Current technology available to help students with specific learning disabilities (SLD) and physical disabilities is limited, difficult to use and often very expensive. Through IDEA's federal special-education law, regardless of disabilities, all students must have free, appropriate and equal opportunity to learn and succeed in the general education curriculum. Yet, according to the Chaffee Amendment, only students with physical handicaps will currently be covered by NIMAS and given free access to digitized instructional materials. Other students, whether they struggle with learning disabilities or other handicapping conditions, will only have access to NIMAS based programs for a fee. This is a dilemma, as it is harmful and discriminatory to withhold support that can advance SLD student's progress. It is also contradictory with the objective of IDEA.
With NIMAS's improved technology and teachers facilitating and encouraging student engagement during learning, it will be possible for many more students to achieve success in the classroom. Students with learning disabilities share many similar accessibility needs to those with physical disabilities, and are equally deserving of the benefits of NIMAS designed programs.
The argument for the inclusion of SLD students in NIMAS activities is strong, as it will help students with SLD to thrive as independent learners and will help to create stronger classroom learning environments. Many students with SLD struggle with reading comprehension, processing speed, memory, vocabulary, and reading text materials. In the classroom, when certain students are excelling and others are struggling, it is difficult to help every student. If all students with diagnosed disabilities are given the chance to use NIMAS approved programs, teachers will have a greater ability to help and enrich the lives of each of their students. NIMAS programs should be used to their full advantage by any and all students with disabilities, thus allowing a greater number of students to fulfill their potential.
|Listen to NCLD’s October 14, 2010 webinar, “Access to Instructional Materials for Students with Learning Disabilities (LD): Getting it Done” (length: 90 minutes). Presenters: Chuck Hitchcock, Chief Officer of Policy & Technology for the Center for Applied Special Technology and Joanne Karger, J.D., Ed.D., an attorney at the Center for Law and Education (CLE).|