The effects of training education specialists and teacher credential candidates in assistive technology applications and practices

The purpose of this study was to review and determine the merits of training teacher credential candidates and educators already possessing credentials in general Assistive Technology applications and practices. The primary reasons this research is important are because special education students will be more successful accessing and using technology interventions when supported by teachers who have competence and confidence in using technology. Further, providing comprehensive training in AT enables educators to be highly qualified and well-rounded professionals who can be resources to other educators, related services personnel, families and administrators. To obtain quantitative and qualitative data on teacher competencies with regard to Assistive Technology, 24 educators from a Technology for Special Populations class were given a pre-and post-survey near the beginning and end of a course on AT to determine changes in confidence and competence as a result of participating in the course. The results from a comparison of the pre-surveys and post-surveys were significant. The results established conclusively the hypothesis that educator's competencies and confidence in their own abilities with AT would increase after several weeks of training in AT. Therefore, teachers would have a broader scope of knowledge and be able to support their students effectively. Key Words: Assistive Technology, disability, special education, teacher confidence, teacher competence, IDEA, IEP, 504 plan.