Five Top Technology Trends In Special Education
Researchers and ed-tech companies, backed by changing state policies, technological advances, and continual encouragement from advocates, are creating new strategies and tools to better serve learners with special needs.
Experts state that there is a growing recognition underlying various new trends that creating learning resources from the start with students with special learning needs in mind can actually benefit all learners.
Some promising technologies, like virtual reality, are still in the experimental stage and might stay there for a little while longer. However, there is still a lot to be hopeful about. We’re going to show you five trends in technology that help special needs K-12 students.
While there are a number of innovative technologies that help users with poor eyesight to read the information on their screens, and ones that ‘speak’ the content on the screen for users who aren’t able to see at all, it’s frustrating to have to reset these preferences each time you start fresh on a computer or application.
This doesn’t have to be the case anymore. Your profiles can now follow you when you log on to different devices so that your settings are ready right away. Google is leading this innovation, thanks to its massive contribution to K-12 with web-based Chromebooks and G-Suite productivity tools.
For the last 18 years, learners across the country have had their foundational reading abilities assessed with a tool called mCLASS, which was created by Amplify, an ed-tech company. However, Amplify recently modified this software in response to new legislation in many states.
Now, mCLASS can screen for dyslexia. However, it isn’t just Amplify that is doing this, and it is not just for dyslexia, and not just for schools. Babynoggin, a startup company, is targeting pediatricians with a mobile app suite that can screen kids for motor skill-development delays.
Lining up in the cafeteria or navigating through a busy hallway can be a nightmare for students with autism, but some professionals believe that practice in a VR environment can help. VR for students with disabilities includes settings that encourage mindfulness and let users with motor function problems interact with objects in ways that wouldn’t be possible physically.
Accessible Computer Science for All
Bootstrap is a research project with its headquarters at Brown University. They develop curricular modules for computer science that are meant to be used in schools’ existing physics and math classes.
One of their goals is to make their user interfaces more accessible, especially for students that can’t use a computer mouse. Another is to add a screen reader that can read the content of different programs.
Opening Up OER
There can be many benefits when schools embrace open educational resources, but it also poses a problem – PDFs. This common file used for text and graphic documents does not work well with screen readers.
However, there are new tools in development to combat these problems – tools that would make it easier for OER developers to put their content out in formats that are more adaptable.
Now that technology is becoming an integral part of the classroom, we need to start paying more attention to the needs of special-ed learners than ever before. Technology should benefit all, not just the able.