Advantages and Disadvantages of Technology in Special Education

When we think of special education, the first thing that comes to mind is special education teachers. We equate it a different set of educators. But aside from these professionals, there is also another angle in this kind of education. That is technology.

Educators in the special education area use technology in teaching. Students use computers and programs designed to help facilitate their learning. They also use specialised hardware equipment not only to aid their reading and exercising their learning but also to be able to support their body when doing so and to mobilise themselves. But not all that assistive technology give are advantages. There are also disadvantages.

Advantage: Leveling the Field

Special children and students with special needs or disabilities have a disadvantage in life. Their special needs may be mental or physical. Some even have both. They need to cope, first, in life outside the school, then outside the classroom and then inside. The field is not level. That is why assistive technology is given to them. This kind of technology and the rest of the support in this field of education helps special students to cope with the difficulties, give them confidence and enable them to learn as much as others can.

Disadvantage: “Unfair Advantage” (Label)

While assistive technology is afforded to learners with disabilities or special needs so that they can learn as well as those others who do not have such disadvantage, some people view this as an unfair advantage. They think that too much help is given to these students. Some even believe that these help or some of them provide access to additional benefits that should not be made available.

Some examples some people give are access to websites and software applications that students should not be given. They are able to access these because of the originally intended internet access and programs. However, this issue is addressed by original design, prevention, detection, correction and development. Each assistive technology is design to address specific needs and leak towards other uses or access are cut right from the start. Detection, correction and development come after.

Many still believe that this “unfair advantage” is not true. It may only be a perception or a misconception. The “unfair advantage” is a disadvantage not because it really is but because it wrongly labeled assistive technology.

Advantage: More Skills

With the software, computer equipment, physical amenities and others provided in assistive technology in special education, learners with special needs and disabilities are able to learn not only the basic skills all students should have and those that they need as special students but also some more. They learn applications and programs needed in their studies which they will need in their future careers like word processors, spreadsheets, slide shows, videos and many more. They do so by learning these with and through specialised applications and programs that aid them in learning.

Disadvantage: Missing Out

Much of assistive technology are accessed through computers and internet. And because they are intended to help students with special needs and disabilities, their design is fitted to the abilities of these learners. As such, they are accessed individually. The experience of learning through them is mostly private. In other words, they are done mostly online and at home. Just like many other activities in the internet and some of their aspects, there is less actual socialisation.

Many students with special needs and disabilities miss out on mingling with other people starting from people in the outside real world, ordinary students and other students with special needs and disabilities. With this, they are short of opportunities to develop their communication, social, interpersonal working relationship and people skills. Still however, this concern is already addressed. Special education programs and curriculum have social activities where students can develop their communication and other social skills mentioned.

About Author: Daphne Coleman