Description of Perceptions of Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments Regarding Assistive Technology: A Follow-up Study to a University Course
Structured abstract: Introduction: The study presented here examined the learning outcomes of graduate students in visual impairment who were enrolled in an assistive technology course in three university programs. Methods: The students' perceptions of learning were evaluated using pre- and posttests administered during the course. A follow-up questionnaire was e-mailed to the participants in 2011. Information gathered in the questionnaire included the participants' demographic characteristics, perceived level of skill, training since completion of the course, frequency of use of the devices with students, and perceptions of the importance of specific devices. Variables were coded using a Likert scale, and correlations were coded using Spearman's correlation for nonparametric data. Results: Pre–posttest data (n = 97) showed the participants' improvement in the use of devices introduced during the class, with a greater increase in devices specific to visual impairment. Data from the follow-up questionnaires (n = 60) revealed a relationship between the perceived importance of the devices, frequency of use, and the participants' skills. The participants were more likely to seek additional training if they perceived that a technology was frequently used and important. Discussion: The results suggest that a formal assistive technology course can contribute to the development of skills and that the participants' initiatives in setting priorities and seeking additional training were important for their continued acquisition of technology skills. Implications for practice: Teachers can benefit from university-based training in the use of assistive technology. Also, continued development of such skills is necessary to allow the teachers to gain expertise in the use of frequently used devices and in devices that they perceive as important in educational settings.