What is a Certificate of Higher Education?

What is Special Education?

What is Special Education exactly? This term refers to the teaching of people who have physical or mental disabilities and the processes and techniques that are unique to the education of such individuals. This practice addresses the individual’s specific learning needs.

Specially Designed Classroom Instruction

Special education involves individually-focused classroom instruction that takes into account the person’s disabilities. Special education teachers are specifically trained on how to identify the best learning style based on a student’s disability. For example, a student who is blind may have a specialized curriculum that makes use of Braille materials. They might have a screen reader for computer or tablet work. The hallways may be marked with braille signs. A student who is paralyzed may have voice-activated devices that allow them to answer questions or demonstrate their knowledge. These instructional techniques are categorized as modifications or accommodations.

Provision of Accommodations in the Learning Environment

In special education, teachers and administrators are required to make accommodations in the student’s learning environment to support their education. Some examples of accommodations include typing homework instead of writing it by hand or giving verbal answers and having someone else write the answers. This is a response accommodation. Another type of modification is presentation accommodation. For example, the student might listen to an audiobook instead of reading a printed book. A setting accommodation includes taking a test in a quieter room or relocating the classroom to a place that is accessible with a wheelchair.

Types of Modifications to the Learning Environment

Individuals with disabilities also need modifications to their learning environment. Some of the modifications that they may receive include simplified assignments. For example, a student with an intellectual disability might get fewer questions on an assignment, or they may be asked to write a paragraph instead of an essay. Another modification that may be enacted upon a student’s instruction is extended time on a test. The student might also get to take more breaks during the test or get to take the test in a different room.

Rights of Special Education Students

According to the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act mandates that schools provide students with a free public education that is appropriate and in the least restrictive environment. A student in special education has the right to be in the environment that is best-suited to their learning needs, which might be a full-inclusion classroom or a separate school. Students in special education programs also have the right to receive services that will maximize their potential. This might mean speech therapy, provision of a slanted desk, or a personal aide or assistant to be at their side throughout the school day.

In many school districts, special education takes place in a separate classroom within a school, allowing students to interact with their peers at lunch and recess times. In other school districts, a special education program might be located in a separate building, allowing for a higher concentration of resources and specialists. Knowing what special education is could help a student decide on a concentration, area of specialty or degree within the field of education and teaching.

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