On Monday, November 21, undergraduate students in Dr. Cate Smith's SPE 3380: Assistive Technology in Special Education course demonstrated their low-tech assistive technology devices at a Low Tech Device Gallery.
The students were tasked with creating a device that would assist a user with a disability in the performance of an academic or functional skill. SPE 3380 prepares pre-service teachers and those in related fields to identify potential assistive technologies (AT) to help students of all ages and disability categories to be more independent and successful in school and life endeavors. By creating a low-tech device of their own, SPE 3380 students take part in the AT process and develop confidence and knowledge regarding the creation and implementation of an AT device. They are also able to share their knowledge and inventions with their classmates thereby building community expertise. Students and guests also get the chance to vote on their favorite devices based on practicality, cost efficiency, uniqueness and design.
Monica Gelot’s device, the Yolax Mat, guides students through relaxation techniques. Colorful prints show students with Autism or Emotional or Behavioral Disorders (EBD) where to place their hands, feet, and knees during stretching or yoga exercises. Amelia Beimler’s device, a weighted blanket, contains pockets of beads, making it a washable solution for the classroom. Students can cozy up with this blanket to reduce anxiety and help with Anxiety, ADHD, Autism, OCD, and Sensory Processing Disorders.
Emily Gergely displays her unique fidget toy devices to Dr. Chris Van Loan. Gergely created items such as glitter timers, stress balls, and paint sketch pads with items purchased from the Dollar Tree making these devices cost-friendly solutions for the Exceptional Children (EC) teacher. Alongside her is Breezy Howe who is displaying her adaptive silverware. These custom forks, knives, and spoons help students with fine motor skill disabilities to find a better grip on the utensils making mealtimes go more smoothly and giving students more confidence.
Kendra Settle presents her sensory weighted lap pad. Settle purchased the pillow at Walmart, took out the stuffing, and added her unique fidget tools. She targeted multiple senses by incorporating tactile objects like a starfish and zippers, auditory items like bells, and visual items such as the rhinestone strip.
Ty Parker shows off his chair bouncer. By applying a thick exercise band to the bottom of a chair, Ty hopes to give students with ADHD some relief. By bouncing their feet on the chair, students are given an easy outlet for their energy and encouraged to remain calm and concentrated.
Alex Trejo-Sanchez demonstrates his whisper phone. This device gives students a fun way to get more comfortable speaking aloud or in social situations while also developing their fluency. He constructed the whisper phone with materials costing less than $10.
Courtney Malone shows off her book/tablet support and page turner to Dr. Cate Smith. Malone’s device can be used for students with cerebral palsy or others needing positioning support.