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Programs to Help with Remote Special Education & Services
A school’s ability to provide special education remotely — including services like occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy, among others — is critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. And not just to meet school obligations under IDEA and Section 504, but because providing these services makes a huge difference in the lives of students.
But remote special education and related service delivery means using digital tools and teletherapy methods that may be new to many educators and service providers. In fact, in a recent survey of special educators and service providers, 76% of respondents said they are using teletherapy or video conferencing to make remote service delivery possible during the pandemic, but only 12% think those methods are “as effective” as traditional methods. Additionally, in a recent national special education panel webinar, 91% of attendees said that their district didn’t use teletherapy prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, how can the effectiveness of remote special education and services be improved? Are there programs or methods that can help? We asked Leigh Ann Black, Lead Therapist, OT and PT Clinical Fieldwork Coordinator for Charleston County School District’s Department of Exceptional Children, for her recommendations on programs that support remote education and service delivery.
Here are the tools Leigh Ann shared and uses in her district:
Disclaimer: Frontline Education does not endorse these products or services.
- Phone ― audio-only and FaceTime ― meetings to offer consultative support to families.
- Email communication weekly with families and teachers; staff support.
- Google Classroom for online instruction, communication, and staff support. The student instructional platform can be used for PDF activities and video. It also makes for easy access to resources by related services staff. In some cases, Google Classroom might be more successful than live instruction for students with either behavioral, cognitive, or more involved physical disabilities.
- Seesaw for online instruction and communication.
- ClassDojo for online instruction and communication with students and families.
- Zoom for live online instruction/support.
- Google Hangouts for live online instruction/support.
- Loom for video production. In some cases, Loom might be more successful than live interactions for students with either behavioral, cognitive, or more involved physical disabilities.
- Screencastify for video production of screen and staff support.
- Talking Points for multi-language text communication and communication in general.
- Boom Cards for interactive flashcards (you may be eligible for a free account if your school has been impacted by COVID-19).
For more remote learning and service-delivery resources and strategies, watch the full webinar: Remote Support for Students with Disabilities: What’s Working & What’s Not?
About Leigh Ann Black:
Leigh Ann has B.S. (Biology) from Boston College; B.S. and Masters in Health Sciences (Physical Therapy) from MUSC. She has been a licensed PT for 23 years and has worked as a physical therapist in acute care, nursing homes, and schools (elementary, middle, and high). Leigh Ann serves as the Lead Therapist of PT and OT staff, as well as the PT on the preschool Child Find evaluation teams for Charleston County School District in South Carolina. In addition to being a physical therapist, she has previous experience as a basic science research specialist (cancer), as well as a systems engineer with a major computer and consulting firm. Leigh Ann has four adult sons and one grandson..5