Talking calculators, digital pens, word prediction software – these are just a few assistive technologies (AT) that are transforming classroom environments and tailoring lessons to suit the needs of students with learning difficulties.
In an era of innovation, the list of education technologies is extensive. But assistive technologies are there to enrich students’ learning experience and bridge the gap between learners and their environment.
Currently being used to help students with special education needs (SEN) access a more equitable education, here are three AT tools that stand out in the realm of 21st century academics:
It’s International Angelman syndrome day and our own Erin Sheldon wrote about her daughter with Angelman syndrome and what it is so important to presume competence: #Presumecompetence #Angelmansyndrome #Angelman https://t.co/IPbQryHzgO
— AssistiveWare (@AssistiveWare) February 15, 2019
One of the leading assistive technology pioneers, AssistiveWare is committed to helping people with communication difficulties through technology and implementation support.
The company’s journey started more than 20 years ago when a friend of the founder became paralysed in a car accident and needed a way to use his computer. The CEO took on the challenge and developed an on-screen keyboard.
Since then, the company has designed an array of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) apps. From Proloquo4Text to Pictello, Assistiveware has helped many SEN learners develop their talents in and beyond classroom settings.
Kathleen from @texthelp is demonstrating how to create a vocabulary list using Google Chrome Read&Write and @Bookshare Web Reader. Visit our friends at the @texthelp booth for more demos at #ATIA19. Stop by Bookshare booth 309 for more partner demos! #assistivetech #googlechrome pic.twitter.com/IQRTtQMA3R
— Bookshare (@Bookshare) February 1, 2019
For students with reading barriers, Bookshare enables learners to read at their own pace.
Assisting learners with blindness, dyslexia, cerebal palsy and various other reading difficulties, students can choose from over 693,000 book titles and enjoy customised reading.
With this AT tool, students can listen to books with high-quality audio, adjust the reading font and colour, read in braille and even apply word-level highlighting.
Currently, “Bookshare is FREE for US Students with qualifying reading barriers. Students of 18 years and over can sign up on their own; parents can sign up students under 18 years of age.”
So, if you’re residing in the US or know a US-based classroom that could benefit from this technology, this could be a valuable addition.
It’s World Read Aloud Day! At Kurzweil, we strive to help all people experience the joy of literacy and storytelling through our software. How are you celebrating today? #WorldReadAloudDay2019 #WRAD2019 pic.twitter.com/nwQw3mwzon
— KurzweilEdu (@KurzweilEdu) February 1, 2019
A product of Kurzweil Education, the Kurzweil 3000 describes itself as “An educational technology that brings all pieces of the literacy puzzle together with one easy, proven solution to ensure instruction and learning become personal – and meaningful progress becomes possible.”
Ideal for learners who struggle with literacy, this AT tool supplies support for 18 languages and dialects, a talking spell-checker, picture dictionary graphics for more than 40,000 words, text magnification, vocabulary study guides (English and bi-lingual), and more.
This is great for students with visual impairments, as they’ll make texts easier to read and the ‘speak as typing’ features enables learners to self-regulate their writing.
With free trials available, teachers are able to test the software out before committing to its features.
Nevertheless, there are thousands of assistive technologies and tools out there, each with a unique set of advantages to offer the SEN sector.
And with the rate of digitalisation, there will be thousands more approaching, ready to enhance everyone’s learning experience.