Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Assistive technology (AT) is defined as any tool that can help integrate students with severe or multiple disabilities (SMD) into learning activities. As mandated by federal law, AT must be considered for all students with disabilities. Educators, however, do not consistently embrace low and mid tech AT devices in reading and the language arts, thus limiting student engagement in learning activities. The purpose of this study was to explore educators' perceptions of their experiences regarding the acquisition and the use of low and mid tech assistive devices with students with SMD. This study builds on the existing literature base of using AT to increase student participation in literacy activities, thus moving students through Vygotsky's zone of proximal development from limited performance to independent performance. Research questions in this study addressed (a) educators' experiences regarding the use of AT for students with SMD, (b) educators' perceptions of AT use for students with SMD, and (c) strategies educators use to match AT to students with SMD. A qualitative phenomenological research design utilizing interviews with educators and unobtrusive data collection was used to determine the effectiveness of the incorporation of AT devices in learning activities for students with SMD. Results indicate that educators have limited AT use and little or no training. This study indicates the need for formal and informal AT training for educators and contributes to social change by enhancing the literature on academic modifications and adaptations with the use of low and mid tech assistive device interventions. Implications for social change include improving teaching practices for students with SMD.