Technology is needed in every classroom regardless of what type of classroom it is. Every type of class uses some sort of technology to advance their students’ knowledge and speed up the learning process.
Technology is used more in a special education classroom than in any other classroom setting because of all the different types of students and their learning needs that need to be met in order to make education successful for them. There are different types of disabilities that special needs students suffer from. A huge percentage of students suffer from specific learning disabilities which can include learning impairments in Reading, Math and other subjects. Another large percentage of them suffer from speech or language impairments, others suffer intellectual disability, emotional disorders and hearing or visual impairments.
The use of assistive technology like computer software, communication devices and tablets is the new and innovative trend among educators. It is vital that schools must help students with special needs to access, participate, and progress in the general curriculum. Technology can help schools fulfill these requirements and help all students succeed. It can help personalize instruction for students with special needs and improve their learning. There are various strategies for integrating technology in a special education classroom, they’re listed below:
For students with mild cognitive disabilities in Reading, use reading skill software, text-to-speech products, interactive storybooks, etc. For those with mild impairments in Writing, use voice recognition and word prediction software. For the ones with mild disabilities in Mathematics, use graphing software, drills, games and tutorials.
For students with moderate to severe cognitive disabilities, software helps teach and reinforce functional skills such as money-management, daily living, etc., videos enhance acquisition, maintenance, and transfer of functional and community-based behaviors.
For students with physical disabilities provide alternate methods of accessing keyboard, mouse and monitor. Determine the best placement of adaptive technology and train the students so they are able to operate it independently. Monitor to ensure that the maximum level of participation is obtained without any undue physical demands.
For students with sensory disabilities such as blindness use canes and sensor technologies to assist movement, text-to-braille converters and screen readers. For visually impaired students, use CCTV (Closed-Circuit Television) magnification systems and built-in computer screen magnification control panels. For hearing impaired students, use assistive listening devices like FM amplification systems.
For students at-risk of learning, use software and websites that provide powerful and motivating opportunities to engage in learning activities and electronic quizzes and other instructional materials that provide immediate feedback on performance.
For students with special talents and gifts find starting point web pages to launch them into content with appropriate challenges. Also provide tools for engaging in self-directed research and tools such as multimedia presentations, web page design, and electronic portfolios to document learning experiences.
There are many ways in which technology benefits a special education classroom. These students like the rest are drawn to technology and it motivates them to learn with the aid of technology, it allows teachers to work with more students at one time, it equalizes education for special needs students and due to this they are seen as more capable by peers, it helps build confidence and help these children find academic success.
In developing new technology software and hardware companies have not overlooked the special needs and special education students. Almost all operating systems have something for people with special needs. Windows 7 and OS X, offer a number of enhancements that enable users of different impairments to use the system. Braille displays offer the ability to read text that is sent to the machine by activating pins on a multi-cell display. They are available cheaply for reading text line by line while more expensive versions can read text, allow for text input and SMS texting, and help with navigation around the computer. Word Prediction Software can be used to predict the words that are being typed to reduce the number of keystrokes used to input the word. The use of tablets and iPads as technology in special education classrooms is limitless and they can be used as a computer, an imaging device, a camera, a projector, a mouse, a keyboard, and a remote device for white boards. Also, Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android App Market both offer a number of apps designed to assist in the use of technology in special education classrooms.
The devices available to students with disabilities are no longer big clunky things which become difficult to manage in a classroom. Students now have access to assistive capabilities on technologies that are smaller, more mobile, more integrated and inexpensive. Technology in special education classrooms is an industry within an industry and it is constantly developing and improving products for special needs.
Share your experiences of using technology in a special education classroom. What more technology you know that can be of aid in special education classrooms and what are the ways of integrating it into the classroom? Make your comments in the Comment Box.
As of 2010 with the federal legislation of Rosa's Law, the use of the term "mental retardation," "mentally retarded," or "MR" has been replaced with a new terminology: "intellectual disability," "intellectually disabled," or "ID." The same has been edited in the article on 15th Nov 2015.