Accommodating Special Needs with Online Education Technology

A young student with special needs sitting in wheelchair and using a tablet

I had an interesting phone call from a Learning Coach (a parent who support’s their child in their education at Connections Academy) recently. The parent asked if he could modify a journal-writing prompt. His student was struggling to write from the perspective of a disabled person because he didn't know anyone with a disability. Could he write about a person coping with a broken leg instead? 

After giving my approval, I hung up the phone and smiled. You see, that dad and his student know me, and I have a disability. I have a hearing impairment and wear two hearing aids to correct it. These tiny but powerful digital electronic devices tuck behind my ears and feed sound into my middle ear. Having hearing loss is an important part of how I face the world: how I work, how I use a phone, and how I listen to and interact with others.  

I've never kept my hearing loss a secret from employers, my coworkers, or my students. Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act(opens in a new tab) (ADA), which has been passed into law now for over 30 years, businesses and public venues are required to provide "reasonable accommodation" for people who have disabilities. For example, my hearing aids are my own responsibility, but I can ask for hearing-aid-compatible headsets and phone attachments. 

I am fortunate that "reasonable accommodation" is all I need to keep doing what I love: teaching online. Before the ADA was in effect, a person with a disability had no legal rights to request assistive devices or to fight discrimination related to a disability. Now these rights are the norm. Some children can easily learn in a traditional classroom and some can’t. There are many reasons why ranging from physical to mental limitations that can’t fully be accommodated in an actual classroom.  

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Legislation has also benefitted children who have special needs. In 2004, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act(opens in a new tab) (IDEA Part B) was passed to provide federal funding and ensure services for children ages 3–21 who have disabilities. Through IDEA, states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services to more than 6.5 million children, allowing for the needed accommodations for students with disabilities. 

How does online school for special needs’ students work?

Today, the parents of children who have disabilities have many choices in education, including virtual schools like Connections Academy who have been around for over 20 years. Free online school for special needs’ students can be a great equalizer for students who have special needs. For example: 

  • Students who have a chronic illness might complete schoolwork and work ahead when healthy so as not to fall behind when needing treatment 
  • Students on the autism spectrum might do better academically when social issues are separated from coursework. Homeschooling an autistic child might be right for your family. 
  • Students who have trouble staying focused may benefit from watching a recorded lesson more than once to absorb all of the facts 
  • Students with frequent medical treatments and appointments can bring schoolwork along, as many hospitals offer Wi-Fi 

With ADA and IDEA in place, today’s young adults have grown up side by side with their disabled peers, thanks to the necessary accommodations for students with disabilities. This has helped many students look beyond the wheelchair, the white cane, or the hearing aids to see friends, classmates, and teammates instead of disabilities. As for me, if my students don’t remember that I’m hearing impaired, I’ll take that as a compliment! It means my disability doesn’t interfere with the way I teach. 

Learn more about Connections Academy special education.

More parents are choosing online school for their special needs’ students. They’re seeing the many ways it benefits their children specifically and gives them the flexibility that they need to learn in their own ways.  

These are just a few of the ways that free online school is for your special need’s student. Check out some of our sample online school schedules to see how a flexible Connections Academy special education could work for your family.  

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