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EDG 5935-GB-101

Technologies for Special Populations (an introduction to assistive educational technology)

Credit: 3 hours

T. Cavanaugh | 


Course Description:
This course is designed to be an introductory survey course in the application of technology as assistive and adaptive devices and strategies for special population students, ESOL, learning, physically or mentally impaired, and are in a mainst

reamed versus a profound situation. The basic concept of the course material is to learn about and use technologies to overcome handicaps and improve functionality. The course will be focusing mostly on integrating technology/computer based applications and adaptations.

Course Topics:
Built in adaptations: Windows/Mac, legal issues, ethical issues, Individualized Education Plan (IEP), support agencies, English as a Second Language learners (ESOL), Exceptional Student Education (ESE), learning disability, environmental control, vision assistance, physical impairments, motion impairment, voice control, voice input, Text-to-Speech/Speech-to-Text, technology adaptive strategies: study, outline, concept mapping, toy adaptation, and universal access/design.

Topic Outline:

  1. Introduction to assistive technology
  2. Legal issues and the IEP
  3. ESOL as a special population
  4. Toys, Switches, and other adaptations
  5. Windows & Mac built-in Accessibility tools
  6. Text to Speech & Speech to Text 
  7. The Internet
  8. Mobility and Physical Impairments
  9. Hearing and Vision
  10. Learning Disabled

Evaluation: Course grades are based on quizzes, activities, projects and lab assignments.

Target Learners: Current & Future educators, and anyone interested in learning about assistive technology for the school setting. This course may be applied to recertification at all grades and subject areas.

  • Required course materials:
    1. Internet Access
    2. Dragon Dictate or other voice input program
    3. Environmental control materials & program
    4. Internet access
    5. The Internet: an inclusive magnet for teaching all students (published online by World Institute on Disability)
    6. Learning to Read in the Digital Age by Anne Meyer and David Rose (published online by the CAST organization http://www.cast.org/products/  or available as print from Amazon.com)
    7. Voice recorder or 4-frame talker

    Kit made from radio-shack/electronics store materials (containing switch and toy adapting material)
    Digital Camera


  • Distance Learning

    Distance learning, if you are new to it, is an exciting and very different learning situation from the classroom. It is important for you to realize that is takes a good amount of self-discipline to keep up. If you keep up Iím sure that you will do well

    Some Points on using WebCT

    Your user name and password to the site is your last name (first letter capitalized)

    The WebCT internal e-mail is for communication between students, when you wish to contact the instructor or send in assignments you should e-mail them to my main mail address: tcavanau@unf.edu. Be sure to include AT-course in the subject of your message. You do not have to use the WebCT e-mail, you may continue to use your own e-mail.

    The WebCT form is an important component of the class. It is required that you participate with the form topics and provide not only your own information but also comment/reply to others.

    All of your assignments and your main section to work out of is the Course Contents section. Make sure that you check weekly to see if any new material has been added.



    Assignments (details in assignments section) to be submitted via online, email or on diskette. All e-mailed assignments should be submitted as attachments in Rich Text Format (RTF) and if possible MS Office. You should also include the course number and assignment statement in the subject. Assignments must be delivered by the given due date. Assignments up to one week late will only be worth half credit, and more than a week late will not be accepted.

    Information/Research Paper:

    The paper should have a focus on integrating and/or implementation of assistive technology in a school setting. What does this mean to education? How does it change the role of teachers, students and schools? How is the nature of technology changing instruction? How does change itself change what we do as teachers? This paper should examine issues and societal trends and their effect on education. The final topic for the paper must be approved by the instructor. Paper should be three to four pages, in APA style, pay attention to format, spelling, and grammar. References are the spice of life, use them often and correctly!


    Evaluations - Using the guidelines, rubrics and forms from the website, review and provide recommendations concerning the appropriateness of use in the following areas:
    1. Web site evaluation for handicap access
    2. Software evaluation
    3. Hardware evaluation
    4. Ability evaluation

    Field/Experimental Experiences
    1. Assistive Hearing 
    2. DVD experience
    3. Voice Input
    4. Memo minder
    5. Environmental control

    1. IEP's - TREE software:
    Use software in the process of creating an individualized education plan that incorporates assistive technology.
    2.  Create a communication board:
    Design and produce a one-page document to act as a communication board specific to subject area and grade level. The board should provide words and icons that are representative of speech necessary for discussion/communication for a class in that area.
    3. Concept mapping: Using concept map software as  learning tool develop a an application for studying and learning. 

    Bonus Credit. Build a switch and adapt a toy - Construct an impaired accessible switch, from plans provided or by creating your own or discovering others. Also adapt a child's toy to be useable with the switch you create. Switch & toy will be assess through your summary description and image documentation.

    Other Assessments

    1.Quiz on legal/support/IEP
    2. Forum discussion
    3. Case studies
    4. Site experience/observation

    During the early part of the course you should arrange to visit a class and observe a student using assistive technology devices. The class can be self-contained or mainstreamed. Use the assistive technology device checklist and then provide a summary of your finding concerning the student. You should make mention of how the student and teacher feels concerning the technology. If you would prefer not to visit a class or am unable to make sufficient contacts to be able to do so, the following are acceptable alternatives to classroom observations:

    • Visit an ATEN lab
    • Attend a ATEN workshop
    • Attend a FDLRS (or equivalent) meeting or workshop
    • Visit a FDLRS (or equivalent) lab displaying assistive devices


    Grades will be determined by the sum of points earned in each component of the listed assignments.
    90-100 A, 80-89 B, 70-79 C, 60-69 D, less than 60 points F

    Disabled Students

    Please notify the instructor within the first week if a reasonable accommodation for a disability is needed for this course. Additional resource information is available through the Graduate Student Handbook. A letter from the Office of Student Disability Services must accompany the request.

    Last updated 04/27/04