Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Special Education is one of the more challenging, dynamic, growing areas of education and is reflected in early childhood, primary and secondary learning contexts with many students with disability and diverse needs requiring high-quality differentiated teaching and personalised learning approaches. Evidenced-based, research-informed scholarly practice is promoted in careful planning, delivering and evaluating universally designed programs to engage all students in achieving their goals.

In this unit pre-service teachers consider the use of assistive technology to aid in the performance of everyday functions and its application for people living with disabilities. Pre-service teachers will examine available technologies and evaluate a range of high tech and low-tech devices which can promote independence and empowerment for people living with disabilities. There will be a focus on the identification and response to communication impairments involving students with disability, in collaboration with parents/carers and other professionals. As well as accessing resources available in the local and international environment, pre-service teachers will build on individual experiences with assistive technology in various settings.

The aim of this unit is to assist pre-service teachers to develop understanding of the broader implications of disability on learning and the responsibilities of teachers to enable successful student participation and learning through the use of adjustments, technology and communication systems.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Discuss the broader implications of disability on learning and ethical, legal and professional responsibilities of teachers to address these students’ learning needs. Describe definitions, theories and philosophical issues relating to the use of assistive technologies (GA8; APST 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 1.6)

LO2 - Identify and assess communication impairments and barriers, and plan suitable universal design for learning and differentiated teaching strategies with appropriate pedagogy and adjustments in K-12 Curriculum or Life Skills in collaboration with parents/carers and other professionals (GA8, GA9; APST 3.5, 3.6, 4.1)

LO3 - Differentiate social and environmental factors influencing the use of assistive technologies (GA6, GA8, GA9; APST 3.7, 4.1, 4.2, 7.3)

LO4 - Assess the use of appropriate technologies and communication systems (GA6, GA10; APST 5.1)

Graduate attributes

GA6 - Solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - Locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information

GA9 - Demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media

GA10 - Utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively


On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should be able to:

1.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students and how these may affect learning.

1.2 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of research into how students learn and the implications for teaching.

1.3 Demonstrate knowledge of teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

1.5 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of strategies for differentiating teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities.

1.6 Demonstrate broad knowledge and understanding of legislative requirements and teaching strategies that support participation and learning of students with disability.

3.5 Demonstrate a range of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies to support student engagement.

3.6 Demonstrate broad knowledge of strategies that can be used to evaluate teaching programs to improve student learning.

3.7 Describe a broad range of strategies for involving parents/carers in the educative process.

4.1 Identify strategies to support inclusive student participation and engagement in classroom activities.

4.2 Demonstrate the capacity to organise classroom activities and provide clear directions.

5.1 Demonstrate understanding of assessment strategies, including informal and formal, diagnostic, formative and summative approaches to assess student learning.

7.3 Understand strategies for working effectively, sensitively and confidentially with parents/carers.


Topics will include:

  • Broader implications of disability on learning and teachers’ ethical and legal responsibility to address these students’ needs to increase their access and participation and achievement in learning including Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) and levels of adjustment support
  • Definitions, theories and philosophical issues relating to adjustments and assistive technology
  • Instructional programs: Assessment and teaching. Universal Design for Learning and differentiated teaching strategies and adjustments for a full range of students with disability, including pedagogy on explicit instruction, cooperative learning, and peer tutoring
  • Development of supplementary, substantial and extensive adjustments across K-12 curriculum areas/ Life Skills including requirements for the record of School Achievement and Higher School Certificate
  • Collaborating with parents/carers and other professionals in planning support, including National Disability Insurance Scheme, (NDIS)
  • Communication impairments
  • Contemporary assistive technology
  • Social and environmental factors influencing the use of assistive technology
  • Assessment of assistive technology needs

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

150 hours in total with a normal expectation of 36 hours of directed study and the total contact hours should not exceed 36 hours. Directed study might include lectures, tutorials, webinars, podcasts etc. The balance of the hours then becomes private study.

The teaching and learning organisation may take a number of forms, depending on specific course/subject requirements at the time of delivery, this may include a combination of face to face and/or online learning delivered on a weekly or intensive schedule. Tutorials and/or synchronous learning will enable students to participate in cooperative and supportive learning opportunities. All learning modes will be delivered and/or supported by a range of resources and activities on ACU’s technology learning platform (LEO).

Assessment strategy and rationale

This unit has two assessment tasks. The first assessment task requires students to critically analyse the broader implications of disability on students’ learning and teachers’ responsibility in the use of low and high technology devises (LO1, LO2). The second assessment task requires students to use an assessment tool to conduct a communication assessment with an individual in a case study whom has communication impairment and plan suitable teaching strategies and adjustments to increase access and participation in learning in collaboration with parents/carers and other professionals (LO1, LO2). As part of this adjustment, students are required to identity an assistive technology devise then research, analyse and discuss the benefits and limitations (LO3 & 4).

Through the completion of these assessments students will progressively develop their ability to assess for communication impairments, and plan appropriate adjustments including the use of assistive technology and communication systems for those with a disability, enabling access and participation in learning.

Assessment Tasks

The assessment tasks and their weighting for this unit are designed to demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome. In order to pass this unit, students are required to submit and participate in all assessment tasks.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Critical analysis of the broader implications of disability on learning and the ethical and legal responsibility of teachers to address these identified NCCD support needs in the use of low and high technology devices in K-12 curriculum/Life Skills.


LO1, LO2

GA8, GA9

Assessment Task 2

Assess the communication needs impairments of an individual in a case study with a complex disability and plan suitable UDL teaching strategy and pedagogy, including augmentative levels of adjustments, in collaboration with parents/carers/other professionals, to enable access and participation in learning, including NDIS support. As part of the adjustment, identify an Assistive Technology device, research, analyse and discuss its benefits and limitations.


LO2, LO3, LO4

GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Required text(s)

Australian Curriculum

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)

Recommended References

Alberto, P., & Troutman, A. (2013). Applied behaviour analysis for teachers (9th ed.). Pearson.

Ashman, A. F. (Ed.). (2019). Education for inclusion and diversity (6th ed.). Pearson Australia.

Coyne, M., Kame’enui, E., & Carnine, D. (Eds.). (2011). Effective teaching strategies that accommodate diverse learners (4th ed.). Pearson.

Graham, L. J. (2020). Inclusive education for the 21st century: theory, policy and practice. Allen & Unwin.

Hollander, E., Hagerman, R. J., & Fein, D. (2018). Autism spectrum disorders. American Psychiatric Association Publishing.

Lancioni, G.E. (2014). Assistive technologies for people with diverse abilities. New York, NY: Springer.

Lancioni, G.E., Sigafoos, J., O’Reilly, M.F., & Singh, N.N. (2013). Assistive technology: Interventions for individuals with severe/profound and multiple disabilities. Springer.

Scherer, M. (2012) Assistive technologies and other supports for people with brain impairment. Springer.

Tomlinson, C.A., & Imbeau, M. (2010). Leading and managing a differentiated classroom. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

United Nations. (2006). Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Wendt, O., Quist, R.W., & Lloyd L.L. (2011). Assistive Technology Principles and Applications for Communication Disorders and Special Education. Emerald Group Publishers.

Westward, P. (2013). Learning and learning difficulties: Approaches to teaching and assessment (2nd ed.). ACER Press.

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