DCPS Students Demonstrate the Impact of Assistive Technology Devices in the Classroom 

April 28, 2011

Dr. Nyankori discusses the importance of technology in helping students with disabilities become more independent learners.
Wallace Dews, student at Woodrow Wilson High School, demonstrates how he uses his screen reader to read.

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A laptop isn’t just a fun piece of technology for Wallace Dews, a student at Woodrow Wilson High School. 

It’s the difference between being able to read his book for English class and not.

Wallace is visually impaired, and his IEP team allocated him with an assistive technology device called a screen reader that can read his books aloud or zoom in text so he can read it better.

“Before I started using this, I did not like to read books at all. I couldn’t even really see the words on the page,” said Wallace. 

“Once I started using the screen reader, reading got a lot easier for me because I could listen, and I am a good listener and comprehend better by listening.”

On April 28, Wallace, joined other DC Public Schools students with visual impairments, and learning and physical disabilities that affect reading, at the DC Public Library. 

They were there to demonstrate how their assistive technology devices can help them read and how Bookshare, an online library of textbooks and other core instructional materials, can help them to gain immediate access to their books.to help them read.

The students were joined by officials from DCPS, Bookshare and DC Public Library as they discussed the importance of using technology to help students be empowered, independent learners.

Dr. Richard Nyankori, deputy chancellor for special education at DCPS, talked about the challenges that can exist for students with print disabilities who are not equipped with the right assistive technology devices. Students would have to wait for books to be transcribed to heavy Braille books, he said, or they were assigned a dedicated aide who would read materials for them and copy notes from the blackboard.

With the advancements in technology, it has become easier for the IEP teams at DCPS schools to allocate students with assistive technology devices that can help them read on their own.

“Technology is a fundamental tool for our students to increase their independence and quality of life, all while breaking barriers to access academic and employment opportunities,” said Dr. Nyankori. “Creating better futures for our students with disabilities is a responsibility for each and every one of us.”

Bookshare is a free, federally funded online library that is available to all DCPS students with print disabilities. Students can use the online library to immediately download and access the same books and necessary core instructional materials with their assistive technology devices at the same time as their nondisabled peers.

At the end of the event, students demonstrated how they use their different assistive technology devices to read their assigned book from English class.

Chrichelle Brown, student at Woodrow Wilson High School, showed onlookers how she can use Bookshare and software on her iPad to zoom in text or to have the text read aloud.

As she read with her iPad, she told her audience that she was looking forward to attending college in the fall. She’ll be bringing her iPad with her.

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