Special Education Technology Specialist
Nature of Work:
Evaluates students with disabilities and to help them become more productive and independent with the use of appropriate technology.
provides telephone and classroom technology support,
trains teaching staff and students in the proper use of assistive technology
recommends software and hardware
suggests specific devices or equipment, and
assists in accommodating the limitations of students with disabilities
Some states require a teaching license to be employed as a technology specialist, but others do not. Generally speaking, job applicants who have strong computer skills combined with experience in special education or teaching, are most likely to be hired in entry level jobs. Several colleges and universities offer undergraduate classes in special education technology. Entrance to a master's degree program generally requires a strong background in teaching, curriculum and instruction, special education, or a related service field. A typical sampling of courses includes strategies for integrating technology into early childhood, elementary, and secondary education; technology for educating students with multiple disabilities or pervasive developmental disorders; computer applications; and transdisciplinary approach to rehabilitation.
Technology specialists are resourceful, persistent, patient, and creative. They are problem-solvers who work well with both children and adults, and can juggle a variety of tasks at the same time. These professionals also have excellent observation and communication skills. They analyze complex information easily and use sound judgment. They combine technical expertise with insight into how to help others become confident users of technology.
Job Outlook and Advancement:
Although there is no national data collection for job outlook specifically for technology specialists, through the year 2005 employment for all special education teachers is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations. In 1993-94, more than 5 million infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities received special education services. As the school population rises, manufacturers of equipment and devices for students with disabilities are expected to offer a greater variety of products at more affordable prices. School systems that do not currently employ technology specialists will have even more incentive as the number of children needing special education services increases. Medical advances (that result in more survivors of accidents and illnesses) and the expected increase in the general population will require all schools to expand their special education services. Technology specialists with master's or doctorate degrees may advance to supervisory positions, sometimes overseeing a large number of schools.
How to Prepare for a Career:
High school students considering this profession should take classes in science, math, and English, as well as courses in business or industrial arts. Excellent computer skills in both software and hardware will be required in all courses of study beyond secondary school. Teenagers can gain valuable experience toward becoming technology specialists when they work with children who are learning how to use computers. They can gain valuable experience working with children with disabilities by volunteering to assist youngsters in the Special Olympics program.
Technology and Media Division
The Council for Exceptional Children
1110 N. Glebe Rd., Suite 300
Arlington, Virginia 22201-5704