Special needs

As I
speak with districts about ramping up for the 21st century
, special
education teachers and directors have asked me several times lately:

What will the role of adults with special needs be in the new economy? In
particular, how do we prepare students with cognitive disabilities to
participate and function in this new era?

Although assistive technologies can actually help some individuals
with disabilities be productive learners / workers, I believe the concern here
is that many of the lower-skill jobs traditionally held by employable adults
with cognitive disabilities may go overseas where wages and benefits are
lower.

My knowledge of workforce training for students with cognitive disabilities
is virtually nil. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

One Response to “Special needs”

  1. I’ve been thinking about your post for a few days. What’s sparked this comment is a post over at the Infinite Thinking Machine:

    http://www.infinitethinking.org/2007/02/giving-voice-in-her-own-words.html

    Technology is going to help some of these individuals, not just to find gainful employment but to become productive members of society. Steven Hawking comes to mind.

    Depending on the sector that these individuals could work in, based on their individual disabilities, outsourcing may not be issue. Service industry jobs are difficult to ship elsewhere and that’s where many adults with cognitive disabilities are able to find work today and will be able to in the future. The days of winding copper wire around an alternator for eight hours a day may be gone, but this isn’t a bad thing.

    Being a parent of a special needs child (http://mrmoses.org/?page_id=9) makes this an at home issue for me. Will technology improve his quality of life, I don’t know. What I do know is that if my son was born 10 years earlier the technology wasn’t there to save his life and he wouldn’t be here at all. What will technology bring for him in the next ten years? I don’t know, but the prospect of what it might bring is a small glimmer of hope in an otherwise difficult existence.

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