History of the Treatment of Special Education in Public Schools
The Educate America Act was passed in 1994 and was a step toward equality of education between children with and without disabilities. According to Olson and Platt (2000), the Educate America Act “represents a national framework for education reform to improve our system, policies, standards, and most importantly, outcomes for all students.” This legislation outlined goals that were very broad and simplistic, but also inspiring to many people. This act did not specifically address the issue of the education of children with special needs, but addressed goals of the education system and all students.
Because students with special needs need just what their label states, a special education class aims to provide more assistance and attention. To aid in doing this, many assistive technologies have been developed. An assistive technology, according to The Assistive Technology Act of 1998 is “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.” The stepping stone to the Assistive Technology Act was the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This act was passed in the 1970s, but amendments were added in 1997. The act supports equal opportunity for special needs people and the amendments to it support the integration of special education students with students who have little or no disabilities. With this inclusion and integration policy, more and more special needs students are using assistive technology so that they can accelerate just as much as the rest of the class.
As a result of the amendments to the IDEA, students with special needs are now entitled to an individualized education program (IEP). An IEP is the outcome of a meeting of the student’s parents and educators and of the abilities the student has. The student’s abilities are evaluated based on how well he does on the assessments given (Olson & Platt, 2000). John Woodward and Larry Cuban (2001) say that when assessing a special needs student, we need to also assess their eligibility to use assistive technology. If the child will benefit from the technology, then schools need to provide that technology to the student so that he can do his best.
Who would benefit from using assistive technology? What types of special needs do these individuals have? How have we used assistive technology in the past and how will we use it in the future? What are the different views on incorporating assistive technology into the classroom? Right now, you are probably wondering all these things. In the following sections of this paper, I will attempt to address these questions as thoroughly as possible.
Different technologies are designed for different needs. Almost any individual with a disability could be assisted by a technology. There are technologies for...