Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Technology: assisting students with special needs in Edina


 Edina’s Special Services department continues to serve our students with special needs.  One method for helping these students is through the use of technology.  Indeed, for these students, technology may provide opportunities for expanded participation in our school district.  In Edina, the district has an assistive technology person who is dedicated to identifying these opportunities.  Assistive Technology is defined as “promoting greater independence by enabling people to perform tasks that they were formerly unable to accomplish, or had great difficulty accomplishing, by providing enhancements to or changed methods of interacting with the technology needed to accomplish such tasks
Nichole Krier, is the districts Assistive Technology specialist and has been doing some outstanding work.  Specifically in Edina, the following activities have been recently undertaken
In the spring of 2011, the Special Services department increased the number of iPads, produced by Apple, in various programs across the district after being awarded grant funding from the Edina Education Fund.  Over the years, people with disabilities and other special needs have seen an improvement in quality of life due to new technology tools. These fast technology moves continue to open many doors for people with disabilities in education, employment, and social interaction.  As we all know, Apple continues to increase the number of applications (commonly known as "apps") available for individuals with special needs.  The Special Services department has experienced tremendous success in the piloted programs at Cornelia and Creek Valley Elementary.  The students are engaged in the learning activities, as well as being motivated with the innovative tool.

Other tools, including interactive whiteboards, Alphasmarts and various software programs continue to help level the playing field for our students.  Edina’s online applications labeled EdinaApps, primarily made up of Google Apps for education and Moodle strive to provide universal access by reaching people who are blind or low vision and deaf or hard of hearing.  Though both products show great potential, they also have identified assess issues and potential work arounds.  Here is some additional information surrounding access,:
Both organizations are committed to continue to work to improve these tools to provide greater access.

In Edina we will continue to identify and promote technology tools that provide universal access for all students to the world of life long learning

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