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Distance Learning for Special Education: 4 Accommodations for Distanced Students

Distance learning for special education is challenging for parents and caretakers all over the world. Unfortunately, distance learning was popularized out of necessity, causing a lot frustration and poor curriculum planning. But there are elements of distance learning that can be beneficial for all students regardless of their needs if planned for properly.

Students who receive special education or any form of individualized learning plans should be included as much as possible. This short article aims to tackle a few of the biggest issues at home during distance learning and provide parents and caretakers 4 accommodation suggestions to help prevent regression and ensure success.

Keep reading to learn these 4 accommodations and how to implement them or see ViewSonic’s education solution to learn about other solutions that can benefit your student’s education.

Distance learning for special education is one of the more challenging areas when using distance learning. Because these students have personalized and unique needs beyond the general curriculum, those students who choose to learn outside of the classroom are at a higher risk of regression.

One area of concern that may impact regression is what roles and responsibilities do parents and caretakers have when it comes to making sure accommodations are made and satisfied. Parents and caretakers must take on a larger role when implementing distance learning, however, these roles should not be ones that need to be done by trained professionals and educators.

Knowing your limitations as a parent or caretaker and setting clear accommodation goals is key for ensuring that your student does not regress and instead is learning successfully.

What is Distance Learning?

Distance learning is any form of remote education where the student is not physically present for the lesson, a process that is often optimized with a variety of different technologies. Distance learning is different from traditional learning in that it often allows for enhanced freedom and personalization for students. In other words, it is taking teacher-centered activities and transforming them into student-centered opportunities.

There are several ways a teacher can implement distance learning, such as video conferencing, fixed times, open-scheduled, or synchronous and asynchronous learning. Classroom or learning space design also can be varied during distance learning.

Why Distance Learning is Difficult for Special Education

Distance learning has a lot of benefits and can make teaching easier in certain situations. However, distance learning can be an extreme challenge for students who are receiving some form of specialized education. More specially, if these students are receiving individualized education plans (IEPs), they are more likely to fall behind in their learning without careful preparation.

Whereas struggles can differ between situations, many parents have woes about distance learning from the home learning space. Special education is a different form of education therefore it requires different training and ideologies to make sure students progress. Many parents find themselves with students who are experiencing regression due to compromises and the fact that parents and caretakers are not always trained special education teachers.

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4 Accommodations for Distanced Students with Special Needs

When creating accommodations, it is important to get expert opinion from doctors, therapists, and trained teachers. However, if you are following their suggestion, either as a parent or a caretaker, and still find yourself struggling, these 4 accommodations ideas may be beneficial to you and your student.

Modified Video-Assisted Learning

Video-assisted learning is a great option for many different students. However, when working with students with certain needs, it may be beneficial to modify the purpose of video-assisted learning to fit their IEPs or personalized needs. Using video-assisted learning to create and maintain emotional bonds for example, is a great way to reduce emotional disturbances and social isolation among your student.

Ask the student’s teacher to create personalized learning videos and in return help your student make personalized videos back. This is a great activity as it keeps the student bonded with their teacher and allows the student to make a creation of their own. Not to mention Next Thought Studios even researched about why videos are so important in education.

Have Reasonable Flexibility

If your student is receiving an IEP, it is important to maintain regular meetings. However, it is also important to be flexible. That is not to say you should cancel their meetings or allow skipping of meetings but try to create a flexible schedule that also mimics a routine.

If your child normally meets every Tuesday and Wednesday at 3pm weekly for example, try to maintain that routine. If you must change it, make sure it is a regularly occurring change like Tuesday at 3pm and Fridays at 6pm every other week instead. If you are forced to compromise routine, ensure that all IEP meeting needs and concerns are met regardless of timeframe and regularly express the importance of routine to any parties involved.

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Create Roles for Parents and Teachers

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the lines between teaching and parenting were blurred. Teachers were given parenting responsibilities and vice-versa. This can cause a lot of frustration and affect student learning. Try creating a clear list of responsibilities so that each party knows each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Depending on your child’s needs, be clear about your capabilities and knowledge. For example, if your student has a physical disability, you as a parent or caretaker usually cannot do proper physical therapy without the specialized tools and methods utilized by the teacher or therapist. However, parents and caretakers can do smaller activities relating to fine or gross motor skills or any other physical activities related to your student’s need with professional permission. Always put the student’s safety and education first when creating your specialized roles.

Individualize Technology According to Needs

Distance learning typically requires some form of technology like laptops, writing pads, and touch monitors to name a few. Keep in mind that many IEPs or personalized plans still require some type of face-to-face interaction. While there are great assistive technologies out there, be aware that not all EdTech solutions will fit a child’s need.

However, depending on the student’s needs, doing simple technology substitutions can be beneficial for them. For example, maybe your student’s classroom usually uses tablets, but you find that your child needs a large screen to be able to see clearly. Be accommodating and allow the student to use something different like laptop or large monitor screen. If the technology is compatible in functionality and intended learning objective, choose the technology that best fits their comfort.

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Final Thoughts for Distance Learning for Special Education

Distance learning for students with special needs has a lot of challenges, but there are ways to alleviate them. Most importantly, for distance learning to be successful for not just students with special needs, but for all students, teachers and parents must be willing to become a team with a common goal of individual student success.

ViewSonic wants to make sure your educational experience as a teacher, student, or parent is successful and enjoyable in all learning spaces. If you still feel unsure, make sure to check out our education solutions or read up on the different types of distance education to understand more.