Meeting the needs of special needs kids via video technology

Thursday, December 9 2010

For special needs students at A.J. West Elementary School in Aberdeen, Washington, there were very few staff members able to accommodate their varying levels of cognitive abilities. In the most severe cases, there was not a single person in the area - located 100 miles from Seattle - who could help treat the children, reports the Journal.

But the technology coordinator at the school suggested a video conference with professionals who had experience dealing with special needs students. With expert help, teachers could collaborate on individualized education plans to best suit each student.

"We were just grasping at what to do," A.J. West principal Bill O'Connell said at the Northwest Educational Technology Consortium. "And when we sat down as a group to try and develop an IEP, we were just pooling our ignorance, and so this was a chance and we jumped at it. As the principal, after the conference was over, I felt very relieved. I felt, 'Okay, I have a plan, and I know that it has been validated by professionals.'"

According to the NETC, there are many beneficial uses for video conferencing in a school setting. The technology works well for demonstrations, discussions and debates, experiments and investigations, skits and plays, role-plays and presentations.