Michael Behrmann Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Posted: February 18, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Ferraro

Michael Behrmann
Michael Behrmann
Photo by Evan Cantwell

Michael Behrmann, director of the Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities and professor in the Graduate School of Education, has devoted his career to generating new ideas and concepts in technology, improving services to children and developing innovative personnel preparation programs.

Every year the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) recognizes special educators who have advanced the field and the quality of special education service. As a CEC member for 35 years, Behrmann is being honored with the council’s J.E. Wallace Wallin Special Education Lifetime Achievement Award. This award recognizes an individual who has made continued and sustained contributions to the education of children and youth with exceptionalities.

“It’s a pleasure just to be recognized for all of my hard work,” says Behrmann. “I have received so much support from the faculty in the College of Education and Human Development. Those who have won the award in the past have been great leaders in the field, so it is nice company to keep.”

As a pioneer for assistive and instructional technology, Behrmann has received more than 100 funded grants during his career. In 1980, his assistive technology research refuted doubters who said infants and toddlers could not use computers to interact with their environment.

He has served as a representative of numerous organizations at the local, state, national and international levels that are devoted to helping people with disabilities. Since coming to Mason in 1979, he has secured more than $35 million in external grants and contracts, $11 million in revenue-based projects and $3.5 million in gifts for special education.

After designing and implementing one of the first master’s programs in assistive technology at Mason, Behrmann worked with the Mason IT faculty to create a full-time instructional design program where funded student-faculty teams design real-world products for clients. The web site T/TAC Online, which is used to improve educational opportunities and contribute to the success of children and youth with disabilities, is one example of Behrmann’s interactive learning solutions.

Behrmann was instrumental in the development of the Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) Virginia Project, which provides free accessible instructional materials to Virginia public schools. Using the resources of local, state and national public-and private-sector agencies, these materials are provided for the estimated 70,000 children in Virginia with print disabilities.

Currently, he is testing the Kellar Instructional Handheld Data System (KIHD), a wireless PDA-based data collection system for teachers that automatically graphs observational data on student behavior. Other research interests range from robotics and expert systems to early childhood and distance education.

Behrmann will receive the award at the National CEC meeting on April 2 in Boston.

“Assistive technology is the thread that has permeated most of my leadership and research activities over the years, and it’s an honor to be nominated,” says Behrmann.

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