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October 23, 2014

All students deserve a high-tech classroom

4201 Schools Association of New York State Supports Smart Schools Bond Act

By Harold Mowl, Ph.D.

On Nov. 4, Election Day, New Yorkers will be given a choice to vote for the Smart Schools Bond Act – a measure that would infuse $2 billion into public schools for technology improvements.

The act, which the governor proposed earlier this year, would allow schools to create “21st century” classrooms to help students learn the technological skills they will need after graduation.

The use of technology is an important component to a modern classroom. For children attending specialized schools across New York, including Rochester School for the Deaf (RSD), the educational pathway can be dramatically improved through technology, which is often the only thing that separates the student from isolation.

Many children with disabilities, whether cognitive, physical, or learning-related, develop skills to function independently and interact confidently, enabling them to discover and communicate in the least restrictive environment.

Often it is technology that is the bridge to this goal. Consider the following:

  • Broadband and broadband-related technologies allow our students to overcome physical barriers, access on-demand instruction and improve their ability to communicate;
  • Students with hearing, vision and mobility challenges can use wireless devices with customized learning programs, applications and functionality to improve classroom engagement, student participation and their access to a wide world of learning through the Internet; and
  • Students with low-incidence disabilities are benefited when technology hardware and access to information becomes the rule rather than the exception. 

RSD is one of 11 schools that make up New York’s 4201 Schools Association. Our fellow members serve families with children who are blind, deaf or severely physically disabled. We educate students who are often challenged by rare – or low-incidence – conditions that call for special education outside of the mainstream. They also require educators who have special degrees and experiences serving our student population.

Because RSD is entrusted, empowered and funded to provide and enhance the educational and life experiences of deaf and hard of hearing children and young adults in an optimal educational environment, we join the 4201 Schools Association in supporting the bond act. If it is passed on behalf of traditional public schools, other pockets of state funds would become available to our schools, as well for much-needed technology improvements.

Technology can provide the key link between an educator and a special education student. It opens the student to a world of information that might otherwise be inaccessible.

Dr. Harold Mowl is the superintendent of Rochester School for the Deaf and former chairman of the 4201 Schools Association of New York State.

Photo credit: Mark Benjamin, RIT/NTID

 

 

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