Investment vs. Return: Outcomes of Special Education Technology Research in Literacy for Students with Mild Disabilities

Aug. 28, 2009

Source: Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(3). (2009).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article presents a review of the research on technology integration in the area of literacy for individuals with mild disabilities. It describes relevant legislation, including how special education technology is impacted by the No Child Left Behind Act (2001). Included studies focus on research in the core content areas of reading and written language most likely to impact inclusive classrooms.

Review of the Literature

In the area of reading, research has investigated such technologies as using multimedia to improve reading, using voice recognition to improve reading skills, and using text-to-speech synthesis to compensate for reading deficits.

Studies have demonstrated the advantage in using technology to scaffold learning for students with disabilities in the area of reading. Multimedia projects, voice recognition, text-to-speech synthesis, and SMART board technology provide effective scaffolds for students with disabilities to increase their reading skills. Assistive technology devices have also been shown to produce positive results with students with reading problems.

Written Expression
Written language research in special education technology has studied the use of word processors, text-to-speech synthesis, word prediction, and spelling and grammar checkers.

Studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of technology with writing instruction for students with mild disabilities. Graphic organizers have helped students with disabilities to better organize their writing. Word prediction programs have been shown to bypass spelling and writing difficulties effectively for students with mild disabilities. Finally, word processors and word processors with additional writing strategies have helped students with disabilities generate written products more effectively and with improved levels of quality.

Summary of Research

Technology has been shown to have mixed results as a tool for students with mild disabilities, but in general, has demonstrated a benefit for these students.
In reading, the addition of technology enhances the learning environment and results in largely significant improvements.
In written expression, results of tools such as speech synthesis and word prediction have been demonstrated to often have a positive impact on students with disabilities.
In summary, integrating technology into instruction for students with mild disabilities seems to provide an academic gain for them.

Implications for Teachers

Studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of integrating technology into the instruction of students with mild disabilities to reinforce reading skills.

Furthermore, technology use has been shown to be beneficial when used as a tool for scaffolding the writing skills of students with mild disabilities.

Updated: Jun. 13, 2010