I have witnessed the positive impact technologies have on students with disabilities for more than two decades. During that time, I used technology as a tool to engage and motivate students, developed educational video games to teach secondary STEM content, and examined differences between student performance during game-based assessments compared to traditional paper and pencil tests. Our research teams consistently found that students with disabilities benefited from technology more than their peers without disabilities. Despite this research’s finding, I continue to see K-12 special education and general education teachers who view technology as a secondary consideration, to be made after teacher-centered high-leverage practices have been implemented.
This approach is flawed. Edyburn (2006) referred to technology as a cognitive prosthesis for students with disabilities. He correctly argued technology has the capability to enhance student performance by compensating for differences, as opposed to remediating deficient skills. Evidence suggests technology can have positive impacts across multiple domains including executive functions (e.g., planning, task initiation, set-shifting), content-specific performance, and social skill development. Given this finding, why would we tell students to put away technologies that we know are beneficial to learning when they enter a classroom? Doesn’t it make more sense to teach them how to use the technology to enhance their performance?
I view my participation in CIDDL as an opportunity to share technology-enhanced research and practice with a community that believes and supports the inclusion of individuals with disabilities. Our goal is to develop professional learning networks that lead to enhanced policies and practices throughout society. Assistive technologies from 20 years ago (e.g., speech-to-text) are now ubiquitous across devices we carry in our pockets on a daily basis. I believe it is time we teach people with disabilities to use these devices as an integral component of their educational experience. I look forward to sharing with you! Below are links to a few of my previous collaborative technology-enhanced research efforts.
Matt Marino, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator, CIDDL
Professor, The University of Central Florida
- Supporting Content Learning through Technology for K-12 Students with Disabilities
- Opportunity in Crisis:The Role of Universal Design for Learning in Educational Redesign
- Establishing Content Validity of the Quality Indicators for Classrooms Serving Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders Instrument
- UDL in the Middle School Science Classroom: Can Video Games and Alternative Text Heighten Engagement and Learning for Students With Learning Disabilities