Leveraging Technology to Support Students with Disabilities: A Conversation with Adrienne Woods

May 23, 2024 | By Hannah Kumbroch

Student using sign language in online class

In the latest episode of The SRI Homeroom, SRI Senior Education Researcher Adrienne Woods joins host Kori Hamilton Biagas to explore strategies for identifying points of intervention along the K–12 continuum that can be used to advance educational and societal opportunities for children with disabilities.

Woods discusses the unique nature of special education and the challenges researchers can face in designing and assessing interventions for children with disabilities. In other settings, for example, researchers often assess interventions by randomly assigning students to treatment and control groups. With special education, Woods says, that’s not possible.

“We can’t randomly assign a child who has a disability to receive or not receive special education … So it’s really tricky to actually estimate how well special education works or does not work.”

Woods discusses her current work on a range of projects, including the LEARN Network, and points to the potential for new technologies and innovations to address long-standing challenges and better support students.

She also stresses the need for tailored approaches to evaluating the effectiveness of special education interventions for different types of students and disabilities.

“And so how do we kind of figure out, for different types of students, for different types of disabilities, is special ed working? And where can we improve it to make sure that it is working and that all these students have the same opportunity to learn and to reap benefit from their education?”

Woods underscores the significance of successfully scaling innovative ideas and interventions to schools. She emphasizes that even the most groundbreaking concepts may fail to make an impact if not properly implemented and adopted by educational institutions.

“You could have the most brilliant idea ever. And if you don’t set it up correctly for a school to adopt it, they’re not going to do it.”

Listen to the full podcast episode for a deeper exploration of strategies to enhance educational opportunities for children with disabilities and overcome the hurdles discussed in this blog post:

Access a transcript of the episode here.

Tags: Access and equity Evidence-based Innovation Research & Developers