Technology and the Special Needs Learner

Technology has become a very important part of the learning process for the special needs learner. It has been found that technology helps put the learning process for these special needs learners on the same level as it is for those learners who do not have a special need. Technology can be defined as the development and application of tools, machines, materials and processes that help to solve human problems (Wikipedia). It is also knowledge of using tools and machines to do tasks efficiently. The computer is becoming one of the largest forms of technology in use today. Technology in relations to the special needs learner can be broken into two types: assistive technology and adaptive technology, although most generally they will both be referred to as assistive technology. Dan Comden defines adaptive technology as “any device that makes a task not normally accessible by a person with a disability, possible” (11). An example of an adaptive technology would be hardware or software that lets someone with a special need use a computer when they would not be able to do so if they did not have access to this hardware or software. Assistive technology for learners with a special need is defined by federal law as “any item, piece of equipment, or product system whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities” (Assistive Technology Act of 1998). “Assistive technology can include eating utensils, adapted toys, computers, seating systems, powered mobility equipment, augmentative communication devices, and switches” (Brown 113). Assistive technology can bridge the gap and help many students with special needs enjoy the same learning environment as students without special needs. There are many different types of assistive technology devices that are available depending on the type of learning disability or sp…

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