I am a special ed consultant for a tiny school board with few dollars. Our special needs students get short shrift. I do have a small budget for technical materials for students who have a code (severe handicap). Most of those students cannot use the technology. I purchase the material to them but hope that all students who can, will benefit. My biggest concern is the learning disabled student who can graduate and move on to University WITH SUPPORT. The schools have no opinion about which materials they might need despite brochures etc., so I have added Dragon Naturally Speaking, Kurzweil and Word Q/Speak Q to several schools’ computers, but with no technicians to teach their use, the technology falls flat. I can see the value of using the technology that is “out there”. Would you kindly send a brief list of these technologies? We are in a rural poor area and not all students have access to the popular “toys”.
Kudos, for recognizing the importance of technology for students with disabilities and for making a concerted effort to integrate technology into your school! Rural and under-resourced schools can be successful in technology integration, but it does require a comprehensive approach that includes professional development and technical support. As you know, this type of support can be expensive, however, there are many ways to reduce these costs. One suggestion is to enlist school staff, or perhaps even student leaders, to take on the role of resident technical experts for individual products. You may be able to develop a train-the-trainer model with the product developer providing the initial training. In addition to a low-cost solution for professional development and technical assistance, the student as teacher/mentor model can be a valuable experience for your students, particularly those who are college bound. Given what you have already done with your limited resources, I’ve no doubt you can think of additional creative ways to leverage the resources you have. Also explore the Guide to Low-Cost / No-Cost Online Tools for People with Disabilities. Given the economic circumstances of your district, you may find this to be a very valuable resource.