From the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER)
Developing Innovative Technologies to Improve Outcomes for Students with Disabilities
Portable technologies have great potential for impacting the lives of students with disabilities. The technologies can be highly engaging, convenient, and easy to use, and they can be transported to a variety of settings both in and out of school. Here are three IES-funded research projects that are developing interventions that incorporate portable technologies.
- Despite efforts to prepare students for the transition to life after high school (e.g., independent living, employment, leisure, community involvement) students with intellectual disabilities and autism often have difficulty acquiring and maintaining the life skills necessary for successful post-school transitions and active participation in society. How can schools better prepare students for the challenges of post-school life? Kevin Ayres at the University of Georgia is using handheld electronic devices, such as iPhones, to help deliver life skills tutorials for students with intellectual disabilities and autism. Technology has the potential to help improve students' skills in these areas by providing live video models using the skills students need so students "see" the skills in action, and it provides schools with tutorials to improve students' understanding and use of these essential skills. This 3-year project started in 2010 and is funded with a $1,195,856 grant from IES. Learn more about the project at http://ies.ed.gov/funding/grantsearch/details.asp?ID=974.
- Decades of research on social skills training programs have shown that these programs improve students' knowledge of social skills, but rarely results in students actually using those skills in social situations. Behavioral coaches who effectively model, prompt, and give feedback to students is ideal for generalization of skills, but what student wants an adult standing right there with them in social situations? New technologies have the potential to help. Earle Knowlton at the University of Kansas is delivering a social skills coaching intervention to students via wireless and video conferencing technologies. The technologies will function much like a "bug in the student's ear." Students will be observed from remote sites and coached on social behaviors. This "tele-coach" intervention allows the coaching to occur unobtrusively, with the goal of improving students' generalization of their newly learned social skills into the natural environment. This 3-year project started in 2009 and is funded with a $1,078,881 grant from IES. Learn more about the project at http://ies.ed.gov/funding/grantsearch/details.asp?ID=791.
- Almost 95 percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents who may not know sign language, or who have low levels of proficiency in sign language. Although the majority of hearing parents do eventually decide to use sign language with their deaf child, they typically struggle to learn a second language in a visual modality. How can we help hearing parents learn sign language to facilitate communication with their deaf child? Thad Starner at the Georgia Tech Research Corporation is developing a program that will promote the use of sign language with parents of students who are deaf or hard of hearing. The program will deliver video of American Sign Language lessons on mobile phones. It will also enable parents' quick on-the-spot access to signs that they might need to communicate with their children. This 3-year project started in 2010 and is funded with a $1.5 million grant from IES. Learn more about the project at http://ies.ed.gov/funding/grantsearch/details.asp?ID=976.
To search for NCSER grants that incorporate technology, see http://ies.ed.gov/funding/grantsearch/index.asp.