Assistive technology devices enable students with disabilities to express what they know, and rapid advancements in technology are helping to “redefine ability and disability,” says Milton Chen, senior fellow and director emeritus at the George Lucas Educational Foundation. Chen was an opening keynote speaker at the National Center for Technology Innovation’s 2010 Technology Innovators Conference in Washington, D.C., in November.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs and housed at the American Institutes for Research, NCTI advances learning opportunities for students with disabilities by fostering assistive technology innovation. One service that can help in this area is NCTI’s TechMatrix, a website that provides free information about educational and assistive technology products for students with disabilities, as well as English language learners. This past fall, NCTI added science to the categories of products covered in the TechMatrix, which already included reading, math, and writing. Now, the TechMatrix features information about more than 300 educator-reviewed products, searchable by subject area and grade level, as well as case studies and other implementation guidance. Chen said he hopes that in the near future, observers will be able to peer into a classroom of students and will not be able to identify students with disabilities. http://www.techmatrix.org

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Jeff Festa