Zhou, L., Parker, A. T., Smith, D. W., & Griffin-Shirley, N. (2011). Assistive technology for students with visual impairments: Challenges and needs in teachers’ preparation programs and practice . Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness , 105 (4), 197–210. https://doi.org/10.1177/0145482X1110500402
Zhou, L., Parker, A. T., Smith, D. W., & Griffin-Shirley, N. (2011). Assistive technology for students with visual impairments: Challenges and needs in teachers’ preparation programs and practice. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 105(4), 197–210. https://doi.org/10.1177/0145482X1110500402
Educators' knowledge and skills were examined for assistive technology (AT) processes, devices, and materials typically used by students with visual impairments.
One-hundred sixty-five (165) teachers of Texas (U.S.) students with visual impairments completed surveys about their perspectives about assistive technology. Various demographic information was reported, including gender, age, work experience, and their own visual disabilities and own use of assistive technology, as applicable.
The survey completed by teacher-respondents had Likert-scale questions rating expertise level regarding 74 assistive technology competencies. The survey was adapted from a similar survey employing a set of 111 assistive technologies which were organized into ten domains of knowledge and skill (Smith, Kelley, Maushak, Griffin-Shirley, & Lan, 2009). The researchers drew the 74 competencies from six of the ten original domains.
Participants indicated that their levels of expertise on 55 of the 74 assistive technology (AT) competencies were significantly lower than the expected levels of expertise. Of the 6 domains of knowledge and skill, survey respondents had sufficient expertise in only the learning environments domain. Put another way, about 58% of respondents indicated less than adequate confidence in teaching assistive technology to students. Respondents indicated that they were sufficiently familiar with AT devices such as closed-circuit television (CCTV), handheld and stand magnifiers, and telescopes, as well as common technologies used by the general population of students; however, they were not appropriately expert in any other AT devices (e.g., augmented communication devices, braille notetakers and writers, braille and Nemeth code translation software, personal digital assistants/PDAs, screen-readers, tactile graphics devices, talking calculators, and talking dictionaries). Further, survey respondents were limited in their knowledge of appropriate resources for improving their AT expertise. When examining participant demographics, researchers found a small positive relationship between higher numbers of years working with students with visual impairments and their expertise levels. The researchers provided recommendations for pre-service personnel preparation and in-service orientation for educators of students with visual impairments. Limitations of the study were reported, and future research directions were suggested.