Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 2013


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Instructional Leadership Excellence (ILEAD)


School of Education

Committee Chair

David Carbonara

Committee Member

Rose Mary Mautino

Committee Member

Rachel Robertson


Assistive technology, High school, Knowledge, Professional development, Reading, Special Education teacher


This study investigated high school special education teachers' knowledge of assistive technology (AT) for students with reading difficulties in Southwestern Pennsylvania. A survey was disseminated via e-mail using the SurveyMonkey online survey tool to 201 special education teachers. The survey asked questions pertaining to the respondents' demographics, knowledge of assistive technology (AT), knowledge of reading (programs) and school district professional development. Most questions utilized a Likert-type scale format, however; the last question was open-ended and allowed participants to write a response about anything not asked in the survey about AT, reading or professional development. A total of 94 special education teachers responded to the survey for a 46.77 % response rate. Demographic data showed that respondents were mostly female (68.5 %), with a Master's degree (69.6 %) and averaged between 5-9 years of experience (27.2 %). Teachers had various special education teaching assignments.

Study results show that while almost all teachers (98.8 %) had at least some knowledge of the definition of AT, a number of them had no knowledge about the National Reading Panel's 5 domains for reading success (31.5 %), commercial programs to support reading (16.9 %), handheld device applications (apps.) (15.7 %) to assist with reading, or text reading programs (12.4 %). The survey also showed that (86.4 %) of the teachers received 10 hours or less of instruction in reading assessment/instruction.

Results of the study suggest that professional development is needed for advancing teacher knowledge of AT and assisting students with reading difficulties to meet the requirements of federal and state laws.