Journal Issue: Children and Computer Technology Volume 10 Number 2 Fall/Winter 2000
Today's children are the first generation of the "digital age." They are being raised in a society that is changing rapidly as a result of the influx of new computer-based technologies that provide more pervasive and faster worldwide links to commerce, communication, and culture. The dramatic changes over the past decade have prompted the Presidential Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology,1 the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment,2 and high-level government officials3 to state that it is incumbent upon the public school system to prepare all students to use technology in ways that will allow them to compete in the increasingly complex technological workplace. Many people applaud the integration of computer-based technologies into the classroom for typically functioning students. Fewer individuals recognize the great number of benefits that computer-based technologies may afford children with disabilities.
This article focuses on the role that computer technology can play in promoting the education of children with special needs within the classroom. It begins with an overview of children's different types of disabilities and special needs, and an introductory discussion of how technology can help meet those needs. Several more detailed sections follow, describing how particular computer applications and devices make it possible for students with disabilities to be educated in a regular classroom alongside their nondisabled peers. The final section provides a discussion of the barriers to more widespread use of the promising technologies—barriers that must be overcome if schools are to provide greater opportunities for students with disabilities to learn more effectively in regular classroom settings.