Technology and Individuals with Disabilities

Posted on 06 Oct 2008 in Educational Technology, Special Education | 2 comments

I’m a big fan of the National Center for Technology Innovation (NCTI) website. This is a project sponsored by OSEP and the federal government. It’s purpose is to advance

learning opportunities for individuals with disabilities by fostering technology innovation (and) seek to broaden and enrich the field by providing resources and promoting partnerships for the development of tools and applications by developers, manufacturers, producers, publishers and researchers.

They have a conference coming up on November 20 & 21 in Washington, DC that is sure to be great.
What I like about this organization is the volume of information they have about leveraging technology to improve the capacity of children and adults with disabilities.

Here is my view:

Once upon a time people with memory deficits used to have a disability because they couldn’t remember enough information to function in society such as friends phone numbers or when Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue (very key on that 7th grade history test). However, now that everyone carries a cell phone, remembering phone numbers is almost unnecessary (tell me how many numbers in your phone you know by heart). What’s more, trivial knowledge, the sort that is very important in school, is now only a Google click away. Thanks to ubiquitous devices such at the iPhone or PDA’s, trivia (and important info too) is at your finger tips.

My point:

What was once a deficit, is now irrelevant thanks to technology. Just think how many times you have used spell check today. In the past, poor spelling was also a deficit. Today, technology almost eliminates it as a problem.

The NCTI website is a valuable tool for educators because it illuminates new technologies that can greatly impact the field of special education.

Case in point:

I’ve given PDA’s to third grade students to help them self-monitor their behavior. An upcoming article in Education and Treatment of Children (November 2008) illustrates the research. Two additional studies with older students are forth coming.

Technology can help our students – we must expand their access.


  1. Joyce / October 9th, 2008 18:01

    I am anxious to read about the research on tecnology use in special education. I am currently on my school’s technology committee and we need to determine the future use of technology in our facility. I work at a residential treatment center for teens with emotional and behavioral disorders. We are anxious to implement new technology, however we have many concerns about cost, durability and effectiveness. The research will be helpful.

  2. mrchuckchuck / October 10th, 2008 8:38

    Good for you Joyce. Glad to see that your center is looking to technology as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for your teens. In addition to the NCTI site, I also recommend two other resources.

    1. The Council for Exceptional Children’s (CEC) division of Technology and Media (TAM) “The purpose of TAM is to support educational participation and improved results for individuals with disabilities and diverse learning needs through the selection, acquisition, and use of technology”.

    2. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has a special interest group dedicated to special education and technology ISTE holds and annual conference that attracts over 15000 educators in late June.