George Lucas Educational Foundation
Technology Integration

5-Minute Film Festival: The Power of Assistive Technology

This playlist of videos and resources explores how assistive technology can contribute to an inclusive classroom and empower students with special needs.

January 17, 2014
Image Credit: iStock Photo

Of the many ways that technology enhances our lives, one compelling example is assistive technology (AT) -- tools to help people with learning or motor disabilities complete everyday tasks. In schools, assistive tech can mean the difference between a student falling behind or being able to successfully work alongside other kids in an inclusion model. Check out Edutopia curator Ashley Cronin's new roundup on assistive technology for a comprehensive list of resources; to accompany that, I wanted to share some amazing videos I've found about how technology can empower kids with special needs.

Video Playlist: The Power of Assistive Technology

Watch the first video below, or watch the whole playlist on YouTube.

  1. Understanding Assistive Technology: Simply Said (02:33)

    The PACER Simon Technology Center produced this Common Craft-style explainer that covers the basics of assistive technology resources in just two and a half minutes.

  2. The Helping Hand (04:05)

    I loved the sunny, playful feel of this short about a boy who gets to help design his own prosthetic. Siemens has more videos like this from their Answers project, where they commission filmmakers to tell stories about people who have been positively affected by tech.

  3. UDL (Universal Design for Learning) (03:28)

    This lovely video, produced by Alberta Education in Canada, gives a wonderful overview of what UDL means to their schools -- and how it helps them move towards full inclusion.

  4. I Want to Say Documentary Trailer (02:14)

    This documentary profiles several young people with autism and how touch-enabled technology has changed their lives. Posted by Hacking Autism, this video is meant as a call to action for tech developers to apply their skills to help people with autism. See the whole 27-minute documentary here.

  5. Assistive Technology in Action - Meet Mason (04:16)

    The Family Center on Technology and Disability (FCTD) and PACER Center produced this fantastic series of video profiles called Assistive Technology in Action to raise awareness about AT and its many applications.

  6. K-12 Using Assistive Technology for Math and Science (03:35)

    You can find a variety of useful videos about assistive technology on the YouTube channel of the Ottawa Network for Education, including one similar to this one about writing, and a five-part series about implementation.

  7. Technology in Special Education Classrooms (01:58)

    Teachers and parents from Lux Middle School, in Lincoln, Nebraska, talk about how technology can level the playing field for kids with special needs.

  8. Meet Lianna - Assistive Technology and Cerebral Palsy (07:54)

    A 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy uses an eye-controlled camera to help her communicate in this profile from the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

  9. The Case Against Assistive Technology (03:18)

    Though it takes a while to get to its point that AT is non-negotiable in the 21st century, this is still a worthwhile video, especially if you need a kickoff while making the case for access to better tech for your students.

More Resources on Using Assistive Technology in the Classroom

I hope the stories above moved you and inspired you to learn more! As complex and varied as the challenges to learning can be, and as overwhelming as it is for teachers who have limited resources in classrooms filled with incredibly diverse learners, it's helpful to know that there are myriad options out there for technology tools to help all students get the access they need. Again, I encourage you to look over the new Edutopia Assistive Technology Roundup for a much more comprehensive exploration. Below are just a few more resources to help you learn about tools for your classroom.

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