Visit any special education classroom in the United States and one thing is abundantly clear: Special education has come a long way in the past decade. You’ll likely see children interacting with technology, using specialized tools for learning, and most importantly, enjoying the experience with teachers and aides.
With the evolution of edTech in training and education applications, children with special needs are some of the most prolific beneficiaries of the latest and greatest gadgets. And while special education is getting a huge helping hand from the tech industry, some of the concepts used to make learning more accessible for individuals with special needs can be applied to make training and development more accessible, too.
The world of adaptive and accessibility tech is probably a lot larger than you think. Entire websites dedicated to tools which allow children with special needs – be they physical or mental – the opportunity to enjoy many of the same experiences of their peers. From tools that allow more comfortable interaction with technology, such as oversized switches and joysticks, to accessories which make devices easier to see and hear, special education classrooms can take advantage of available programs, games, and devices.
Consider a child with autism, for example: With communication delays, he’s not always able to express himself in class. Armed with a communication augmentation devices that offers pictures as well as words loaded onto a tablet, the child can correctly decide context and choose the right words to improve communication. Suddenly, what was once a massive road block in special education becomes nothing but a tiny bump on the way to further development.
While much of the technology available for special education focuses on improving delays and specific mental development issues, Bluetooth-enabled technology is helping to make education easier for children with physical disabilities. Computer accessories which connect wirelessly to devices can make children feel more comfortable using technology, such as an oversized track ball mouse or webcams that track facial and head movements for individuals without the capability for hand movements.
Sites like TechMatrix help match special needs with the right assistive technology to ensure that all children get the chance to learn, play, and grow at school.
Adaptability at Work
Innovation in the special education sphere is downright inspiring: Tech companies seeing a need and coming up with a way to fulfill that need so no child’s disability remains a stumbling block. While learners in a corporate setting may not need the type of assisted tech available to special education, there’s something to be said for inclusivity in eLearning design. In corporate training and education spheres, ensuring that learning is adaptable to each personal learner will net better results every time.
When learners feel like individuals, whether it’s the ability to access a module via mobile phone or using Bluetooth devices to navigate programs, retention improves significantly. Take a page and a hefty dose of inspiration from the children and teachers who know a thing or two about adaptive technology and you might just find what your modules have been missing.