Assistive Technologies | News

Federal Funding Targets Technology for Students with Disabilities

A new $1.4 million federal grant will fund the establishment of a Center on Technology and Disability.

The goal of the award is to help children with disabilities, their families, and their schools to access and use assistive technology to improve learning outcomes.

The grant, administered by the United States Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, was funded through the Technology and Media Services for Individuals with Disabilities program, authorized under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. It was awarded to Family Health International, which will operate the center along with American Institutes for Research and PACER Center.

"Enhancing the infrastructure and increasing the capacity for our schools and providers to help all students become college and career-ready is an important part of our education agenda," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in a prepared statement. "This center will provide information and technical assistance to many audiences, including providers and families, to help them implement effective programs aimed at serving children with disabilities."

In related news, ED has also awarded $14 million in funding for eight "special education parent technical assistance centers" — which essentially provide information to the families of children with disabilities, such as legal issues.

The five-year grants were awarded to the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network to operate a Center for Parent Information and Resources ($2.95 million); one to Parents of Indian Children with Special Needs to operate a Native American Parent Technical Assistance Center ($1.6 million); and six organizations to operate Regional Parent Technical Assistance Centers (about $1.6 million each) — including Statewide Parent Advocacy Network; Exceptional Children's Assistance Center; Parent to Parent of Georgia; Wisconsin Family Assistance Center for Education, Training, and Support; PEAK Parent Center; and Matrix, A Parent Network and Resource Center.

According to ED: "The centers will use the funding to improve the information they provide parents on laws, policies, and evidence-based education practices affecting children with disabilities. The centers will also use the funding to explore how data can be used to inform instruction; how to interpret results from evaluations and assessments; and ways to effectively engage in school reform activities, including how to interpret and use the data that informs those activities."

Additional details about the awards and the regions the centers will serve can be found on ed.gov.

About the Author

David Nagel is the executive producer for 1105 Media's online K-12 and higher education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. He can now be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/THEJournalDave (K-12) or http://twitter.com/CampusTechDave (higher education). You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192.

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