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The Use of Technology to Promote Literacy

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    In scanning and skimming journal articles to use in regards to technology in literacy, I came across a journal that discussed assistive technology in conjunction with literacy. This sparked my interest due to my background in being a special education teacher. Literacy is significant for all students, but for students with disabilities the gap widens, and there can be increased difficulty in reaching and teaching literacy to those with profound special needs. The article is titled, “Literacy, Assistive Technology, and Students with Significant Disabilities,” written by Erikson, Hatch, and Clendon. The journal did a great job in first outlining and defining various terminology such as; what is literacy, various degrees of what is considered a low and high incidence disability, and some labeled high incident disability types. Literacy as stated by Erickson (2010) is simply and narrowly defined as writing and reading for the sake of this journal. Their reasoning being that many students who have reading and writing struggles is because of their disability and they typically have listening and speaking or communicating under a different bracket because students learn those facets differently.

    Reading and writing can be difficult for students who have a motor, visual, or perceptual disability. Erikson (2010) gave the example of students who have Autism and are stronger with visual representations such as pictures or symbols. Technology such as Board Maker or other word processors with clipart can be used to create word and picture correlations to help students make connections from the words and their meanings. As a special education teacher it is important to create goals and accommodations that appropriately match to the student’s need stemming from their disability. Technology in literacy has been a huge bridge for that gap for many students. Board maker is only one of those examples. Another example is for students with visual impairments. Students with visual impairments can learn to read and write with IPad apps and auditory programs. Furthermore, there is technology that helps students hear the phonological sounds to learn phonemic awareness. My evaluation of this article is that it has a lot of true statements about reading and writing and how students with severe special needs continue to require assistive technology to help them in that learning process. The article is a bit outdated and did not go as in depth as I would have hoped. I wanted to learn some new technology pieces for reading and writing, or learn something new and upcoming about technology and special education in reading.

    Much of what I read is information that I was already aware of. As a future reading specialist I have to be consistently adding to my bank of knowledge and my repertoire. I will be teaching a variety of student and skill types and I have to have background in understanding their needs. Some struggling readers, struggle because they have a disability. I am fortunately aware of that aspect because of my background in special education, but I will now be able to hyper focus on reading disabilities and I will learn how to implement technology to increase students’ progress in learning literacy. I also think it is important to begin to deeply understand how in today’s society technology plays a big part in literacy, especially “assistively” as stated by Erikson (2010). Today’s children and young adults need to be equipped for a technological life. Including digital literacy and technology integrated into reading. In doing research I found that another previously listed journal by Bulgar (2014), it was noted that there is still a need for classically taught literacy. Digital literacy is not a means to replace the basic skills of reading and writing.

    Digital literacy is more of a continuum of those skills, or a building block. Technology is very present in our world and students need to be able to work with both traditional literary sources, and then also apply that skill set to the digital world. As stated in another source, Bhatt (2012) highlighted the need for the teacher to place a higher emphasis on digital literacy and the terms used in conjunction with it, over the traditional previously taught literacy. This is similar to the above stated claims, that there is research to prove that a student needs to have dual literacy skills. Classic and digital. So as a reading specialist and a special education specialist it is in my best interest to integrate digital literacy and technology to give students a mixture and provide them with opportunities to grow in our modern world and assistively close reading gaps.

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