Special Education Professionals and Assistive Technology: Requirements for Preparation in a Digital Age

George R. Peterson-Karlan
Illinois State University

Jack J. Hourcade
Boise State University

Howard P. Parette
Brian W. Wojcik

Illinois State University


This article presents contextual background for the preparation of teachers to effectively use assistive technology (AT) with students with disabilities. A brief description of student uses of technology is presented, noting how students have changed in their understanding and use of information technologies. The role of AT is then presented, linking the role of special education professionals in today’s schools with current teacher preparation practices. Discrepancies are noted between what is needed to best serve Digital Age students in the schools, and the manner and extent to which teachers are prepared. Using existing standards and addressing emerging AT training needs, the authors propose three distinct levels of preparation: an AT (a) practitioner, (b) specialist, and (c) leader. Specific roles of each of these personnel are delineated. The instructional potential use of hybrid models of professional development classroom instruction combined with computer-based learning) is recommended as particularly promising approach.

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