Using Technology To Assist Gifted Students With Motor Impaired Hands

With broadband Internet access finally making its way to many rural areas, students who live in the country are increasingly able to take advantage of this technology to enhance their learning experience. One particular sub-subset of this group, gifted students with motor impaired hands, is finding access to the Internet particularly useful.


In his article “Electronic Technology: Hope for Rural Gifted Students Who have Motor Impairment of the Hands,” Frank Belcastro describes that those who have motor impaired hands suffer from: “severe arthritis, repetitive strain injury, nerve and muscle disease or injury, cerebral palsy, and muscular dystrophy.” Since this sub-subset is so particularly defined, traditionally there haven’t been many educational programs that address this impairment; thusly these students are prevented from “realizing their potential.”


The most direct way to help these students to realize their potential is to provide them with the opportunity to immerse them in a new world via the computer. A special accommodation, like this, for the physically impaired may only require minor curriculum change, though you will likely need to "modify performance requirements or implement adaptations" as indicated in the meta-Wiki.

Because of their disability, though, it can be extremely difficult for these students to interface with the technology. For this reason Belcastro recommends a number of voice recognition software solutions that would give the students full access to the computer’s functionality. Belcastro suggests that students starting off using this voice recognition software get special instruction and tutored help in order to get up to speed, adding as many as a few weeks to their curriculum.


Since school districts in typically poor rural areas cannot afford such technology, Belcastro concludes his paper with a number of suggestions on how to implement a program of this nature. First, he advocates looking towards state and federal legislatures, who have traditionally willing to provide broadband access to schools. Belcastro also points to grants that are available under existing legislation, like the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, and requirements that exist under the ADA.

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Belcastro, F. (2005, September). Electronic Technology: Hope for Rural Gifted Students Who have Motor Impairment of the Hands. Journal of Developmental & Physical Disabilities, 17(3), 237-247.
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