Using information and communication technology with special educational needs students

Peter Williams (Centre for Information Behaviour and the Evaluation of Research, School of Library, Archive and Information Studies, University College London, London, UK)

Aslib Proceedings

ISSN: 0001-253X

Publication date: 1 December 2005



A research study into the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in a special educational needs (SEN) environment, as part of a larger project to develop a multimedia learning environment for this group. Benefits and barriers of ICT usage in this environment were examined, and attitudes and experiences of SEN teachers were explored. An enquiry into the information and other needs of the teachers formed part of the study, and the working environment was also researched, for contextual information.


Qualitative depth interviews were undertaken in the working locations of the SEN teachers and assistants.


The SEN working environment was found to have changed greatly in recent years. There was now a more formal and structured curriculum, and many attempts at activities designed to foster inclusion. Difficulties faced by teachers included a lack of and poorly functioning equipment, a paucity of appropriate learning materials, and unusual challenges posed by the differing needs of learners. The needs of teachers included ways of facilitating evidence of progress, lesson plans classified according to cognitive and accessibility levels, and administrative information. Advantages of using ICT ranged from enhancing the learning experience by offering a more personalised environment, to “liberating pupils” from problems such as physical cutting and pasting.


Most literature on using ICT for those with SEN focuses on physical rather than cognitive disabilities. There has been almost no literature on the views or needs of SEN staff, with regard to this topic.



Williams, P. (2005), "Using information and communication technology with special educational needs students", Aslib Proceedings, Vol. 57 No. 6, pp. 539-553.

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