How Tech Treats Students With Disabilities Like Criminals

By Evan Enzer, Sarah Roth: For Complete Post, Click Here…

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) needs an update to protect vulnerable kids’ rights in the age of artificial intelligence (AI) and nonstop surveillance.

When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) went into effect 32 years ago, there was optimism that technology could close the education gap for students with disabilities and other special needs. The ADA went far beyond visible disabilities, promising life-changing protections to the neurodivergent.

We, as neurodivergent people, know how educational technology can change lives—and how word processors, spellcheck, and self-paced learning can let our brains thrive in ways traditional schooling never could. But we also see how emerging technology threatens to do the reverse, making school a harsher, less accessible environment.

Today, schools across the country increasingly turn to techno-solutionist tools that harm students with invisible disabilities. Crude risk assessment tools mistake neurodivergence as a harm to ourselves and others. Social media monitors evaluate posts about mental health, and penalize students who need psychological evaluations as part of their individualized learning assessment.

Remote and computer proctoring programs with biometric monitoring capabilities have become a mainstay during the COVID pandemic. These programs flag students for cheating when they look away from their screens or make other “suspicious” movements. This harbors real danger for people with disabilities. The vocal and facial expressions of a student with a disability may differ from the “normal” baseline that a software program compares the student to—mislabeling their affect and singling them out for discipline.

In many cases, remote proctoring programs do not even try to accommodate disabilities—denying test-takers bathroom breaks, time away from their computer screen, scratch paper, and dictation software. This exacerbates disabilities, causes stress, and forces test takers to rush through the most important tests of their lives.

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