Kellar Institute Collaborates on Federal Project

Posted: January 4, 2001 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Elena Barbre

The U.S. Department of Education has funded a cooperative agreement to establish the Assistive Technology Institute, and it has selected the Graduate School of Education’s Helen A. Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities as a case study specialist for the project.

The purpose of the four-year project, conducted by the University of Kentucky in collaboration with local, state, and regional education agencies; institutions of higher education; and related national institutes and agencies, is to study the use of assistive technology to improve the provision of a free public education for children with disabilities. Goals are to examine factors related to the planning, development, implementation, and evaluation of assistive technology services in schools and to disseminate the findings of the research in ways that will help school personnel develop and improve assistive technology policies and practices for students with disabilities.

The Kellar Institute’s role is to conduct qualitative research, and the Fairfax County Public Schools will serve as one of the benchmark schools for the project, says Mike Behrmann, director of the institute and Kellar Professor of Special Education. Studies will be conducted on the status of assistive technology use in schools and the role it plays in the education of students with disabilities; the policies school districts use to develop and deliver assistive technology services to their students; the training and technical support that is needed to provide these services; the ways assistive technology is integrated into learning environments; the effect assistive technology devices and services have on students’ academic, social, and functional performance; and the extent to which colleges and universities are helping their student teachers develop assistive technology knowledge and skills.

“The Kellar Institute has been involved in research with technology in special education since 1979, and has designed and implemented one of the first ongoing master’s and doctoral degree programs in assistive/special education technology,” says Behrmann. “We are very excited about participating in a national institute of this stature.”

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