Assistive technologies include, but are not limited to, the following:
Some of the concerns raised by teachers, parents and children about the use of AT include: the cost of purchasing multiple software titles; the need to switch from one application to another; and, the lack of integration between the applications recommended and those used by the school. Companies such as Microsoft and Apple have responded to these concerns and have embedded a variety of different AT tools into their products.
The use of multimedia and electronic information allows children with reading disabilities to improve their comprehension of a topic or idea without being dependent on their reading ability
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 children 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 children will find that their need for AT does not emerge until much later in their education.
Matching the child’s needs with the use of assistive technology should happen when the need arises.
Early on in Primary school, children are more likely to benefit from the use of educational software and online learning programs to help support reading and spelling development. Children 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.