Alkahtani, K. D. F. (2013). Teachers’ knowledge and use of assistive technology for students with special educational needs. Journal of Studies in Education , 3 (2), 65–86. doi:10.5296/jse.v3i2.3424

Journal Article

Alkahtani, K. D. F. (2013). Teachers’ knowledge and use of assistive technology for students with special educational needs. Journal of Studies in Education, 3(2), 65–86. doi:10.5296/jse.v3i2.3424


International (non-U.S.); No age




The accommodations—referred to collectively as "assistive technology" investigated in this study—were not itemized; the inquiry was about teachers' knowledge and experience with providing assistive technology to their students.


One hundred twenty-seven teachers responded to the survey, and three teachers were interviewed to provide breadth and depth to the data. Of the 127 respondents, 82 were special education teachers and 44 were general education teachers. Most respondents (n=108) taught at schools in urban settings. Additional demographics, including age, gender, training, and work experience were also reported.

Dependent Variable

Participating teachers' knowledge about and use of assistive technology were gathered using an online survey. The survey included questions about respondents' experiences with availability of assistive technology (AT), their preparation for, knowledge about, and attitudes about providing AT to students. Respondents were also surveyed about their preferences for additional learning about AT. Some participants were also interviewed about response trends from the surveys, such as knowledge and skills in providing AT, willingness to receive professional development about AT, and overall attitudes about AT.


The researcher reported that less than 10% of respondents had requested assistive technology evaluations for students or considered assistive technology (AT) when planning students' IEPs. Further, less than 10% indicated availability of AT devices in the schools, whether low-tech, medium-tech, or high-tech. Most respondents (about 94%) also rated their degree of knowledge as mostly low. Further, most (about 94%) estimated their preparation to provide students with AT as poor or absent, with about two percent having had courses on AT and about six percent having one or two AT workshop or trainings. Most respondents (84%) endorsed high interest in receiving training about AT, with preferences for individualized or group hands-on training, and for workshops or conference sessions (over formalized coursework). Slightly more than 50 percent of respondents responded neutrally to statements about assistive technology either helping or hindering learning, while few disagreed that AT helps and few agreed that AT hinders students. Most (70%) responded neutrally to the problem that AT is excessively time-consuming, with 12 percent agreeing and 13 percent disagreeing. The interviewees confirmed the themes that they have "inadequate level of knowledge and skills" (p. 78), and that they want and need more AT information. The interviewees' comments also reflected the mixed perception of AT devices as benefitting students' access to the curriculum but also building over-dependence on AT for learning. The limitations of this study were reported.