America’s schools are required to meet all federal laws and regulations for special education including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which requires that students are included in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Each student who is identified with a disability that affects them academically has either an Individual Education Plan or a Section 504 Plan which is created by a collaborative team (e.g., the parents, child, regular and special education teachers, therapists, and the school psychologist). They determine the goals, objectives, and accommodations that need to be made in the classroom setting. IDEA requires that assistive technology, which includes products, tools, and devices that can make a particular function easier or possible to perform, needs to be considered for every student who has an individualized education program (IEP) (Blackhurst, 2005). Teachers of students with disabilities are utilizing techniques such as universal design to make adaptations to the regular education curriculum to help them garner access and understanding (Hitchcock, Meyer, Rose, & Jackson, 2002; Rose & Meyer, 2000). Also teachers in inclusive environments are using differentiated instruction which takes into account every student’s interests, ability levels, and learning profiles regardless of disability (Dodge, 2006; Drapeau, 2004; Tomlinson, 2001). Often technology plays a vital role as special education teachers seek to individualize teaching methods to meet the needs of their students.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Individualized with Education Plans (IEP): A written plan for a student who has an exceptionality that clarifies the student’s goals, objectives, and accommodations.
Assistive Technology: Items, equipment, product, or device that is utilized to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.
Disability: A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits or restricts the condition, manner, or duration under which an average person in the population can perform one or more major life activities.
Differentiated Instruction: A flexible approach to instruction that is based on the student’s ability, interests, and learning profiles. This technique affects the student’s content, process, and product.
Cyber Schools: Self-paced curriculum and instruction that is delivered via the Internet.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): The IDEA was originally enacted by Congress in 1975 to make sure that children with disabilities had the opportunity to receive a free appropriate public education, just like other children. The law has been revised many times over the years.
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): According to the IDEA, students with disabilities must be included with students without disabilities as often as is appropriate unless the nature or severity of their exceptionality cannot be addressed in this setting.