Special Hardware and Software for Students With Disabilities|
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires that students eligible for special education under the law receive specially designed instruction: "Specially-designed instruction means adapting, as appropriate to the needs of an eligible child, . . . the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction - (i) to address the unique needs of the child that result from the child's disability; and (ii) to ensure access of the child to the general curriculum, so that he or she can meet the educational standards within the jurisdiction of the public agency that apply to all children" (Special Education Regulation 2001). The survey collected data on whether public schools had students with various disabilities and, if so, whether they had assistive or adaptive hardware and software8 available for these students.
8 For example, special hardware may include closed-captioned TV, screen readers, or keyboard alternatives, while special software may include Jaws for Windows, Zoomtext, or Overlay Maker.
In 2001, 95 percent of public schools reported that they enrolled students with learning disabilities (table 12). Sixty-seven percent had students with physical disabilities, 54 percent had students with hearing disabilities, and 46 percent had students with visual disabilities.
At the national level, depending on the type of disability, 55 to 64 percent of schools that had students with disabilities provided assistive or adaptive hardware, and 39 to 56 percent provided assistive or adaptive software (table 12).
- Special hardware was less likely to be available to students with learning disabilities in schools with the highest minority enrollment than in schools with the lowest minority enrollment (47 percent compared with 61 percent) (table 12).
- The likelihood of having special software available for students with physical disabilities increased with school size: from 40 percent in small schools to 60 percent for large schools (table 12).
- Differences by instructional level also were observed. For example, 48 percent of secondary schools provided special software to students with hearing disabilities, compared with 35 percent of elementary schools (table 12).
- Schools with the highest poverty concentration were less likely to have special hardware and software available for students with visual disabilities than were schools with the lowest poverty concentration (52 percent compared with 71 percent for hardware, and 42 percent compared with 63 percent for software) (table 12).