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University of Iowa News Release


July 21, 2008

Assistive Technology Institute to benefit teachers, students across Iowa

Students with disabilities in Iowa -- and those who help them learn -- will have an opportunity to benefit from the latest technological advancements available.

An estimated 23 teachers, speech pathologists, parents of students with disabilities, and others will participate in the first Assistive Technology Summer Institute, sponsored by the Iowa Center for Assistive Technology Education and Research (ICATER) in the University of Iowa College of Education. The institute will be offered from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, July 24 and Friday, July 25, in Room N168 at the University of Iowa Lindquist Center.

The institute will help expand educational opportunities for students with disabilities in Iowa, according to ICATER Coordinator James Stachowiak.

The institute is a unique summer learning opportunity that combines discussion of current relevant topics in assistive technology with hands-on learning opportunities of some of the most recent and most commonly used software programs.

"There are a lot of schools out there that have assistive technology or students that would benefit from it," Stachowiak said. "But not enough teachers know how to use it. Something like this gives hands-on experience on what's the latest and greatest materials available and the laws that go with them."

Assistive technology (AT) is any item, piece of equipment or product system that increases, maintains or improves functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities, according to the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals With Disabilities Act of 1988.

At the institute, AT professionals, special education teachers, general education teachers, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, counselors, psychologists, parents of students with disabilities, and students with disabilities across the state will learn how to use AT software such as Dragon Naturally Speaking Version 9, Read and Write Gold, WordQ and SpeakQ, IntelliTools and Clicker 5. They will also discuss issues involved with AT and learn about the legal requirements in a school setting.

Stachowiak, who will conduct the program, holds a master's degree in biomedical/rehabilitation engineering from the University of Michigan and is a RESNA certified Assistive Technology Practitioner. As coordinator of ICATER, Stachowiak has presented AT topics to numerous classes within the UI College of Education. He is also the instructor for ICATER's online course "An Introduction to Assistive Technology."

"Our center has been here a couple years," Stachowiak said. "I hope this summer program will be successful by bringing in teachers and other professionals across the state and open their eyes on how AT can help students and promote our mission of helping better educate students with disabilities."

For more information on the institute or a complete schedule, see or contact Stachowiak at or 319-335-5280.

Located in the College of Education, the Iowa Center for Assistive Technology Education and Research offers a place for the advancement and dissemination of assistive technology. The emphases of the center are education, training and research. The center provides hands-on training in assistive technology to College of Education students, staff and faculty. The center also engages in research projects to aid in examining the effectiveness of assistive technology in education, living and work.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: James Stachowiak, Iowa Center for Assistive Technology Education and Research 319-335-5280,; Lois J. Gray, University News Services, 319-384-0077,; Writer: Aly Dolan

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you would like to interview Stackowiak or one of the participants or to arrange a time to take photos or get video footage, contact Stachowiak at 319-335-5280 or Lois Gray at 319-384-0077.