Virtual Assistive Technology

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Virtual Assistive Technology Two of the biggest challenges currently faced by both special and general educators are to diversify instruction in order to make core content area curriculum available to all learners and to keep the learners involved and interested in the learning process. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) mandate that statewide tests be used to measure and evaluate student progress. This leaves educators striving to adapt their instruction to accommodate the needs of students in terms of learning styles and ability. It has been suggested in the literature that virtual reality (VR) has the potential to assist educators in accommodating…show more content…
Current Uses of Virtual Reality Psychologists are currently using VR for desensitization therapy for patients with phobias (Carlin, Hoffman, & Weghorst, 1997), posttraumatic stress (Difede & Hoffman, 2002), and schizophrenia (Versweyveld, 2002). Clinics are also using VR to assess and treat patients with eating disorders (Riva, Bacchetta, Baruffi, Rinaldi, & Molinari, 1999) and attention deficit disorder (Rizzo, et al., 2000). Hoffman (2004) describes using VR as a distraction from the extreme pain experienced by children and adolescents during care after severe burns. During the skin grafting and wound cleansing, patients typically report a pain level of 8-10 (on a scale of 1-10). When exposed to a VR environment during treatment, patients reported pain levels of 2-3. He hypothesized that by focusing and concentrating on the virtual world that patients may have blocked the pain impulses to the brain. Based on these findings, Neel (2006) suggests that using VR to block unwanted impulses in children with severe ADHD may be an area for further research. In the field of education, we are slowly integrating technologies such as VR into our traditional teaching. The Applied Computer Simulations Laboratory was created to assist students with physical disabilities (Bowman, 1997). In the lab, VR is used to assist students with physical disabilities to learn to drive motorized wheelchairs in a natural environment. Another program consists of a
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