Education students in the "Computers as a Classroom Tool" course had an opportunity to learn about assistive technology in the elementary classroom from a very special guest speaker.
Colby Tiberg, a fourth grader at Vandagriff Elementary in Aledo ISD, uses a DynaVox device and an iPad to assist him in the classroom. Colby has Koolen-de Vries syndrome, a rare disorder that causes developmental delays.
During a visit to the course taught by Jacqueline Gaffner, visiting assistant professor of education, students got a firsthand look at the technology that helps him learn.
Elizabeth Allcon, a special education teacher at Vandagriff, explained how the DynaVox and iPad level the playing field for Colby so he is able to participate with his peers in classroom lessons and school events.
Colby demonstrated how he uses both devices to say the Pledge of Allegiance, read the morning announcements, answer questions in class and participate in the school spelling bee.
"It is very important for preservice teachers to learn about assistive technologies they will most likely encounter in inclusive classrooms," said Gaffner. "Having opportunities like this allow education students to see the importance of working closely with special education teachers, specialists and parents in order to meet the needs of all students."
Students asked questions about Colby’s experiences in inclusive classrooms, and how his peers react to his use of assistive devices.
Allcon explained that she set up time at the beginning of the year to visit Colby’s grade level classroom to show students how Colby uses the devices as his voice. She wanted his classmates to understand that Colby uses them for learning, not as toys.
Colby’s parents, Steven and Patty Tiberg described Colby’s history with Koolen-de Vries syndrome. They explained how they obtained a DynaVox when Colby was 6 years old so he could communicate at home and at school.
Colby’s parents said that his classroom experiences have been very positive because of Allcon’s approach and supportive peers who have been in his classes since kindergarten.