Understanding and meeting the needs of students who have disabilities can be challenging both for parents at home and teachers in the classroom. To ensure that all children receive an education that meets their individual needs, it is important that parents are aware of their rights under the law.

The first step parents may take if they feel that their child is not being given proper instruction or accommodations is to contact the school’s special education administrator to request an evaluation. Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, public schools are required to provide “free appropriate” education to all students who qualify as having a disability. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), public schools must provide a “free appropriate public education” to all students who qualify as having disabilities.

IEPs are required for all students receiving special education services under IDEA, while Section 504 requires accommodations but not necessarily an IEP. Regardless of which law is applicable, parents have the right to request an evaluation to determine if their child qualifies as having or being suspected of having a disability that inhibits his or her access to educational resources.

With resources available through federal laws such as these, children with disabilities can receive equal opportunities in education and be provided necessary adaptations in order to learn effectively.

Hearth Australia

Voice output devices for students with disabilities

Have you ever wondered how you can provide the best communication for students who use assistive technology like voice output devices? These devices give students access to information in a way that is different from students without disabilities. Here are some quick actions and tips that will help you communicate well with any student using an assistive device:

1) Accept the Use of Assistive Devices: Accepting and supporting the use of these technologies communicates respect, inclusion, and acceptance.  Rejecting them might discourage the student from using them again in your class.

2) Allow Time to Adjust: Most students will need time to adjust their devices before they begin working so allow them to do so before class begins.

3) Make Follow-up Adjustments If Necessary:    If the student has not done their own follow-up or needs additional adjustment, offer to help them with that after class is over.  This shows respect for most students who are able to learn how to adjust their own assistive technology.

4) Use Your Best Communication Skills:  Speak clearly and directly to the student using an assistive technology device and give them time to respond.    You might say, “I will wait until you finish” or “take your time.”.

Overall, keep in mind that these tools from Hearth Australia can be a great asset for many students, but it is important that you treat every student with respect and help them use the different tools that are available to them.