In the educational world of schools, universities, and libraries tight budgets seem to be the norm. Although education is so extremely important, the funds just don’t seem to be enough. One educational institution may ask, “how can we justify spending a lot of money to buy assistive technologies that might only be used by a small number of students?”. This a great question, in which I would like to offer three reasons as to why the money will not only be justly spent but wisely invested in assistive technologies.
1. It’s illegal to not spend the proper funds for providing for special education needs.
“In the U.S., the major law in this area is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), first passed in 1975. This federal law authorizes special education to all students with disabilities ages 5 through 18, and to students with disabilities, ages 19-21, if enrolled in a special education program prior to the 19th birthday and if not yet graduated from a prescribed course of study. IDEA entitles students with disabilities to an education which meets their individual needs in the least restrictive environment and at no cost to the student or parents. (Need and the concept of “least restrictive” must be determined on a case-by-case basis.) Special education can include more than academics: it also may include independent living skills and vocational training” (Infinitec, 2014)
2. The number of people requiring Assistive/Adaptive Technology is rising. In listing some of the challenges with special education Roblyer and Doering explain there is an, “increase in the number of children with autism” (Roblyer & Doering, 2013 p. 414). With the increasing number of special needs students, the investment will go further because it will be used on more individuals rather than a few.
3. Using Assistive/Adaptive Technology is effective and fulfills many teaching needs. This technology is useful for special needs as well as average students. The many avenues that may be used to teach special needs students can also be used to teach average students. The almost limitless amount of tools makes the investment more worthwhile too. It’s like purchasing a swiss army knife for education because of the powerful teaching strategies that may be used. In an article published on Edutopia by Yuri Wellington a technology coordinator for Hana High and elementary schools, showcases success stories of assistive technology for three individual students. She concludes, “We know that many students love computers and that, in many cases, technology motivates them to learn. We know that computers and adaptive technology allow students to perform the same or similar work as their peers but at their own pace and in a setting where the information is presented in a manner best suited to their individual learning styles and needs. From our experiences at Hana, we also know this: that the benefits Eli, Taba, Camille, and other students with special needs have derived from the technology make all the effort worth it!” (Wellington, 1998)
A great way to sum up the need for Assistive Technology is in the words by Matthew Lynch Ed. D, “Assistive technology is important for providing a sound education for K-12 students with disabilities but benefits the greater good of the country too” (Lynch, 2013). When an education institution is going over the dwindling budget, the best future investment is in Assistive/Adaptive Technology because it is worth it!
Infinitec – Learn – Finding the Money. (n.d.). Infinitec – Learn – Finding the Money. Retrieved April 29, 2014, from http://www.infinitec.org/learn/money/schoolfunding.htm
Lynch, M. Ed. D (2013, October 15). Assistive Technology: A Necessity for Student Success. The Huffington Post. Retrieved April 29, 2014, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matthew-lynch-edd/assistive-technology-a-ne_b_4099477.html
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2013). Integrating education technology into teaching. (6th ed., p 122). Pearson.
Wellington, Y. (1998, May 1). Assistive Technology Success Stories: Opening the World of Education to All Students. Edutopia. Retrieved April 29, 2014, from http://www.edutopia.org/assistive-technology-success-stories