Assistive technologies include, but are not limited to, the following:
Allows any electronic text that can be highlighted to be read aloud by a computer or mobile device.
Allows a computer or enabled hand held device to be trained in how you speak, and once trained, to write down everything you dictate into any active textbox.
Enables students to recall, plan, practise speeches, practise pronunciations, and dictate information.
Provides a multisensory learning experience and there are a large number of apps that can be used to support students across a variety of learning areas.
Uses phonetic patterns to suggest words for a poor speller when a computer is not available.
Uses phonetic and grammar patterns to suggest words as each letter/word is typed.
Displays a picture of a page rather than the text headings or written content of a webpage.
Used to support reading and writing. Includes templates for writing, graphic organisers, grammar checkers, and study tools.
Provides support for the development of phonological awareness and phonics.
Can be used with reading software and mp3 players/iPods.
The applications of AT are far and wide for each student. The usefulness of AT will vary depending on each student’s ease at using the AT and depending on their individual needs and difficulties.
Examples of effective AT options for the student with a learning disability:
- The use of multimedia and electronic information allows students with reading disabilities to improve their comprehension of a topic or idea without being dependent on their reading ability;
- Computers and word processors can reduce the burden of editing and re-writing assignments, making the writing process faster and allowing students to work more independently;
- A photo taken with any device that has a camera may be used instead of copying information from a whiteboard. This information can be stored digitally and in some cases converted to text;
- An MP3 recorder on any device can record ideas and help overcome short term memory difficulties
When should Assistive Technology be introduced?
Some students will find it very beneficial to use assistive technology and educational software to support the early development of literacy skills and letter-sound awareness. Other students will find that their need for AT does not emerge until much later in their education.
Matching students’ needs with the use of assistive technology should happen when the need arises.
Early on in Primary school, students are more likely to benefit from the use of educational software and online learning programs to help support reading and spelling development. Students at this level are also likely to benefit from the multisensory nature of iPads, tablets and the interactive whiteboard.
In Upper Primary and Secondary school, the use of AT may be extended to the provision of assistive technology to accommodate for the difficulties that the student may be experiencing. Software such as Text to Speech allows for better comprehension of information and independent learning, whilst software to support the writing process can be introduced to assist with the high demand on writing in the later years of school.
Technology to assist with organisation, study skills, time management and memory can be introduced at any stage.