Assistive Technology for Special Needs Students by: Rachel Stroman
An Overview of Special Needs The term 'special educational needs‘(SEN) has a legal definition, referring to children who have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn or access education than most children of the same age. Many children will have SEN of some kind at some time during their education. Help will usually be provided in their ordinary, mainstream early education setting or school, sometimes with the help of outside specialists. Schoolwork, reading, writing, number work, understanding information, expressing themselves, or understanding what others are saying making may affect them in school due to their disabilities. i
According to the IDEA… An impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance but is not included under the definition of “deafness.” Other Health Impairment means having limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette’ssyndrome; and adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
According to the IDEA cont… Mild Intellectual Disability means significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently [at the same time] with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
What it means… You may have noticed that the phrase “adversely affects educational performance” appears in most of the disability definitions. This does not mean, however, that a child has to be failing in school to receive special education and related services. According to IDEA, states must make a free appropriate public education available to “any individual child with a disability who needs special education and related services, even if the child has not failed or been retained in a course or grade, and is advancing from grade to grade.”
What is an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)? An IEP is designed to meet the unique educational needs of one child, who may have a disability, as defined by federal regulations. The IEP, according to this argument, helps children reach educational goals more easily than they otherwise would. In all cases the IEP must be tailored to the individual student's needs as identified by the IEP evaluation process, and must especially help teachers and related service providers understand the student's disability and how the disability affects the learning process. The IEP should describe how the student learns, how the student best demonstrates that learning and what teachers and service providers will do to help the student learn more effectively. Key considerations in developing an IEP include assessing students in all areas related to the known disabilities, simultaneously considering ability to access the general curriculum, considering how the disability affects the student’s learning, developing goals and objectives that correspond to the needs of the student, and ultimately choosing a placement in the least restrictive environment possible for the student.
What is Assistive Technology? Assistive technology (AT) is technology used by individuals with disabilities in order to perform functions that might otherwise be difficult or impossible. Assistive technology 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. For example, people with limited hand function may use a keyboard with large keys or a special mouse to operate a computer, people who are blind may use software that reads text on the screen in a computer-generated voice, people with low vision may use software that enlarges screen content, people who are deaf may use a TTY (text telephone), or people with speech impairments may use a device that speaks out loud as they enter text via a keyboard.
No-Tech Solutions for students with ADHD, MID, and Hearing Impairments Note taking Emailing daily lessons to the student/parents Preferential Seating Look and Listen strategies Check the Comprehension Pre-tutoring Visual Aids
AT for the Hearing Impaired and MID Hearing assistive technology systems (HATS) are devices that can help you function better in your day-to-day communication situations. HATS can be used with or without hearing aids or cochlear implants to make hearing easier and thereby reduce stress and fatigue. The use of smart boards, projectors, close caption television lessons, and communication devices are also useful in assisting hearing impaired students and MID students with lessons.
Additional Resources http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/treatment/assist_tech.htm The website describes difficult situations for individuals with hearing difficulties and Assistive Technologies to accommodate them.
Additional Resources http://www.visualaidsforlearning.com/school-pack-learning.htm The website provides No Tech pictures to aid all students, special needs students in particular, in seeing and understanding the daily class routine so as to be able to better stay on task and focused for work. It also aims to aid students in knowing and understanding what behavior is expected of them and to allow greater communication where speech is often delayed or impaired.
Additional Resources http://www.teachervision.fen.com/add-and-adhd/resource/5348.html Teacher Vision is a website that provides Not Tech and Low Tech strategies, lesson plans, articles, and grade level themes to assist in teaching students with ADHD.