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How can technology assist the transition of students with special needs into adulthood?

Updated on September 27, 2013

Technology to help students with special needs

There are many types of disabilities and they all have their own prevalence rate, symptoms and effects. What all disabilities have in common is the challenge it poses to all individuals affected. The challenges are physical, emotional, physiological, and social as well. These hardships all don't happen at one place or time; they are taking place in schools, homes, work, hospitals and other settings. One can argue many things about individuals with specials needs; what they can't dispute is the many challenges these individuals encounter on daily bases.

One stage of life that is very challenging for individuals with special needs is the transition to adulthood. While being in elementary and high school these individuals are supported in many ways. They have teachers supporting them as well as other services that are available to them. These individuals are given many supports so when the time approaches close to adulthood many of them are unaware as to how to function on their own. With enough help early on we need to teach these individuals how to live independently and function on their own. If not, they may be total disarray after high school or may even show signs of learned helplessness because of all the services they were previously receiving. Teachers and family members can do a number of things to make the transition to adulthood easier.

There are many great technological devices in the market that can help make the transition easier. As adulthood approaches many special need individuals may want to go to college. College may be a challenge for individuals with physical handicaps because of the difficulty of moving around. These individual can opt to take online courses in the leisure of their home.

Ten years ago this idea was almost unheard of; it is now an option for everyone including special needs individuals. The ipad has some great apps and devices that can help as well. For example there is a pointer that can be purchased that can give a person the opportunity to use touch screen devices. Some individuals are not able to use their fingers to point and this technology can work for them in order to use the devices that are now available. There are also big projection screens for individuals with vision loss; this can assist them in using various devices as well. Moving around is difficult for individuals who may not have the ability to use their limbs, there is technology that can assist them in moving around independently. A special device can be attached to them that can move their limbs and allow them to move around freely. For those with hearing impairments, cochlear implants are available to assist them. There are many other technologies that can assist in the transition to adulthood. I am all for technology, as long as the individual needs it to be independent. Technology is here to help make our lives easier but too many times people are overly dependent on it. In the case of an emergency in where there is no power to charge these special devices, what will happen? It would be nice for individuals with special needs to not need technology in their transition to adulthood but in many cases technology will determine their success in becoming independent individuals as adults.

Other Technological devices in the market

Below are some Technological devices that can help individuals with disabilities.

The DynaVox EyeMax System

The DynaVox EyeMax System

The DynaVox EyeMax System is a speech-generating device that helps individuals lacking fine motor skills, to overcome speech and learning challenges. A user can control this device simply through the eyes. Eye movements such as blinking and periodic gazing are tracked by an in-built camera, in order to select specific vocabulary.

iBot Stair-Climbing Wheelchair

iBot Stair-Climbing Wheelchair

The iBot Stair Climbing Wheelchair is a powered wheelchair that enables users to comfortably climb stairs with no assistance. This is made possible by an in-built sensor and gyroscope mechanism to maintain balance of the sitting part. It can also carry out various other maneuvers including: going up ramps using tethered remote controlled operations and rising from sitting to "standing" configuration that gives the user a height of approximately 6 feet.

Cochlear Implant

Source

Cochlear Implant

A Cochlear Implant (CI) gives persons with profound deafness or severe hardness of hearing, a sense of sound. This electronic device is implanted within the ear, having both internal and external parts, to electrically stimulate the auditory nerve within the inner ear (cochlea). It works by by-passing injured minute hair cells (these would normally transmit sound stimulus to the auditory nerve) in the cochlea.

Video Demonstrating the use Technology to overcome Disabilities

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