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Special Education Column

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The first two reports from a series of studies on the use of new technology in programs for handicapped students suggest that special educators should play a more active role in planning, monitoring, and evaluating computer hardware and software for handicapped students.

The federally sponsored studies, collectively entitled "Microcomputers in the Schools--Implementation in Special Education," cover the selection and management of software and organizational issues relating to the use of microcomputers by handicapped students and school personnel. The studies were conducted by sra Technologies Inc. and the cosmos Corporation.

The conclusions are based on case studies of 12 school districts selected because of their use of microcomputers in special education.

The researchers contend that the special-education administrators they observed "were not directly involved in the management of the microcomputer systems" because of other demands on their time, and that the impetus for applying instructional functions to the computers came from special-education teachers instead of from program administrators.

Because of the generally high level of collaboration between teachers of handicapped students and those who teach nonhandicapped students, the researchers found that "many special-education staff were adopting, with very few modifications, procedures and software designed for regular education use." In only a few instances, the researchers added, did educators use the technology "in ways that were uniquely suitable" to handicapped students.

"Consequently," the researchers said, "we suggest that special-education administration should take a more active role in planning and implementing the microcomputer applications, especially where special and regular education share the same equipment."

Copies of the reports are available for $3 each from Laura S. Clark, sra Technologies, 901 South Highland St., Arlington, Va. 22204.

The University of Wisconsin is involved in a federally funded project designed to increase job-training opportunities for handicapped students under the Job Training Partnership Act by identifying exemplary programs throughout the country.

For more information, contact Lloyd Tindall, Vocational Studies Center, 964 Educational Sciences Bldg., 1025 West Johnson St., Madison, Wis. 53706.

The National Committee, Arts for the Handicapped recently awarded a $12,800 grant to the Tennessee Arts Program for Disabled Persons that will be used to increase opportunities for handicapped students in 10 county and city school systems in the state.

The grant will be used to support the Very Special Arts Festival Program, which integrates the arts into the general school curriculum of disabled students.--sgf

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