Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
A significant achievement gap between students with disabilities and their peers without disabilities has led to increased inclusion of students with disabilities in the general education classroom. Assistive technology (AT) has the potential to improve access to the curriculum for students with high-incidence disabilities. Teachers are challenged with learning about, recommending, and implementing AT; yet little is known about how teachers in New Hampshire use AT or the needs for professional development (PD) in AT utilization. The purpose of this intrinsic case study was to understand how teachers in small rural New Hampshire schools utilized AT with students with high-incidence disabilities and teachers' needs for PD in AT use. Data were collected via semistructured interviews of 5 general and 5 special education teachers from 6 small rural middle and high schools. Using levels of AT literacy as a conceptual framework, data were coded and analyzed to identify common themes. Findings showed that teacher awareness and working knowledge of AT varied. Independent use of AT in reading and writing provided access to the general curriculum, allowing students to be included with their peers. Teachers reported wanting to learn more about the AT available and how to universally integrate AT into the general classroom. Findings informed the design of PD workshops and a learning network created to improve teacher knowledge and skills in AT integration. This study has the potential to decrease the achievement gap by improving access to the general curriculum for students with disabilities through improved teacher use of AT.