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Special Education: A Guide to Technology Options

By Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch

Teachers who work with students who have special needs may find that their students benefit from assistive devices. These Bright Hub articles can provide information on technology in the classroom, what options are available for different disorders and legal and IEP questions teachers may have.

Defining Its Use for Special Education

What is assistive technology? The National Center on Accessible Information Technology in Education at the University of Washington Technology Options defines it as “technology used by individuals with disabilities in order to perform functions that might otherwise be difficult or impossible,” which can include “mobility devices such as walkers and wheelchairs, as well as hardware, software and peripherals that assist people with disabilities in accessing computers or other information technologies.” In special education, assistive technologies help students achieve their best by providing them the tools to work around the difficulties they have. These adaptations and accommodations can help special-needs students’ strengths shine through in the classroom.

The Need for Assistive Technology in the Classroom

Assistive devices can help students who struggle in academic fields such as writing, math, reading, listening, and memory and organization. These Bright Hub articles provide some background information on options for students and why these high tech and low tech options can be beneficial in the classroom.

How Do You Get These Services?

For a child to have access to these services in the classroom, several steps need to be taken. If the child meets criteria for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the IEP team can include assistive devices as one of the provisions needed. Teachers (and parents too!) can find information on the process of getting technology for a student, as well as different grants that can help fund the cost.

Legal Information on These Technologies

In 1988, Congress passed the Assistive Technology Act, which was reauthorized in 1994, 1998 and 2004. The purpose of this act is to provide adaptations to people with disabilities, including students. Teachers can find more information on the Assistive Technology Act at Bright Hub.

Options for Physical Disabilities

Do you have a student with a physical disability whom would benefit from technology in the classroom? Bright Hub has several articles on adaptations and accommodations for students with physical limitations. Find solutions for students with limited motor skills, difficulty with mobility and body posturing problems. Teachers can also find articles on specific conditions in which motor function is affected, such as cerebral palsy.

Options for Language, Hearing and Visual Disorders

If a child has difficulty with speaking, reading, hearing or seeing, it can affect the child's performance in school. But different types of assistive devices can help a child with those difficulties, allowing her to do her best in class. These articles provide teachers with information on different types of technology that can help children with expressive language disorders, visual impairments, hearing impairments and trouble reading.

Options for ADHD, Autism and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Students with specific conditions, such as ADHD, autism and fetal alcohol syndrome, can benefit from different technologies in the classroom. Bright Hub has articles on assistive devices for children with these conditions and how they can be implemented in the classroom.

Examples of Different Types

A specific type of assistive technology can help students with several different types of special needs. These articles give in-depth information of different types of adaptations and accommodations and how they can be used in the classroom. Teachers can also learn about the pros and cons of a specific type of technology.

Helping Students Achieve and Succeed

Finding the right technological aids can help a student with special needs succeed in the classroom. These options can help students overcome difficulties they are having and let their strengths come to the forefront. Is there a specific type of assistive device you have found useful in the classroom? Or, do you have advice for other teachers for helping students who use assistive technologies in the classroom? Leave us a comment to let us know!