Education students prepare for serving students with disabilities

This semester, a group of Geneva College education students attended the 2013 Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) Assistive Technology Expo. The event, held in Pittsburgh, focused on technological devices and software that helps educators better teach students with disabilities.

"This conference covered a topic that is very beneficial to our students," says education professor Dr. Karen Schmalz. "More and more students with disabilities are requiring assistive technology to function in classrooms in schools, so the more our students know about this topic, the better."

Geneva Students at Conference

As Christians within the teaching profession, these students are called to be good stewards of available resources. By providing education majors opportunities such as this conference, Geneva helps these future educators learn about important resources for serving students with learning difficulties.

At the conference, four learning sessions covered devices specifically useful to students with communication needs, reading and writing struggles, vision impairment, and complex instructional needs.

"Before attending this conference, I had no idea how many products existed for educators to invest in for the sake of their students," says senior Hannah Kauffman.

The students who participated not only gained a comprehensive understanding of the available products, but also learned how to best use products they already have.

"There are so many ways to use everyday technology, such as Microsoft Word and sticky notes, to enhance the needs of individuals with disabilities. It′s not so much about what technology you have, but it′s more about how you use it," says senior Mary Kinch.

Senior Sarah Colwill adds, "Making modifications does not always require expensive technology. The speaker in one specific session gave the teachers many practical ideas, such as using lined paper and using features from Microsoft Word in order to assist students with reading and writing."

The students also found the PaTTAN Assistive Technology Expo to be a valuable resource that they can continue to use throughout their careers.

"I think that this was a great experience for a future teacher to see what services are out there. If I were to ever be in the position to use additional technology in my classroom, I know where to attend," said junior Shane Wingard.

by Jessica Driscoll ′14

December 2013

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