Technology provides equal access to education

Technology is breaking down barriers to learning for students with disability.

Image: Riley Saban presents at the interactED Access All Areas event using his speech-generating device.

More than 180 teachers from Greater Sydney public schools participated in a day of professional development last week to equip them with tips and tools to help students with special needs through the use of technology.

The sold-out interactED Access All Areas event was held at the department's Parramatta office and included hands-on learning sessions with some of the big names in learning technology, including LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft, Google and Apple.

Teachers also heard first-hand stories from other teachers about the accessibility journey at their schools, as well as the experience of Year 10 Woolgoolga High student Riley Saban, who communicates entirely through a speech-generating device on his computer.

Demonstrating a school assignment task on the novel, ‘Jasper Jones’, Riley explained how he uses the same educational technologies available in schools to be an active participant in educational activities.

“With the right tools, you can achieve anything,” Riley said.

“My destiny is to lead people with disabilities to an inclusive society so they believe they can achieve their dreams and goals successfully.”

Riley showed attendees his digital workflow which is “essential for learning” and allows digital versions of books, worksheets and assignments be read aloud to him.

He explained that he uses Eye Gaze to control his Microsoft Surface Pro, but due to the time-consuming nature of writing essays using his Eye Gaze device, Riley prefers to create short movies and music to explain his thoughts on subjects.

“Assistive technologies enable me to be independent at school, and in other environments. Without assistive technologies, I wouldn’t and couldn’t be doing the things I am doing today,” Riley said.

The interactED Access All Areas also showcased new and emerging assistive technologies, such as telepresence robots that allow students who can’t physically attend school to participate in classroom learning.

The department’s Deputy Secretary, School Operations, Murat Dizdar, said new technology can enhance and personalise the learning experiences of every student in the classroom.

“The NSW Department of Education is committed to helping our teachers and support staff across all NSW public schools to deliver a high-quality education for all our students,” Mr Dizdar said.

interactED Access All Areas will empower teachers of all experience levels with the tools to increase their capabilities using technology and support every learner in the classroom with equal access to education.”

For more information on upcoming events, visit the Technology 4 Learning website.

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