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There are a lot of challenges in virtual learning that don’t come in a general education classroom that Commonly. So, The biggest problem was just engagement and getting students their devices and checking in on all students simultaneously. As there are multiple days where I didn’t have any students engage. So, sometimes it is not easy to reach some of the students and despite attempts to call their guardians on daily basis. Thus, as for doing the work- most of the students didn’t have computers and clearly completed assignments on their mobiles. Additionally, the standards and grading system were also significantly laxer than they are in the fall and where we transitioned from a pass or fail grading system to our usual grading system as well. Also, a more accountable grading system has made virtual learning smoother and more rigorous for the students since school started in September for the students have logged on and participated. Moreover, a vast improvement over the lack of engagement is very encouraging in going forward too.

Basically, when the school starts, It's actually time for calling every student, reading their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), so as to get as much of a relentless jump start on learning as needed. So, in a regular setting, special education comes with significant challenges in implementing accommodations and modifications as well. Also,  in a virtual setting, the challenge is even more difficult. So, it relies on significantly more help from parents and caregivers, so the majority of my parents and guardians work as essential workers and can’t stay at home solely. Moreover, learning the home environment for a special educator is as essential as ever before and the teachers are needed to learn what it’s like at home and how often a parent or guardian can help. Also, Internet access is available, and also what electronic devices are available as well.  Thus, flexibility is key and work packets can be completed for special needs students without access to technology as such.

Besides, Virtual learning is especially for special needs kids who exacerbate educational disparity. So, a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, found that disabled Americans express lower levels of comfort with technologies. Also, disabled adults are less likely to have confidence in navigating the Internet with different communications devices on the go.  Basically, the survey found that 23% of disabled adults say they never go online, compared to 8% of non-disabled adults respectively.

Therefore, for special education kids, there is simply no way some accommodations can be implemented virtually only and also there is no -reduce distractions to self because a teacher has no control over a student’s home environment altogether. Though, for a special educator, the trial and error method works. It is found that a variety of remote learning resources and strategies can help students with different disabilities and whether they are a teacher or a caregiver altogether. So, Educating All Learners Alliance that runs, basically includes a directory specific guidance for how to deliver lessons online efficiently. So, the resource includes resources for not only caregivers and students but also school psychologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and school nurses as well as speech therapists also.

Firstly, if someone has a computer with Internet access then the Read &Write toolbar for Google Chrome is important. As students work independently without much help from the teacher, the Read&Write toolbar is an extension that is easily downloadable and used frequently. Moreover, the toolbar includes a dictionary, word predictor, and highlight reader as well as a screenshot reader. So, it is essential to teach the students to use the Read&Write tool, so if students had any trouble pronouncing a word or seeing what it meant for basically. So, the toolbar also includes a screen mask to focus on a specific part of the text, a translator and highlighters as well as the text to speech tool that allows students to talk along with typing. So, the text to speech tool is my absolute favorite since it allows students who prefer vocalizing overwriting to play to their strengths efficiently.  Moreover,  kids talk into their computers and then have the computer type for them is like magic works. Whereas,  another tool called Announcify is a text to speech tool which reads an article from a webpage directly. So, to make a webpage easier to read and use the Mercury Reader, which removes ads and comments as well as other distractions to make a site readable efficiently. The Open Dyslexic Chrome extension gives a webpage the Open Dyslexic font, which makes the text more readable and easy. The Dyslexia Friendly is an extension that does the same as well.

Many of these resources are Chrome extensions, neglect the students who only have phones for virtual learning altogether. So, Fortunately, iPhones and other smartphones already have many built-in accessibility features as well. It includes Voice-over, which allows students with visual disabilities to have content displayed on the touchscreen and can also support refreshable braille displays and also a built-in dictionary, Dictation, and Assistive Touch, as well as Speak Selection, provides a text-to-speech resource with highlighting also. Besides, there are also apps available through iOS that can support communication as well. For instance-Proloquo2Go supports nonverbal students by allowing them to tap symbols to speak and select buttons with an adaptive switch and verbally is a text to speech app with the ability to save and organize spoken phrases efficiently. So, Dragon Dictation is a speech-to-text tool that can help students efficiently. So, the problem is that some apps are very expensive and the tools might not be the most financially accessible as well. Students with intellectual disabilities, emotional disabilities, autism, and ADHD. So, try to focus on what strategies and resources have worked and what hasn’t. Thus, every child is different based on their IEP, so take the advice and strategies with what works best for the child and work accordingly. So, According to the Autism Focused Intervention Resources and Modules- a resource for caregivers of kids with autism, the students with autism often need extra support adapting to changes. So, there are seven support strategies listed that include offering students opportunities for expression and prioritizing coping and calming skills as well.  Additionally, maintaining routines and then building new routines is essential. Autistic students often thrive more on one-on-one attention more, than students with different disabilities. The Zoom breakout rooms have been a great tool for educators to differentiate instruction to students with different disabilities.

Therefore, it is important to overplay the theme that it’s an unprecedented and very difficult time, especially for parents of special needs children and special educators. As, There are many frustrations and setbacks, but in the world of virtual learning for special needs kids and it is a marathon and it is not a sprint, for pacing oneself is of the utmost importance and essential.                                                                                                  Reference--

Malja Hayat 3 years ago
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