From the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER)
NCSER Focuses on Families
IES also funds research under its other programs that contribute to knowledge, development, and evaluation of strategies to help families of children with disabilities support their child's educational success. For example, Thad Starner and his colleagues at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) are developing and conducting an initial evaluation of SMARTSign, an intervention designed to help hearing parents of deaf children learn sign language through the video delivery of signing on mobile phones. The intervention is intended to promote sign language learning among parents and improve students' use of sign language.
SMARTSign will present parents with short sign lessons on their mobile phones, spaced throughout the day to best encourage learning. It will also allow parents to ask for the appropriate sign or phrase in spoken English (e.g., "time to go to bed") when communicating with their deaf child. A video of the appropriate sign appears on the parent's mobile phone, and the parent can then repeat the phrase to the child.
This 3-year project started in 2010 and is funded with a $1.5 million grant from IES.
A parent using SMARTSign to help her son with math word problems.
NCSER is encouraging research on families of children with disabilities. In addition to current research projects with family components funded under NCSER's other research programs, there are three new funding opportunities with a specific focus on families.
- Families of Children with Disabilities is a new grant program under the Request for Applications for the Special Education Research Grant Programs (1.1 MB PDF). Through this program, NCSER seeks to support research on effective strategies (e.g., tools, programs, services, interventions) for improving family involvement in the education of their child with a disability and family support of their child with a disability in ways that improve educational or transitional outcomes for students with disabilities from kindergarten through grade 12.
- There are two new topic areas with a focus on families under the Request for Applications for Special Education Research and Development Centers (549 KB PDF)—the Special Education Research and Development Center on Interventions for Families of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and the Special Education Research and Development Center on Interventions for Families of Students with Emotional Behavior Disorders (EBD). These center grants require the development of innovative interventions, or modifications of existing interventions, for families of students with ASD or EBD respectively, as well as rigorous efficacy testing of the developed intervention.