The Iowa Assistive Technology Professional Development Network, funded through the University of Iowa’s Office of the Provost and facilitated by ICATER, will create, coordinate, and provide AT professional development opportunities to professionals, parents, and individuals with disabilities across the state of Iowa, focusing especially on educational and employment settings.
Importance to Iowa Education
In the most recent report on standardized test achievement from the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa ranked last in the United States in the achievement gap between students with and without disabilities. A large, underutilized resource for improving this is the use of AT for students with disabilities in the classroom. During the 2008-2009 school year, ICATER conducted a statewide needs assessment on AT in K-12 classrooms to determine the biggest barriers to AT use. The biggest barriers were teachers’ lack of awareness of available AT, lack of training opportunities, and lack of training time. The creation of the Network aims to address all of these issues by providing training opportunities for all educators across the state. Available training will help create a better understanding of AT, thereby encouraging more effective usage in the classroom.