The SOAR Project strives to generate long-term legacy benefit from initiatives with impact that endures beyond the life cycle of the project. Encouraging students, and in particular students with disabilities to engage with assistive technology (AT) in school and / or further education can alleviate learning challenges, enhance the learning environment and support their transition readiness to higher education. Educators and support staff play an instrumental role to support and encourage student engagement with AT. A ‘Train-the-Trainer’ strand to AT outreach was therefore developed to support this. A suite of AT training initiatives have been devised that target school staff including principals, teachers, Special Education Needs Co-Ordinators (SENCos) and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs). This training can be delivered in parallel to school AT programmes or independently.
Teacher Education Centres
Partnership with Education Centres across the cluster has been a key enabler in rolling out Train–the-Trainer programmes. This successful collaboration has resulted in AT training embedded into Education Centre CPD training calendars. The project is currently engaged with centres in Tralee, Cork, West Cork, Kilkenny, Waterford, Laois, and Wexford. Since Covid-19, a considerable amount of training is delivered online, allowing a greater reach beyond the cluster region.
Case Study: Writing and Reading Webinar Series
MTU Kerry Campus & Tralee Education Centre
This consisted of a five-week programme of Writing and Reading webinars for sixty teachers and SNAs. Topics included:
- Technology supports for EAL (English as an additional language) students.
- Developing effective writing practice incorporating digital tools.
- Developing independent reading skills using AT.
- Mobile apps to support literacy and learning.
- Technology to help with reading and writing.
An additional EAL session was delivered in response to participant’s expressed need and the Education Centre hosted an ‘AT to help reading and writing’ session for parents and students to complement the programme.
Education Training Boards (ETBs)
ETB staff have also availed of Train-the-Trainer AT programmes, including staff from schools and education and training centres. Content is tailored to the education setting and learner needs; training has reached school students, EAL students and Back To Education Initiative programme participants.
Prison Education Service
A partnership was forged with the Prison Service (Midland and Portlaoise) Education Unit and an AT training programme was developed to accommodate offline access only and delivered to Education Unit Tutors.
HEI Staff and StudentAT Training
AT Coordinators regularly deliver AT training as part of HEI staff and student CPD, examples of such include:
- Autism awareness training, learning needs of students presenting with autism and advice on accessible teaching tools.
- ‘Disability in the Classroom’ AT / Disability Awareness session for Science faculty academic staff. An AT session was then delivered to Engineering and Science students.
- Generic AT training sessions for academic and support staff.
- Three AT sessions incorporated into a first year Social Care programme.
- AT training delivered to student SNAs.
For further information on Assistive Technology, outreach initiatives please contact:
|MTU Kerry Campus
Study Guidance and Transitions Facilitator
Enabling Transitions Coordinator
Enabling Transitions Project Co-Ordinator
Assistive Technology Outreach Coordinator