Assistive technology helps students with learning disabilities reach their full potential. These tools help children with speech, cognitive, or visual impairments adapt to a regular classroom. For instance, speech processing software, such as speech-to-text or MP3-to-text converter, helps kids with various learning challenges access information.
The use of assistive technology in the classroom helps students have quality education and prevents them from being placed in separate classrooms or having someone to write or speak for them. It allows them to have the same opportunity as students without disabilities because inclusion is just as important as the promise of quality education.
What Is Assistive Technology?
Assistive technology is any device or software that helps students with disabilities learn effectively and improve their skills. Although each student has unique learning challenges, assistive technology allows them to have a quality education as everyone else.
Each tool is made to enhance their skill sets by making hands-on learning more engaging. Most devices are designed with attractive designs and colors to encourage them to learn while having fun. Some examples include:
- Special Keyboards: These ergonomic keyboards are catered for students with visual impairment or other cognitive disabilities.
- Adaptive Pencil Grips: Handwriting grips help students with fine motor skills write legibly. They help the user have an accurate grasp of the pencil to allow more control over their handwriting.
- Closed Captioning: This technology allows students with hearing disabilities to learn from video-based lessons.
- Personal Listening Devices: These devices help capture the instructor’s voice to help students with hearing disabilities communicate properly.
- Timers: For kids having a hard time transitioning between tasks, timers can help remind them how much time is left for an activity.
- Portable Word Processors: These lightweight devices help students efficiently create and edit written work instead of doing it by hand.
- Talking Calculators: These feature speech synthesizers that read numbers or symbols aloud to let students check their answer’s accuracy.
- Electronic Worksheets: Dyslexic students can use electronic worksheets to help them line up equations or words on their assignments. These may come with speech synthesizers as well.
- Variable Speed Recorders: Some students may have trouble keeping up with auditory lectures. They can use variable speed recorders that allow them to speed up or slow down recorded lectures. The pitch can also be modified to make the lesson easier to listen to.
- Phonetic Spelling Software: This software is designed to help students with reading and writing challenges. It automatically converts what the student has typed to the proper word they intended to write.
Benefits of Assistive Technology to Students
Hands-on learning aids make students learn through active participation. These will benefit them not only intellectually but also physically and socially.
Enhances Fine Motor Skills
Teachers can optimize the classroom for students with physical limitations by using standing desks, exercise balls, and interactive touchscreen displays. These will improve their fine motor skills, increasing their ability to participate in various activities.
Switch-adapted learning toys make learning more fun while improving their motor development, communication skills, and visual tracking. They also let the students take control, so they become more actively engaged. This will promote a positive and proactive attitude that will help them excel in their work.
Improves Organization and Memory
There are online applications that help students arrange information and remember assignments. For instance, graphic organizers let them input data into their computer, then organize the information based on keywords and other subjects.
To let students have regular access to assistive technology, smartphones or tablets are allowed in the classroom so that they can use the tools needed even at home. Helpful tools like scheduling apps are essential to help students set reminders on essential tasks. Teachers can set certain rules for smartphone use to avoid distractions during class.
Group activities are essential for the students’ education as it lets them interact and learn social skills. Sharing time can be fun by passing around a switch-adapted toy or musical device. This helps build relationships and promote engagement which is vital for their development.
When they express themselves, they’re able to build friendships with their classmates and even with adults. This opportunity makes them more encouraged to interact with others and make everyone feel included.
Assistive technology helps empower students with learning disabilities to interact and learn with their fellow students. Schools have more inclusive classrooms that make students with learning challenges more eager to learn and meet their peers. This empowerment is vital for them to excel in their education, career, and personal lives.