Technology Tools to Support Special Education Instruction

Technology tools and resources that support students with disabilities who receive category B services within FCPS and access special education instruction in various classroom settings.

These technology tools and resources support students with disabilities who receive category B services within FCPS and access special education instruction in various classroom settings. Special education services for students receiving category B services are designed for students with low incidence disabilities who exhibit moderate to significant delays in the areas of language, communication, cognition, socialization, and adaptive functioning that impact their ability to demonstrate progress in the general curriculum. A continuum of technology tools, from low-tech to high-tech, is used to support the unique needs of our students with disabilities and to provide various accommodations that may be beneficial for use in the classroom and at home.

Visual Supports

Visual supports can be used in the educational and home environment to help clarify verbal information, encourage child initiation, support behavior management and maintain and direct attention. Visual supports can be used to help with choice-making, directions, schedules, and behavioral expectations. They can be objects, photographs, pictures, line drawings or other items. For additional information on visual supports and strategies, check out these resources: video tutorial on visual supports, examples of visual supportsFairfax County Public Schools Visual Strategies Tip Sheet

Visual Schedules -Visual schedules can help children understand routines and anticipate what is next. Visual schedules can include daily schedules that list the day's activities, task analysis schedules that break down steps in a task (handwashing or getting dressed, for example) or activities to complete within a time frame. Video Tutorial on Visual Supports at Home: SchedulesVideo Tutorial on Visual Supports at Home: Work Task Schedules

Calendars - Calendars are a visual tool to help keep track of hours, days, and months. They help to provide students with expectations of when things will happen, such as school events, assignment due dates, etc. Video Tutorial on Visual Supports at Home: Calendars

Timers - A timer is a type of clock used for measuring specific time intervals. Timers keep track of how much time has passed and how much time is left. Timers help students to focus, stay on task, and may reduce stress. Video Tutorial on Visual Supports at Home: Timers

Windows 10 Timer - Windows 10 has a built-in timer that can be used to help manage time.  The timer gives a visual and musical notification when they go off. Multiple timers can be saved in the app as well. Video Tutorial on How to Setup and Use Windows 10 Timer App

Calming Strategies - Visuals can be used as a calming board to display calming strategies for students to choose from. These can include blowing bubbles, listening to music, taking a walk, stretching, going to a quiet space, putty, etc. These strategies are best introduced prior to behaviors and once their preferred strategies are determined, they can be displayed nearby for the student to easily access.

Token Boards - Token boards are a low tech tool used to help regulate behavior through positive reinforcement. Token boards allow students to be reinforced for desired behavior and tokens earned can be exchanged to participate in a motivating activity. Video Tutorial on How to Use a Token Board | Video Tutorial on Visual Supports at Home: Token Boards | Video Tutorial on How to Create a Token Board in Microsoft WordPrintable Token Board Templates

First/Then Boards - First then boards are simple visual schedule tools that communicate to students what they need to do now (First) and what comes next (Then). These boards can be used as behavior supports to help a student complete an undesired task.  The demand (First) would be paired with a reinforcer (Then). Video Tutorial on Visual Supports at Home: First/Then Boards | Video Tutorial on How to Create a Low Tech First/Then Board | Video Tutorial on How to Create a First/Then Board in Microsoft Word

Choice Boards - Choice boards are a visual tool that allows a student to select between choices. Choice boards help a student explore information and understand options. They provide structure, assist with making a request, clarify spoken language, and promote independence. Video Tutorial on Visual Supports at Home: Choice Boards

Connect Ability Visuals Engine - Connect Ability Visuals Engine provides templates with an image library to create custom visual supports and sequences for a variety of uses, such as choice boards, communication boards, schedules, etc. 

Printable Picture Cards - Printable picture cards for a variety of topic areas, such as safety, self-help, calendar, home and school, etc.

Global Symbols - A dictionary of free global symbols for communication and literacy. Design, build, save and print communication boards online.

Video Modeling - Video modeling is a teaching strategy where a student watches a video of someone doing an appropriate behavior/skill and then imitates the behavior/skilled that they watched. Video modeling encourages independence and consistency in teaching an appropriate behavior or skill. Video Tutorial on Visual Supports at Home: Video Modeling


Number Frames - Number frames are grids that can be used with manipulatives to learn math concepts such as counting, addition, or subtraction. Frames help students to see quantities as equal groups and can help students better understand math functions and number relationships.

Math Mat - Math mats are quick reference sheets that display key information such as number lines, shapes, 100’s table, money and math symbols on one sheet. They aid in student independence and can be catered to different grade levels and abilities. 

Graph Paper - Gridded graph paper can help students to line up numbers when completing math problems.


Slanted Writing Surface - Some students may benefit from having slanted surfaces to write on. This can be accomplished using binders with binder clips or slant boards. 

Adapted Paper - Paper adaptations can be helpful for students with writing challenges. These can include different colored or highlighted lines, bigger spaces or raised lines. Video Tutorial on Adapted Paper

Pencil Grips - Pencil grips assist a student in maintaining a proper grip when writing. Grips can also be helpful in reducing fatigue or discomfort when writing. Video Tutorial on Pencil Grips

Reading and Social Stories

Tar Heel Reader - Resource website of free, easy-to-read, accessible books on a wide range of topics. Each book can be speech enabled and accessed by touch, mouse, switch, or eye gaze. To enable speech, choose a book to read, click the gear icon in the top right corner, and then select your speech preference.

Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities - Resource library with adapted literature for students with disabilities.

Social Stories - Social stories are used to teach students coping strategies and social skills using simple language and visuals. Social stories can be personalized to the student by using photos of themselves or their classroom/home to aid in comprehension. Video Tutorial on How to Create a Social Story

Social Stories Library - This website provides a variety of social stories, such as school routines, emotions and friendships. These social stories are downloaded to Microsoft Word and can be adapted to meet your child's needs.

Other Supports

Accessible YouTube - Accessible YouTube allows a user to use switches to navigate videos and playlists. Once someone has typed in a topic of interest to perform the initial YouTube video search, the user can use their switch to play, stop, pause or see similar videos related to the topic of interest. 

Tar Heel Gameplay - Resource website of free, easy-to-play, accessible games. Each game is speech enabled and may be accessed via touch, mouse, switch, or eye gaze. You can create your own games using videos from YouTube.

For additional technology tools and resources, please check out our Technology Tools to Support All Learners page.
Technology Tools to Support All Learners

Check out our assistive technology tools and resources for alternative computer access.
Assistive Technology Tools and Resources for Alternative Computer Access