Educational Electronics and the Use of Calculators in Special Education

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Accessing Student Curriculum

In special education, there are many things to consider when it comes to effectively accessing the student curriculum. Teachers of special education must always consider program variances, and the I.D.E.A. program (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004) provides many guidelines with which to individualize the academic and physical needs of a child. One area of consideration is the use of educational electronics.

Mathematics and Special Education

Mastering math skills can provide a unique challenge for those with special learning needs. In an effort to address this, many teachers have found that instructing special education students in the use of calculators can benefit them in solving simple math equations. While teaching math with the use of a calculator may seem simple on the surface, it can also present other obstacles to learning for a student with disabilities. For example, in the case of a child with a visual impairment, a specialized calculator with a large display screen/large buttons may be required.

Before using Calculators

Prior to teaching the effective use of the calculator, equipment with visual and physical adaptations must be selected. Once the type of calculator has been determined, the groundwork for success can be laid with instruction and reinforcement as needed. Teachers must be diligent in the instructional use of such equipment, and often daily, repetitious instructions are required. This, however, is what will provide the key elements in teaching and reinforcing the skills needed to use the educational electronics. The ultimate goal, of course, is to assist in optimizing a students’ abilities, and ultimately contributing to the promotion of their independence.

A Note About the IDEA Program

It is important to integrate the recommendations set forth by the IDEA program when establishing academic goals. Both parents and educators must be vigilant in pursuing and implementing new ways to enhance the learning needs of special education students. The use of educational electronics - such as calculators - can be pivotal to many successful interactions in daily life. In turn, math proficiency can contribute toward a life of independence for an individual with special needs. Overall, the use of this kind of equipment, and the technological advances being made in our world, holds great promise for enrichment in the academic setting.