The role of the AT coordinator in school districts – has the role changed since No Child Left Behind?
We love our acronyms in the world of special education…so most everyone will recognize these letters – NCLB (now the ESEA…Elementary and Secondary Education Act)…and AT. NCLB to me speaks of the desire for the educational system to meet the needs of all students, enabling success in school and beyond. It clearly states “Failure is not an option…” and yet we know our students with disabilities often fail many times before they experience success. Technology, all technology, is a powerful means to enable their success. And to me, the AT Coordinator plays a pivotal role.
The text of the document indicates that local educational agencies should be using funds towards-
“preparing teachers in the effective use of educational technology and assistive technology as instructional tools for increasing student understanding of the core academic subjects;” (http://www2.ed.gov/legislation/ESEA/sec2210.html)
Are we doing this as AT Coordinators?
When No Child Left Behind was first authorized by President Bush in 2002 – I doubt that Assistive Technology was at the top of the implementers to – do list. Yes we want accountability, yes, we want highly qualified professionals working with our students, and yes, we want what we do to be research based – all tenets of NCLB. Yet for those of us who work in the world of assistive technology, it is a natural and common sense part of the solution. More and more I am finding that my job is changing, it’s more about using technology that we have, and only using very specialized technology when needed.
So, for those of us who live and breathe AT and disabilities – I think the question is — How are we using NCLB/ESEA to encourage use of all technology, including AT enabling student success? How has your job changed since the legislation?
Elisa Wern, AT Specialist, Gainesville, Florida