Assistive technology adds up to better understanding

By Niraj Parikh

In Gompers’ Assistive Technology Lab, the phrase “team teaching” takes on a bit of a different meaning than it does in a traditional classroom.

Today, Jeffrey Schultz — a volunteer in Gompers’ Assistive Technology Lab and a student at ASU — is working with DTA member Cody in building his math skills. The two are using Khan Academy, a free online program open to anyone wishing to work on various skill sets at his or her individual pace.

cory 2Khan Academy flips the traditional educational model upside down. It provides theoretical knowledge and encourages students to do their work alongside a teacher so, if they get it wrong, the teacher is right there to explain and pupils can better understand how to determine the correct answer.

The math exercise Cody and Jeffrey are using today is not simply numbers on paper. The online instructor “draws” on the computer screen and illustrates a problem using coins, pieces of fruit or other tangible items to help the learner reach the correct answer. This is “assistive” technology in the sense that it is providing an alternate way of looking at a problem. Seated nearby, Jeffrey is able to reiterate the lesson using a pad of paper and written numbers so Cody is better able to understand the correlation.

In the AT Lab, Cody likes having the dual approach with the Khan Academy program and Jeffrey nearby to assist. “I think it’s a good way to learn,” he says.

For more information about this free program, go to

Niraj Parikh is the Assistive Technology Specialist at Gompers.