Computers as Accessibility Tools for Students with and without Learning Disabilities

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This study investigated the attitudes and opinions of three students with and three students without learning disabilities regarding the use of computers for school-related work. The students (in grades 5 through12) were selected from three school sites and interviewed in-depth. Analysis of interviews with open-coding procedures identified five general themes: applications of computers, instructional uses of computers, attitudes about computers, personal experience with computers, and resource needs. Comparison of students with and without learning disabilities showed that although most students were generally positive about computers, students with learning disabilities had qualitatively different experiences with computers and less positive attitudes about computers than those without learning disabilities. These students also expressed greater frustration about learning to use a computer and were more equivocal about the role of computers in educational programs. The most salient finding was the connection between participant attitudes and prior computer-related experiences. Results suggest the need to integrate instruction about technology into early intervention programs for students with learning disabilities.