smart Inclusion, an initiative that combines assistive technology with emerging technology and pedagogy to support inclusion – making the impossible, possible for ALL students. Visit SMART Inclusion at smartinclusion.wikispaces.com. Canada’s 2012 SMART Exemplary Educator of the Year, Alex has shared her passion for the inclusion of ALL students across Canada, United States, UK, Spain, Germany and Puerto Rico.