Assistive Technology: Some estimates claim that as many as one in four students in mainstream schools have special educational needs. With national and international legislation driving inclusivity, questions arise as to whether mainstream teachers can support the number of students with special education needs in their classroom and whether they have the skillset to facilitate these students?
Assistive technology refers to any item, piece of technology, software, modified or customised, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a student with special education needs. Examples range from reading pens and text-to-speech software to screen sharing technologies. These technologies can play a significant role in allowing students with special education needs to be on a level playing field with their peers.
Therefore, teachers have a responsibility to meet the growing demands of their students with special education needs and to ensure an inclusive environment within their classroom. With resources a potential issue, teachers can start with free assistive technology applications which are available online and with accessibility features, which come inbuilt within mainstream devices. Moreover, a teacher’s understanding of how assistive technology interacts with the curriculum can be the difference between inclusion and exclusion for this student cohort.
@tjoshaughnessy Assistive Technology Officer / PhD Student in Education – Ireland