Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM-VA)

Accessible Instructional Materials -VA (AIM-VA) has a brand new website. Check out the beautiful graphics and new sections that address information needed by students, parents, and teachers.  Please share the link to this website with others, so ALL students who need accessible instructional materials will get them.

Some wonder….. are accessible instructional materials considered AT? Here’s  a quote from  the National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials.

What does AT have to do with AIM?

Assistive technology (AT) and accessible instructional materials (AIM) are closely linked. IDEA references access to printed instructional materials that can be converted into the specialized formats of braille, large print, audio, or digital text.Other than embossed braille and hard copy large print, specialized formats require technology to deliver the content to the student. When a student served under IDEA needs technology for access to the content and the curriculum, the technology meets the definition of AT.


Friday Research Spotlight: “Predicting interventionists’ intention to use video self-modeling”

Video self-modeling ( requires educators to use video recorders–which seems like “no big thing.” As those of us with packed instructional schedules know, however, it is a really big thing! A recent study (see below)  explored whether 81 educators’ use of video self-modeling interventions could be predicted based on “perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and treatment acceptability” reported in a survey.

Here’s a sample of the questions they asked about “perceived ease of use”:

1. Learning to operate digital camcorders, like the Flip, would be easy for me.
2. I would find it easy to get digital camcorders, like the Flip, to do what I want.
3. My interaction with digital camcorders, like the Flip, would be clear and understandable.
4. I would find digital camcorders, like the Flip, to be flexible to interact with.
5. It would be easy for me to become skillful using digital camcorders, like the Flip.
6. I would find digital camcorders, like the Flip, easy to use.

The researchers ran statistical tests on the data and found a significant (more than can be attributed to chance) portion of interventionists’ intention to use video self-modeling can be explained by:

  1. perceptions about how useful of digital camcorders are
  2. how easy they are to use
  3. how much they accepted video self-modeling

They recommend professional development around digital camera usefulness and convenience. Do you have a similar experience?

Read the study: Heckman, A., Cummings, J., & Bellini, S. (2014). Predicting interventionists’ intention to use video self-modeling: An investigation of the intervention technology acceptance model. Journal of Special Education Technology, (29)1, 35-49.

If you are in Virginia Superintendent’s regions 1&8, we’ll get the study to you!

Friday Research Spotlight: How is technology used in the education of students with disabilities? Results of a statewide study

Okolo, C., & Diedrich, J. (2014). Twenty-five years later: How is technology used in the education of students with disabilities? Results of a statewide study. Journal of Special Education Technology, 29(1),

The researchers (from Michigan State University and Michigan Integrated Technology Supports) report results of 1143 of their state’s educators who complete a survey about their use of technology in their personal and professional lives and in the instruction of students with disabilities. The survey responses reflect that the professionals use it for themselves more than student instruction.

“Scores on measures of self-reported knowledge and perceived support vary significantly among different categories of respondents and are only moderate for special educators and low for general educators. Nevertheless, educators express interest in further professional development about AT. The need for additional professional development, along with better access to technology and more funding, are perceived as top barriers to more widespread AT use. Other findings include a lack of knowledge about how technology is used by students in and out of school and the low rate of participation of general educators, students, and parents in AT decisions.”

Want to read the entire article? Find it at a local library or contact us if you are in Virginia’s Superintendent’s Regions 1 and 8.

Friday Research Spotlight: TTS, adolescents, and expository reading

Why read the article? The authors (from Purdue University) include a nice literature review on three key aspects of adolescents’ use of TTS: fluency, reading comprehension, and task completion. That alone is worth a review.

The research questions are:

“In comparison to reading on the computer without TTS, does the use of TTS affect oral reading fluency, comprehension, and task completion time while reading grade-level expository text?” and

“What are students’ perspectives of using TTS for reading grade-level expository text?”

In this study, researchers worked with three middle school students with specific learning disabilities in reading and conducted a multiple-baseline-across-participants design to explore the first question.

In the words of the authors, “TTS did not affect students’ fluency, comprehension, or task completion time, although social validity interviews revealed that each student valued the independence and efficiency TTS provided. Students believed they comprehended fully, read more fluently, and finished the reading task more quickly with TTS than without it.”

What do we think of that?

Meyer, N., & Bouck, E. (2014). The impact of text-to-speech on expository reading for adolescents with LD. Journal of Special Education Technology, 29(1), 21-33.

Want to read it? Find it online, in print in your local state university library, or contact us if you live in Superintendent’s regions 1 and 8 and we’ll send it to you!

Friday Research Spotlight-Hearing math: Algebra supported eText for students with visual impairments

Bouck, E., & Weng, P. (In press). Hearing math: Algebra supported eText for students with visual impairments. Assistive Technology. doi:10.1080/10400435.2013.870939

OK, so technically it’s not published yet, but we’re quite interested in this new study from Bouck and Weng. The two researchers used a qualitative approach to explore how supported e-text worked in teaching algebra to students with visual impairments. They looked to compare supported e-text with their former methods of access. Clearly, there will need to be a lot of AT support as math is quite visual (images, charts, graphs, symbols, spatial relationships…) but this will start the ball rolling for the field.

Friday Research Spotlight: Interactive assistive kitchen system

Wouldn’t you like to see this?

“…an assistive kitchen system consisting of a user interface with two-way speech communication and an automated cabinet system [that] incorporates a cognitive assistance feature that helps the user in overcoming initiation, planning, attention, and memory deficits, while performing kitchen-based activities of daily living (ADLs) such as storing and retrieving items, and obtaining recipes for meal preparation. This feature works synchronously with the automated kitchen cabinet to directly provide the location of an item to a user, bring the item in closer reach and also prompt the user to retrieve the item.”

Two researchers had a prototype of the assistive kitchen system created and conducted a study to test it, reporting that older adults were successful in retrieving and storing specified kitchen items.

What might this mean for our students with needs for cognitive supports as they transition to adulthood and maximize their independence?

Want to read the entire thing? Click on If you are a resident of Virginia, contact us and we’ll get you a copy!

Ficocelli, M., & Nejat, G. (2012). The design of an interactive assistive kitchen system. Assistive Technology, 24(4), 246-258.


Friday Research Spotlight: Acceptance of assistive technology by special education teachers

In a recent study, researchers set out to check out the relationships between things they believed determined whether teacher accepted AT: condition, perceived ease of use, computer self-efficacy, result demonstrability, perceived usefulness, and behavioral intention. The researchers then collected data from special education teachers in schools for students with visual and/or auditory disabilities. One of the findings is that “perceived usefulness” was quite important. This makes us wonder how much of the “hard sell” we need to do as AT team members…

Want to read the entire thing? Check it out at or (if you are a resident of Virginia) email us and we’ll send you a copy for free!

Nama, C., Bahna, S., & Leeb, R. (2013). Acceptance of assistive technology by special education teachers: A structural equation model approach. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 29 (5), 365-377. doi:10.1080/10447318.2012.711990

Friday Research Spotlight: “What I need to know about assistive technology research”

Check out Greg O’Connor’s “Keeping up to date: What I need to know about assistive technology research” at for a nice overview of getting rolling on researching AT and for a handout.

Friday Research Spotlight: Dave Edyburn’s “What Have We Learned Lately?”

Here’s what Dave Edyburn writes on his webpage,

For the past 12 years I have conducted an annual review of the special education technology literature. This work involves scanning the contents of 31 journals and capturing each article that I think is relevant to the work of special education technology professionals. After reading, analyzing, and indexing each article, I prepare an analysis of this one-year profile of the knowledge base. The purpose of this work is to answer the question, “What have we learned lately?” I like to think that if busy professionals only have time to read one article, the annual year in review should be first on their reading list!

Read the reviews at

Friday Research Spotlight: Hints from the NATE Network

On Wednesday, we shared info on the National Assistive Technology in Education (NATE) Network again. Today, take a look at the helpful hints the NATE Network offers related to exploring the research on assistive technology:

As you scroll down the page, you’ll see quick summaries of the research designs common to the field of special education, disability studies, and (of course) assistive technology. Many of these designs have been used in the Friday Research Spotlights here on the AT Blog. Having this resource may help you better understand the research we continue to share with you.