With money for education lacking, is spending what little there is on adaptive and assistive technology really necessary? It is, if we believe that all students should have equal access to what is being taught in the classroom. Differentiation goes beyond pulling students over to the kidney shaped table to discuss a problem or question they don’t understand. However, the truth is, some of the technology needed can be pricy. But considering the cost of giving each student, no matter what the handicap, an equal opportunity to learn, how can we as a society not afford it. It is easy to tell someone to throw money at the problem, but what if there is no money to throw? We need to explore options, such as grants and loan programs to make sure that no student is lacking. We need to try and fit in in, or find alternative ways to acquire the more expensive technology.
The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) state that technology is essential in including children with disabilities. Without it these students will continue to struggle and get left behind without given the chance that technology can give. In the report by the CEC, “Embedding Technology in Education for All Learners: CEC’s Recommendations to the National Education Technology Plan”, more and more exceptional students are being placed in normal classrooms. This could be due to growing class size, and/or lack of funding. Either way, it is crucial now more than ever that these exceptional students have the tools they need to be involved in the regular classroom. If not, they will be left behind.
There is no question that technology does work to help students. In the article, “Assistive Technology for Students with Learning Disabilities inWriting:Beliefs, Knowledge, and Use”, students with disabilities were shown to be able to work more independently and use higher order thinking using assistive technology. They are able to participate in a normal classroom, and feel involved. This in turn will help them take ownership in their learning.
Many states are seeing the need for adaptive technology and have programs set up to help schools acquire the technology needed. In Nebraska, for example, they have put into place a program called “Assistive Technology Partnership”. It uses the service AT4ALL.com to help find technology that students can have on loan to use. People can post items they may have and teachers as well as parents can go online to see what technology is available for loan. This program is a wonderful example of how a community can come together and provide educational needs.
Even though technology can be expensive, usually it is a very low percentage that needs overly expensive technology. Since the percentage is so low, the materials could be used over and over again. In this sense, it can be seen as an investment in the schools that will last a while. Even if the number were greater, there are some things that should not have a price tag placed on it. An equal opportunity for learning should be one of those things.
Atp assistive technology solutions. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.atp.ne.gov/services/AT.html
Bigelow, D.L. (2008). Assistive technology for students with learning disabilities in writing: beliefs, knowledge, and use. Informally published manuscript, Department of Education, Miami University, Miami, Florida. Retrieved from http://www.scribd.com/doc/36537205/Assistive-Technology-for-Students-With-Learning-Disabilities-in-Writing-Beliefs-Knowledge-A
Embedding technology in education for all learners. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.cec.sped.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Assistive_Technology&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=13604