Lamond, B., & Cunningham, T. (2020). Understanding teacher perceptions of assistive technology . Journal of Special Education Technology , 35 (2), 97–108.

Journal Article

Lamond, B., & Cunningham, T. (2020). Understanding teacher perceptions of assistive technology. Journal of Special Education Technology, 35(2), 97–108.


Accommodation/s not specified; Educator survey; High school; International (non-U.S.); K-12; Middle school




Accommodations were not specified; teachers' perceptions of assistive technology (AT)—provided to support access to academic content including testing—were explored, including factors influencing AT's perceived usefulness and implementation.


Twenty-four (24) teachers of students in grades 6–10 in Ontario, Canada responded to an online survey. Demographic and other information about these teachers, including sex (male/female) and length of teaching career, were reported. Ninety-two percent (92%) were female and eight percent (8%) were male. Teaching careers ranged from less than one to about 35 years, averaging about nine years. At the time they completed the survey, nearly all teachers (92%) were teaching at least one student with an IEP, averaging eight students, with a range of 2–25 (special education) students per teacher. About 70 percent of teacher respondents reported that they were teaching special education students using personal assistive technology.

Dependent Variable

The survey contained 155 items, including some open-ended and many closed-ended items. Survey responses yielded quantitative and qualitative (thematic) data on perceptions and experiences associated with assistive technology. Survey items were assembled from various sources and from the authors' work and addressed several areas: (a) teachers' knowledge and training on AT, (b) their computer literacy, (c) their perception of administrative support and resources provided toward AT (based on a resources scale developed by Lee & Vega, 2005), (d) the usefulness of AT (based on a scale developed by Nam et al., 2013), and (e) factors that facilitate or inhibit AT implementation (based on survey items developed by Flanagan et al., 2013).


Teachers reported that perceptions of the usefulness of assistive technology (AT) were significantly associated with teachers' computer literacy and with teachers' AT knowledge, but not associated with administrative support for AT or with AT training. Teachers perceived that AT was useful when they had higher computer literacy and greater AT knowledge. Perceptions of the usefulness of AT were not associated either with the view that their administrators were supportive of AT, or with the amount of AT training. Survey respondents reported intermediate levels of computer literacy and intermediate levels of AT knowledge, and neither factor was linked with lesser or greater teaching experience. When exploring the strength of general computer literacy and of specific AT knowledge on perceptions of AT's usefulness, AT knowledge alone had significant influence, and computer literacy did not seem to add to that perception that AT is useful. Varying numbers of teacher respondents reported that the strongest factor discouraging implementation of AT was (a) lack of AT training for teachers or even for students—reported by 21%—and ease of use—reported by 17%. The strongest factor encouraging implementation of AT was reported to be (a) the capacity to assist students individually—reported by 46%—and when its use increased student learning—reported by 21%.