Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Alliance for Technology Access; the National Special Education Alliance Continues to Grow

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Alliance for Technology Access; the National Special Education Alliance Continues to Grow

Article excerpt

ALLIANCE FOR TECHNOLOGY ACCESS

The National Special Education Alliance has changed its name to the Alliance for Technology Access in order to more accurately describe its mission and scope.

The National Special Education Alliance was a misnomer for an organization which focuses on increasing the awareness, understanding and implementation of microcomputer technology to benefit people with disabilities of all ages. The Alliance primarily stands for access to technology which is important to all people with disabilities, whether they are enrolled in programs of special education or not.

The Alliance for Technology Access is a name which accomplishes many purposes. First, it bespeaks an "Alliance" -- the key concept of an innovative partnership. The Alliance has always stood for a belief in the collaborative model of parents, consumers, professionals, and technology vendors working as peers in the governance of technology access organizations.

Secondly, the name emphasizes "Technology" which, more than anything else, has changed the meaning of having a disability during the past decade and for all future decades.

Finally, "Access" is another key concept which the Alliance embodies. Two difficult barriers block access to technology for people with disabilities: physical barriers and systemic barriers. The people who form the Alliance are extremely familiar with both kinds of barriers and work daily to build the bridges which support full access to technology.

GROWTH OF THE ORGANIZATION

Officially begun in April 1987 with 11 resource centers in 10 states, the Alliance now has 42 centers in 30 states. All Alliance centers are nonprofit, collaborative organizations seeking to provide people of every age with any form of disability easy access to important technological tools. Centers continue to grow providing increased service to their communities through outreach and a host of activities on a daily basis.

A NEW NATIONAL DEMONSTRATION

In a related move, the Alliance Planning Team formed the nonprofit Foundation for Technology Access to act as a national administrative and fund-raising entity for the entire network of Alliance technology resource centers. The CompuCID (Computer Classroom Integration Demonstration) project is one of the first results of that effort. Supported by funds from a three-year federal grant that resulted from one of the first proposals the foundation ever submitted to the government, CompuCID seeks to answer the question: How can computers help support the integration of students with disabilities in regular public school classrooms into which they are being "mainstreamed? …

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