Three websites were researched for their usefulness by teachers of children with special needs. The three websites researched all had interesting similarities and differences. They are designed with specific children and disabilities in mind. All were designed as resources for the families and educators of children with disabilities. The sites all had valuable information for educators of special needs children. The sites covered different disabilities, but they had a number of similarities. Each site had its positives and areas that could be improved upon.
The first site (www.blindchildren.org) for blind children, their parents and teachers, has a colorful childlike appeal. It provides positive information to support families of blind children and empowers them with ways to educate their small children to keep them active and equal to other children their age. The site is user friendly and easy to navigate. It provides a number of techniques for teachers of children of varying ages, and demonstrates activities both to keep children physically and mentally active. The site uses examples of activities and demonstrates how these activities are helpful when working with blind children. This site goes a step farther to provide links to sources for adaptive educational material for blind children.
The second website (www.deafchildren.org) for families and educators of deaf children was less eye appealing. The site seemed to be geared more towards the parents and families of deaf children than towards educators. It did provide some useful links and resources, but did not provide specific activities to help the children. The site was very helpful in providing families with resources and service providers. It provides information on finding assistance, assessing the level of disability, and information on sign language and cochlear implants. It had newsletters and articles on the successes of deaf children and provided families with a positive image of the deaf child’s future and was very supportive towards these families. The site however does not provide teaching strategies or resources. It does not provide a great deal of information for teachers of deaf children, and does not provide a source to find adaptive materials to help accommodate these children in a classroom. It appeared to provide more emotional support than educational assistance.
The third website (www.nichcy.org) covers learning disabilities in general. This site provides a wealth of information for parents and educators of children. It had a great deal of information, which could be confusing and somewhat overwhelming to someone who did not know exactly what to look for on the site. It could be a valuable resource for parents, educators and the children, but would take awhile to become familiar with. It contains a section on frequently asked questions, which allows people to seek information. The site contained an alphabetized index for finding information on selected topics. It provided research and information on training opportunities. One additional factor this site had that neither of the others contained was a bilingual option for non-English speaking people. It has a number of links and activities. It includes links for the children to connect with information and other children with similar disabilities. The site says it specializes in disabilities in children and youth specifically birth to age twenty-two.
All three sites are informative and provide valuable links and contact information. The three sites all have means of support for parents and family members of children with disabilities. They all provide contact information and resources. Each of the sites provides information on conventions and trainings to assist with the special challenges of caring for special children. All three sites have newsletters and updates to keep families and educators current on the latest research. All sites are designed to provide support and connect families to others who can relate and understand their unique situation. All three dealt with disabilities in a positive upbeat fashion, rather than discouraging the families of these children, they found ways to build confidence in the child’s ability to succeed.
Although the three websites were created to inform and support, they do not all provide information of equal value to educators. The site for deaf children does not provide the educational information and strategies that the other two provided. It provided emotional support to families and gave them resources to find assistance. The Nichcy site was filled with information, but had more than most people would be able to cover in a short amount of time. It would take time and research to become familiar with the site enough to use it effectively. This site covers a variety of disabilities and strategies for teachers. It has a great deal more information than the other two sites, but is not as user friendly or navigable. The easiest site to navigate and find useful information on was the site on blind children. It provided information, activities and strategies in an easily accessible manner.
All three sites had some relevant information for teachers, although the site for deaf children provided mostly only links to other resources. The other two sites had very relevant information. The Nichcy site could provide the teacher with information on almost any learning disability and could provide ways to find teaching materials and strategies for teaching children with a variety of disabilities. This site however had possibly too much information in one site to be relevant. It could have more links and be easier to navigate through the information. It did have links to some training modules on how to teach children with disabilities. Very little of the information was irrelevant, but it could be made more manageable. The blind children’s website has the most relevant and easy to use information. It provides usable activities and strategies, which are divided age-appropriately. The site has relevant resources to link people to places to get curriculum and teaching materials to make teaching blind children easier. The early childhood tips may not be as relevant for teachers of older children, but most of the information could be used.
The site for the blind children would be a site to highly recommend to teachers and fellow students. It is full of information about blindness. It gives useful information to teachers on how to help and teach students with blindness. It helps teachers relate better to children of various ages. This site does not need a great deal of improvement. One suggestion for the sight would be to include a way to emotionally connect with the children in order to gain a better understanding of their capabilities.
The site for deaf children is not one to recommend as it is. It provides beneficial links, but most of these could be found by other means. It is an emotional support and could help teachers relate better with children on this level, but it provides little in the way of teacher support or information. It does not provide techniques, strategies or ideas for teaching deaf children and does not include a link too find adaptive material.
The learning disabilities site is one to recommend to others. It has a tremendous amount of useful information if a person takes time to sort through it. The site provides links to define various disorders such as autism then links to sources to help understand the child’s behavior and how to control this behavior. It is a must for teachers of special needs children to enable them to work with children with learning disabilities. Although the site can be overwhelming, it can be sorted through and the information on a specific disability can be found. This site could be improved by organizing it differently. It takes a great deal of searching to find the information needed, and could be broken down into specific disabilities.
The three sites all provided worthwhile information and could be beneficial. Two of the sites provide activities and training opportunities to educate teachers about disabilities and how to help the children who suffer from these disabilities. The deaf site does not educate teachers on how to adapt a classroom for a deaf child. The sites are all informative and supportive. They could be valuable resources to help with children who have special needs. By searching these sites, a teacher can be prepared for children with the disabilities described in the sites. This enables teachers to acquire basic background information and have classroom adaptations made to make the environment as manageable as possible when the special needs child enters the classroom. The more information a teacher gathers before the child enters the classroom, the easier it will be for the child to adapt. Teachers equipped with the information in these websites will be more prepared to teach special needs children. The three sites reviewed all help better equip the educators for the children to enter their classrooms.