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Steven A. Greenburg, Education Law
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Digital technology and special needs students

Digital technology has come to play a major role in many key areas in our society. This includes education. Things such as computer and device use at schools, educational websites and online homework portals are making up a bigger and bigger part of the educational experience at U.S. schools. Digital technology in the classroom and online educational resources can provide many unique educational opportunities for students. However, they also raise challenges. Among these challenges are challenges with ensuring special needs students are able to access school-related digital technology and the opportunities it provides.

One would hope all schools would be addressing such challenges. Unfortunately, schools sometimes lag in getting special needs students proper access to school-related digital technology offerings. Examples of digital technology access difficulties special needs students could encounter when it comes to school include:

  • School websites having design elements making them particularly difficult for students with disabilities to use.
  • School websites not being compatible with adaptive devices/programs a special needs student uses to help access online information.
  • Schools delaying in giving special needs students access to programs/systems they need in order to be able to use school-related digital technology (whether these delays be in providing the systems/programs or installing them).

One of the things that might be contributing to the uneven overall response by U.S. schools to these issues is the current lack clear federal regulatory guidance for schools when it comes to the issue of digital technology and special needs students. Now, depending on what Congress does in upcoming months, increased regulatory clarity in this area may be coming in the future.

Also, the Department of Education has recently engaged in a series of federal probes of schools in relation to special needs student digital technology access issues.

So, one wonders if federal efforts might soon lead to any significant changes in how U.S. schools, generally, act when it comes to these key education issues for special needs students.

This discussion illustrates how important and complex matters related to digital technology in schools can be for today’s special needs students. So, digital technology issues are among the things parents of special needs students may want to keep in mind when working with their child’s school on things like their child’s IEP. When it comes to IEP issues, skilled education lawyers can provide parents with guidance on steps they can take for promoting their child’s educational interests.

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