Enable Ireland is introducing educators to assistive technology for children

9 May 2022

Image: © Halfpoint/Stock.adobe.com

Enable Ireland has worked with Microsoft for 20 years on projects related to assistive technologies. Its latest course is aimed at teachers, SNAs and parents of primary school children with disabilities to help them use tech to learn.

Primary school teachers, special needs assistants (SNAs) and parents of children with disabilities can now avail of a new online course focused on assistive technology (AT).

The AT course was designed by Irish non-profit Enable Ireland with support from Microsoft.

Enable Ireland works with people with disabilities and their families across the country. It has an online learning portal with several different courses in AT geared towards users, parents, teachers and clinicians with an interest in assistive technologies.

Its new course is called Learning with Assistive Technology – Primary Education. It aims to empower teachers, SNAs and parents to provide better outcomes for students living with disabilities. It takes around 12 hours to complete and is self-directed.

Learners will familiarise themselves with topics relevant to primary school-aged students including universal design for learning, AT to support access to computers and mobile devices, supports for oral language, writing, reading and Irish, software and apps to support maths, technologies to support visual arts, drama, and music and ideas, technologies, and adaptations to support those who can’t otherwise participate in standard sports and activities.

Speaking about the new course, Siobhán Long, Enable Ireland’s national AT service manager, said that she and her colleagues had found that early introduction to AT leads to better outcomes and increased engagement levels among users.

“The course is designed to equip the learner with the knowledge and skills required to guide students as they progress through to second-level education and beyond,” she explained.

“With this ambition in mind, we have developed this course specifically for those with key roles in primary education and the guardians of primary level students using AT. We have significant experience of what works and what types of assistive technologies are available, and we want to share that experience with others.”

In 2020, Long spoke to SiliconRepublic.com about AT’s role in helping people with disabilities during the pandemic.

Enable Ireland has collaborated with Microsoft for 20 years on AT-related projects. “Working with Enable Ireland, we’re able to unleash the power of assistive technology, transforming the lives of people living with disabilities,” said James O’Connor, vice-president of Microsoft international operations.

“Enable Ireland’s new AT course is an important development in the AT story as it will support people caring for and educating those with additional needs to develop the skills required to integrate AT seamlessly into the classroom or the home environment.”

The course is available to teachers for €50, and to parents and SNAs at the discounted rate of €25.

Other courses available on the Enable Ireland portal include a Foundations in Assistive Technologies course, as well as several courses designed to help people use AT to engage in pastimes such as art, photography and music.

Enable Ireland also offers a free introductory course focusing on AT at primary level for those who are unable to commit to 12 hours. This course offers a broad overview of the topic and lasts approximately 1.5 hours.

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.