Assistive technology refers to the devices and services used to enhance the educational abilities of students with learning disabilities. Assistive technology encompasses a wide range of interventions, from very low tech to extremely high tech. Assistive technology for learning disabilities can benefit students through helping bypass educational challenges and supporting more effective ways of learning.
Considerations When Choosing Assistive Technology
At Transitions, we acknowledge the individuality of every student with a learning disability. Therefore, it is hugely important to identify a student’s individual needs when it comes to assistive technology. Some significant areas to consider include:
- The kind of learning disability the student has
- The severity of the student’s learning disability
- The impact the learning disability has on the student’s academic performance (which educational areas are affected)
- The student’s preferred learning style
- The educational context (i.e. is the student participating in a seminar, a group project, a large lecture, etc.)
Assistive Technology for Learning Disabilities-Reading
- Text to speech software – helpful for students who have difficulty reading standard print, text to speech technology works by scanning and then reading the words in a synthesized, lifelike voice. Text to speech software helps many with blindness, dyslexia, or other visual impairments.
- Audio books – recorded books are becoming more and more popular amongst the general public, but have long been an assistive technology for learning-disabled students. Audio books allow students to listen to text in various formats (i.e. – CDs, audiocassettes, MP3s, etc.).
Assistive Technology for Learning Disabilities-Writing
- Graphic organizers – through assisting students in organizing thoughts during the writing process, graphic designers are helpful in mapping out a course of action. Depending on the type of writing, a graphic organizer can prompt the student to perform certain tasks. Graphic organizers are one of the most popular forms of assistive technology for learning disabilities, often used by those with dysgraphia or disorders of written expression.
- Word prediction programs – these programs aid in spelling, word choice, and sentence completion. There are many word prediction programs to choose from, depending on the computer processing system the student will be using.
- Pencil grips – considered a low-tech assistive technology, pencil grips fit over a pencil to provide an easy guide for positioning the thumb, middle, and index fingers correctly. Pencil grips enable students to grasp their writing utensil properly, facilitating quicker and neater handwriting. Pencil grips are often used for students with dysgraphia
Assistive Technology for Learning Disabilities–Listening
- FM systems – students with sensorineural hearing loss (the most common type of hearing loss) often use FM systems in the classroom. FM systems use radio broadcast technology
- Sound-field systems – these amplification systems provide an even spread of sound throughout a room. Sound-field systems allow deaf students to clearly hear a teacher’s voice, regardless of where they are sitting in a classroom.
The available forms of technology used to assist students with learning disabilities extend far beyond this list. To learn about other ways to support your student with learning disabilities or to find out more about Transitions programs, call us at at (518) 775-5384.