7 Types of Assistive Technology in the Classroom
Assistive technology is designed to help students who have learning disabilities. Whether students have physical impairments, dyslexia or cognitive problems, assistive technology can help them to function within the classroom. These tools include any type of equipment or device that helps students to compensate for their learning disabilities. While they are unable to eliminate learning problems entirely, they can help students to capitalize on their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Among the most innovative technologies available today, the following seven are some of the most popular.
1. Electronic Worksheets
Students with learning disabilities like dyslexia can use electronic worksheets to complete their assignments. These worksheets help students to line up words, equations and numbers on their assignments. On some of the worksheets, text-to-speech or speech synthesizing technology is even available.
2. Phonetic Spelling Software
For many children with learning disabilities, reading and writing can be a challenge. Phonetic spelling software is designed to automatically convert the student’s typing into the word that they intended to write. For alternative reading options, students can always check out audiobooks. With the audiobook, students can follow along in their text and overcome reading difficulties.
3. Talking Calculators
Students who have dyscalculia can benefit greatly from a talking calculator. The gadget makes it easier to check assignments, read numbers and perform calculations. While the talking calculator is a fairly simple tool, it offers an exceptional benefit for students who would otherwise struggle in math classes. Other than talking calculators, students can also check out text-to-voice devices. They function on the same concept of converting written words into an audible track. Students can use these devices to check their spelling or to improve their reading comprehension skills.
4. Variable Speed Recorders
Everyone has a different learning style, and many students struggle with understanding auditory lectures. For these students, a variable speed recorder is an ideal solution. In essence, the student just has to hit record while they are in class. Afterward, the recording can be slowed down or sped up for the student to listen to it again and again. If the pitch of the recording is hard to understand, students can modify the pitch up or down to make their lectures more accessible.
5. Videotaped Social Skills
Autistic children and other children with learning disabilities may struggle to figure out normal social interactions. In the past, the most common way to learn social interactions was to practice them. Unfortunately, many children inadvertently behaved inappropriately as they tried to learn what defined “normal” social interactions. With videotaped social interactions, students can learn important life skills and social behavior without accidentally offending someone. In addition to interpersonal skills, these videos can work for self-help, linguistic, academic and emotional problems as well.
Learning disabilities can manifest in a variety of different ways. From mild disabilities to debilitating problems, these disabilities affect the student’s ability to learn and take part in a classroom. Unfairly stigmatized in popular culture, it is now possible to use technology to overcome many learning disabilities. From offering students ways to slow down the lecture to providing talking calculators, these technological devices are able to meet the student’s unique needs. With help, students can become the competent, exceptional individuals that they already have the potential to be.
Word prediction software can help a user during word processing by "predicting" a word the user intends to type. Predictions are based on spelling, syntax, and frequent/recent use. This prompts kids who struggle with writing to use proper spelling, grammar, and word choices, with fewer keystrokes.
Optical character recognition
This technology allows a user to scan printed material into a computer or handheld unit. The scanned text is then read aloud via a speech synthesis/screen reading system. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is available as stand-alone units, computer software, and as portable, pocket-sized devices.