Using Technology Within Special Needs Schools/ Students with Special Needs

Within a classroom the academic ability of pupils vary quite significantly therefore the teacher must adapt their teaching skills in order for every pupil to learn. The material of the class may be very difficult for some pupils and for others they may be able to do it in their sleep. The teacher must take this into consideration and adapt the material and classroom setup in order for each and every pupil to benefit and learn. However, when a pupil requires additional help they may be allocated to a one-to-one teaching assistant. This is true for the majority of pupils who have special needs within a regular classroom. If the pupil is in a regular classroom it demonstrates that they are able to learn and are able to attend school and be involved with other pupils who may not have special needs, they may just need additional support in which a one-to-one teaching assistant could provide. However, they may not be able to grasp the classroom material as well as the other pupils therefore what can be done to promote their education?

Schools are now providing pupils with special needs with technology to attempt to assist their learning. Such technologies can range from complex speech recognition systems and educational software to having just a simple spellchecker (Maor, Currie, & Drewry, 2011). One research article found that computer technology has been able to assist students with sever disabilities to overcome several limitations that obstruct their participation within the classroom – from hearing and speech impairments to blindness and sever physical disabilities (Hasselbring, 2000). Another study (Khek, Lim, & Zhong, 2006) has gone as far as to say that through the use of assistive learning technologies pupils with special needs can perform their everyday learning tasks on par with their peers.

A more recent study analysed the use of an Apple iOS mobile device in special education classes (Campigotto, McEwen, & Epp, 2013). They used an application called ‘My Voice’ that allowed the students to input words and link words to pictures using a touch-based interaction. The results found that the pupils were highly supportive of using mobile devices to enhance their classroom experiences which therefore resulted in the pupils being more motivated and seeing the mobile device as appealing. Another finding that they discovered was that by successfully integrating technologies (software and/or devices) into classrooms the needs of students that perform at different levels are met. This is an important finding and is a successful outcome from using technologies with pupils who have special needs. Another significant finding was made by Neely et al. (2013). They discovered that the two students with autism spectrum disorder, who participated in the study, demonstrated lower levels of challenging behaviour and higher levels of academic engagement when academic instructions were given with an iPad in comparison to academic instruction through traditional materials. These findings suggest that escape-maintained behaviour may reduce for some children with autism when academic instructions are delivered through the use of an iPad. This finding along with the others mentioned in this blog can only further promote technologies to be used with pupils who have special needs. Maor, Currie, and Drewry (2011) discovered that assistive technology consistently improved spelling, reading, and writing after analysing just 15 research articles.



Campigotto, R., McEwen, R., & Epp, C. D. (2013). Especially social: Exploring the use of an iOS application in special needs classrooms. Computers and Education, 60(1), 74-86. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2012.08.002

Hasselbring, T. S. (2000). Use of computer technology to help students with special needs. The Future of Children, 10(2), 102-122. doi:10.2307/1602691

Khek, C., Lim, J., & Zhong, Y. (2006). Facilitating students with special needs in mainstream schools: An exploratory study of assistive learning technologies (ALT). International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies, 1(3), 56-74. doi:10.4018/jwltt.2006070104

Maor, D., Currie, J., & Drewry, R. (2011). The effectiveness of assistive technologies for children with special needs: A review of research-based studies. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 26(3), 283-298. doi:10.1080/08856257.2011.593821

Neely, L., Rispoli, M., Camargo, S., Davis, H., & Boles, M. (2013). The effect of instructional use of an iPad on challenging behavior and academic engagement for two students with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 7(4), 509-516. doi:10.1016/j.rasd.2012.12.004



About psp2cb

Masters psychology student in Bangor University.

6 responses to “Using Technology Within Special Needs Schools/ Students with Special Needs”

  1. muteb9905 says :

    This is an interesting post that tackles the utilization of modern technologies to address the educational needs of students with special needs. I do agree that some students with special needs require small adjustments within the classroom to be able to enhance the learning process just as any other student. However, this adjustment and adaptation differs from one student to another depending on the student’s needs. For instance the needs of a blind or visually impaired student differ from the needs of a deaf student. The term technology does not necessarily imply the utilization of mobile apps or computers and the relevant software; it can be much simpler than that. Zimmerman and Zebehazy (2011: 254) highlight some assistive technologies used in teaching visually impaired students that include “screen reading software, scan and read software, screen enlargement software” in addition to “Braille note taking devices, video magnifiers, and digital talking book players that support Daisy format.” Additionally, Malburg (2011) suggests helping students with visual impairments in their learning process through certain aids such as writing in big letters with dark colors, tape recording the lessons for them to revise later, encouraging them to use page magnifiers, and utilizing technology for their language learning process including screen readers, low-vision projectors, and screen enlargers.

    It is worth noting that not all teachers are adequately trained to effectively operate and use such technologies in classrooms (Hasselbring and Glaser 2000). Therefore, employing such technologies should be accompanied with training the teachers on how to operate them so that they serve their purpose in freeing students with special needs from their disabilities.


    Hasselbring, T. S. and Glaser, C. H. W. (2000). Use of Computer Technology to Help Students with Special Needs. Children and Computer Technology, Volume 10 (2): 102 – 122.

    Malburg S. (2011) Looking through their eyes: teaching suggestions for visually impaired students. [online] available at [accessed on 23 November 2013].

    Zimmerman G. J. and Zebehazy K. T. (2011). Blindness and Low Vision. In: Kauffman J. M. and Hallahan D. P., eds., Handbook of Special Education. London: Routledge

  2. franquinn says :

    Technology is clearly valuable to the learning of individuals with disabilities. One aspect of technology is a virtual learning environment. First off, what are virtual environments? According to Cromby, Standen & Brown (1), they are 3-dimensional environments that have been generated by a computer in order to react to users’ activity in real time. Cromby, Standen & Brown therefore investigated the potentials that virtual environments have on the learning and teaching of students with learning disabilities. They suggest that desktop virtual environments, for example the use of touch-screen devices and other ‘normal’ computer devices (e.g. mouse, keyboard), are more beneficial to the learning of those with disabilities as interaction can take place with peers and tutors. Cromby, Standen & Brown suggest many reasons why virtual environments are beneficial to special education (many relating to developmental psychology theories), including; the encouragement of involvement amongst learners, aiding control amongst learners (this is important as individuals with learning disabilities tend to have a lack of control within their lives, therefore virtual environments can aid individuals with lots of opportunities for activities, which they would otherwise not be involved with) and, most importantly, individuals with learning disabilities can learn through virtual environments because they will not experience the consequences of their errors, for example they would not experience the real consequences within activities such as play, the development of metacognitive abilities, as well as the development of self-identity.


  3. emmapsuee7 says :

    Virtual environment have been found to be extremely beneficial when it comes to educating those with intellectual disabilities. They are a proven method of teaching skills that are not only useful within the classroom but can also be transferred to the real life situation (Standen, Brown and Cromby, 2001). There are many studies to support the success of assistive technology, unfortunately there are a number of barriers that are preventing the effective incorporation of assistive technology into our education system, resulting in those suffering from learning disabilities not being able to take full advantage of the assistive technology, such as lack of appropriate staff training and support, poor assessment and planning, inadequate or lack of funding, time restrictions and difficulties securing and dealing with equipment (Copley and Ziviani, 2004). More attention and resources should be given towards the use of technology to educate those with learning disabilities so they are able to have the same opportunities as their class peers.


    Standen, P. J., Brown, D. J., & Cromby, J. J. (2001). The effective use of virtual environments in the education and rehabilitation of students with intellectual disabilities. British Journal of Educational Technology, 32(3), 289-299.

    Copley, J., & Ziviani, J. (2004). Barriers to the use of assistive technology for children with multiple disabilities. Occupational Therapy International, 11(4), 229-243.

  4. amalald says :

    Assistive technology
    Perfectly said; can i add that Technology can be the great equalizer in a classroom with diverse learners. Whereas teachers can find it difficult to differentiate instruction for 30+ students in one class, all with different needs and abilities, “assistive technology” (devices and software to assist students with disabilities) can often help teachers personalize lessons and skills enhancement to each child. Children with learning disabilities often have better technology skills than their teachers and are drawn to computers and other gadgets, so using them in the classroom make perfect sense. For children with physical disabilities, technology can give access to learning opportunities previously closed to them. E-readers help students turn book pages without applying dexterity, and voice adaptive software can help students answer questions without needing to write. Computers are engaging and more advanced than the typical modified lesson allows. The widely-used teacher education textbook Educating Exceptional Children has a special section in each chapter focused on assistive technology explaining how it is used with exceptionalities ranging from giftedness to autism.
    Assistive technology is not always just for students with disabilities; it can be used to help any student with motivation, academic skills, and social development. Here are some helpful resources for teachers looking for assistive technology for their students
    Specific Legislative Framework: The Education Act (Decree-Law No. 46/86, 14th October), assumes special education as a specific type of education that facilitates the socio-educational recuperation and integration of individuals with special educational needs caused by physical or mental disability.


    • Abery, B. (1998-99) Research to Practice: facilitating the self-determination in youth and young adults with deaf-blindness. Deaf-Blind Perspective, 6 (2), 7-8.
    • Adams, C. (2001) Clinical, diagnostic and intervention studies of children with semantic-pragmatic language disorder. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 36 (3), 289-305.

  5. psue68 says :

    Hi there, I found your blog entry very interesting, and you updated us the latest news that Apple IOS system has effect on the learning of disabled individuals. Here I would like to add on and demonstrate the emerging trend of technology use in special education. Liu, Wu and Chen (2013) conducted a meta-analysis of 26 studies in relation to learning technology (LT) with the field of special education, and indicated the different implementations of LT, since different aims and methodologies can result in various research outcomes. According their investigation, previous studies generally examined the effectiveness of using LT in special education learners, the impact of LT in designing educational activities, and the affective responses of special education learners after the use of LT. Besides, the past researchers have implemented approaches such as the comparison between traditional instruction and technology instruction, and qualitative or quantitative research method on the affective response. A question for further investigation regarding this issue is that is there any specific hypotheses that are not yet been tested?

    Liu, G., Wu, N., & Chen, Y. (2013). Identifying emerging trends for implementing learning technology in special education: A state-of-the-art review of selected articles published in 2008-2012. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 34, 3618-3628.

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