In 2009 I was able to go to Seattle and attend the CEC’s annual Special Education convention and expo. One the many pamphlets and papers I came home with was called The Power of Social Media to Promote Assistive and Learning Technologies, by the National Center for Technology Innovation (published January 2008).
They made a point to examine the differences in access to technology between people with and people without disabilities. Bulleted points were:
- only 44 percent with disabilities had a computer at home, compared with 72 percent of those without disabilities
- only 38 percent of those with disabilities had access to the internet at home, compared with 64 percent of those without disabilities
- only 24.3 percent of those with disabilities use the internet at home, compared with 50.5 percent of those without disabilities.
Even without these outdated statistics, it is obvious there is a gap between the access to technology for students with disabilities and those without. As much as I’d like to change this, these factors are outside of my circle of influence. Instead, I put my energy towards my classroom, which is inside my circle of influence.
When I first got into my classroom there was 1 old computer in the room and some books on tape (not that there’s anything wrong with them…just really, really, really outdated). I was lucky to have a principal who was enthusiastic about getting technology into the hands of students. Before I knew it, I had 3 newer computers, a document camera, and projector in my room! Last year I received an iPod touch through DonorsChoose.org, which I used to create a listening station and replace those books on tape (which I gave to another teacher who is now using them everyday).
My hope is that my LRC is a technology-rich environment, where my students are exposed to the tools of the future as they work towards overcoming their challenges.