Special education: Technology can allow inclusion, advances – Smartbrief

by | Apr 22, 2022 | Education

(Image credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images)Assistive technology can offer new opportunities to the approximately 13% of American public school students with special needs, such as speech-language issues and autism. From virtual learning to tools such as adaptive reading assistants and text-to-speech apps, technology often can help special-education students participate in general education classrooms instead of being separated.
Students and educators use various tech tools to reduce anxiety, ease communication, enhance connections with peers, improve academic performance and allow more independence.
When virtual learning took root during the pandemic, families of special-education students found that having video-chat meetings with teachers about students’ Individualized Education Plans was much easier in terms of work schedules and interruptions. Research analyst Lanya McKittrick told EdSurge that video chats, texting and other technology have helped parents of special-education students feel more empowered and connected.
At the same time as news about a shortage of special-education teachers is prominent, educators dedicated to students with special needs are getting more recognition. This month, special-education teacher, blogger and podcaster Kyle Anderson of the Clark County School District in Nevada was named one of EdTech’s 30 K–12 IT Influencers to Follow in 2022.
Schools get creative to assist special-ed students
Creativity is nothing new in special education, and several schools are exemplars.
Students in San Andreas High School’s Growing Hope program in San Bernardino, Calif., use smartphones, tablets, video editing software and sensors to monitor and manage a high-tech greenhouse. “These skills are transferable,” educator Barbara Pastuschek says. “When students are learning to maintain high-end, expensive equipment, that’s transferable to other industries like technology, nutrition, healthcare and hospitality. It’s not just limited to being a farmer or working with hydroponic systems.”
Nearby Joshua Circle Elementary School has been using a special communication tool with one student who can’t talk and uses a wheelchair. This new technology allows the 12-year-old to speak with his eyes.
Touchscreens introduced in a Georgia school district help students with disabilities respond easier and faster, giving them more time with occupational therapists and speech pathologists and improving outcomes.
A New Hampshire school has been using virtual reality headsets to help students who have trouble regulating emotions, physiology and senses, as well as students with limited mobility. Instructors have found that pre-teaching stude …

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