‘Special educational needs and disabilities challenge us to find innovative ways to help children reach their potential.’
A big part of our mission is to seek out the best assistive technology (AT) and to showcase its innovative use and life-changing potential. That search has taken me to some interesting places and events in the last four months, including BETT, ATiA and the Education Show. At them I have spoken to developers, manufacturers and distributers of some outstanding software and hardware, and to the hard-working professionals who use it. I have also met old friends and made new ones – all of them involved in some way with SEND.
Special educational needs and disabilities challenge us to find innovative ways to help children reach their potential. That means ‘staying ahead of the curve’ and exploring whether new technology can help us achieve something that might otherwise be impossible. Innovation, of course, is never risk free. Many of these technologies are called ‘disruptive’ for good reason. They call into question the tried-and-tested ways in which we have done things in the past and in some cases they pose new problems of their own.
Nor do they resolve the debate around what it is to be ‘normal’ and who decides whether it is something we should all aspire to. While I couldn’t make it to the Will Technology Put an End to Disability? panel discussion recently organised by Future Tense – it was held in Washington DC – I was able to watch it later, as can you, thanks to technology. The technologies they discussed may seem far removed from children with SEND but many of the things that have made them possible – better battery power and life, greater computing capacity, improved sensors – are driving innovation in education too.
Our Directory includes companies with some of the great products I have seen on my visits and in some cases mentioned in my review of ATiA 2015. I have more visits planned for this year and staff from Special World will certainly be at BETT, ATiA and the Education Show in 2016. We hope to see you there.