It has been over a half-century since the law bill that would forever change education in the US was signed into law by President Gerald Ford. Known to many today as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), this law is groundbreaking in the sense that it guaranteed that every child with a disability in the US had the right to access a free, appropriate, public education (Edgerton et al., 2020). The impact that this law made was not realized in the US alone but in the whole world. People recognized that disability is not an inability and that education is for everyone who possesses the urge and the will to learn. The acknowledgment also gave way for accumulated research, experience, and advocacy that continued to shape ways by which educators and stakeholders in the sector ensure students of all abilities claim their educational right (Luft et al., 2019). Based on these developments in relation to the case study, the paper focuses on assessing how education environments have been made suitable for students with any form of disability.
As one of the vital components of the educational environment, classroom setups have always changed to help support the inclusion of disabled children. Inasmuch as that is the case, there are still other aspects of the classroom that can be improved to cater to every need of a disabled student. For instance, the classrooms should be made accessible for these students to move between desks (Drew, 2019). Having a separate desk placed at the door may be easy and convenient, but it physically separates these disabled students from their peers and access to learning materials. This is no different from giving a student a dictated and separated space in the room that sends a message to students that they are an inconvenience to others. By making classrooms accessible, disabled students can easily move with their wheelchair within the classroom to access learning materials and participate in all workstations and group-work activities (Loman et al., 2018). The spaces for travel should always be clear of any obstacle to ensure these students minimize distance traveled. Thus, by putting these aspects into consideration, a regular classroom environment can adequately support the inclusion of children with disabilities.
Regarding speech and language deficiency, unnecessary noise should be reduced during learning hours. The classroom needs to be large enough to accommodate anchor charts and allow much light inside to make it possible for the students to look at them (Baines et al., 2018). Learning materials should also be stationed at heights and locations that are accessible, thereby making these students feel as they are also humans and can do exceptionally in anything they put their minds on. These measures, as such, help the classroom to be conducive to students with speech and language deficiency.
Strategies and Resources
In addition to making classrooms conducive, the teachers can employ some other resources and strategies to make the learning environment conducive for the students with disabilities. These strategies play a significant role in ensuring that these students get the best out of education, just as other kids in the classroom. One of the easily accessed resources in today’s world is the use of assistive technology. According to Malcolm and Roll (2017), assistive technology has been an effective means of helping students with disabilities learn more effectively. Ranging in sophistication from low technologies such as a graphic organizer worksheet to high-end technologies such as smartphones, other cutting-edge software, and applications, assistive technology advances to make learning easier for these students. The assistive technology provides an environment where the students can communicate better, thereby enabling the teacher to find a better way of assisting them (Drew, 2019). For instance, in this case, assistive technology can help address the family’s need to want their child to socialize and enjoy while at it. Therefore, technology is an effective resource other than toys that teachers can use to better understand students’ needs.
To ensure that the resources employed to make learning possible and understand the needs of the disabled students better, teachers always need to have strategies. They are vital because they help remind the teacher that learning disabilities are not a sign of mental retardation, nor are they emotional disturbance. These strategies include always engaging the students in dispelling the myth and the misunderstanding that people have about them (Mercer & Dörnyei, 2020). The teacher should always remind them that disability does not mean that they are not intelligent or not humans. This strategy, as such, helps the student build confidence and be motivated to keep pushing in this world filled with many uncertainties.
Encouraging each student to talk about themselves, their interests and strengthens and giving them the chance to ask questions makes the teacher understand these students’ needs and make them a reality. The needs of the family can also be achieved through this strategy. For instance, a family may be worried that their son is not social and not knowing the reason for this problem, but through this strategy, the cause can be known (Drew, 2019). Establishing principles, making a positive classroom community, highlighting famous people who are disabled, and instantly addressing challenges are the other helpful techniques. These strategies can thus be critical in motivating and encouraging disabled students to be willing to share their needs.
Guiding Child’s Learning and Behavior
With regard to guiding a child’s learning and behavior, there are three key areas that are usually looked at. Adaptation, accommodations, and modifications are these three areas that teachers need to focus on when dealing with disabled students. These areas are helpful because they help teachers better understand the needs of a child and family. These three aspects always should be individualized to the students according to their interests, needs, and personal learning styles (Bingham et al., 2018). It makes it easier for the students to access the general curriculum and other learning materials and thus demonstrate what they have learned through engaging in activities. As a need to accommodate everyone in the classroom, teachers ought to always practice positive classroom management techniques (Mercer & Dörnyei, 2020). These techniques include providing students with clear guidelines that help them take responsibility for themselves and their actions. Thus, steps help foster a sense of ownership to their actions, thereby help increase independence.
The use of non-verbal signs will help the student adapt faster to speech and language. Complimented with visual aids and supply of regular feedback, these non-verbal signs may help the teachers develop an efficient and effective way communication with these students, especially those with difficulties in speech-language disorder (Drew, 2019). Thus, the child may learn ways of engaging with others and make friends, which is vital for their social growth.
According to the case study, Peter loves trucks, switch toys, wiggle music, and anything that goes ‘BOOM,’ technologically advanced device that helps him have fun while learning is best suited for him. The Draft: Builder, which is a writing tool that integrates note-taking, outlining, and draft writing functions, thereby breaking down the writing process into three steps, will be helpful. Through a graphical organizer, the program helps the student visualize what they want and feed the information into the appropriate place without conceptualizing the whole process (Mercer & Dörnyei, 2020). The process of creating the paper is automatic, and thus, this makes it possible for the child to drag and drop what is written on each note to the rough draft. This tool will, as such, help Peter broaden his thinking capability.
In addition to improving his thinking capability, this writing tool also has a game that will help him build his vocabulary. Thus, if Peter is bored with one aspect of the writing tool, he can try another option. The game involves driving a car of any type, whether a truck or a sport utility vehicle (SUV), whose speed is dependent on how fast one can read or key in words appearing on the car’s dashboard. The faster one is in reading or typing what he sees, the fast the vehicle can move (Mercer & Dörnyei, 2020). The writing tool has the option of uploading lyrics of one’s favorite song. Therefore, Peter has a place where he can listen to his wiggle music and at the same time learn. I know this aspect of the writing tool will be much intriguing to the child who, as suggested by the case study, loves driving truck toys. I even presume that he will always be using trucks when playing, and ultimately, all these will help in his learning and growth.
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