Promotion of education is a fundamental objective of UNESCO. By definition, people with disabilities are often restricted in the extent to which they can take a full part in the society in which they live, but many of those restrictions can be reduced by their receiving good education.
The most important educational resource is people – teachers. However, it has to be recognized that in the present and the foreseeable future, economic and political restrictions are unlikely to be such that adequate supplies of suitably trained teachers will be available to completely fill the need for them. When human resources are inadequate, it is often easier to procure and provide technological solutions and it is most fortunate that in special education, technology can play a highly beneficial role. Although economic restrictions can affect access to technology, it can represent a good investment.
This document outlines the role that information and communication technology (ICT) can achieve in special education, with the objective of getting it more widely adopted and used in UNESCO Member States. It establishes some definitions and then outlines the role ICT can play in education in three identifiable roles:
Technology can substitute or compensate for the lack of natural function. This is important for all people with disabilities and has a particular importance in education.
Again, ICT is growing in importance in all forms of education but can have a particularly valuable role for this with special educational needs.
Communication at a Distance
Technology can mediate communication between people with disabilities. Furthermore, where teachers are in short supply (as in special education) distance teaching methods can help to share what expertise there is. A mapping of technologies to communication needs is presented.
Educational and other cultural challenges may be difficult to address because of economic, social and political constraints and sometimes technology is the easiest way around some of those constraints. This is the case in special education where ICT can have a significant role to play and this can apply in many different environments regardless of their level of educational, technological and economic development.