Students with disabilities face challenges at every turn in the pursuit of education.Depending on the disability, a student may have a difficult time with being in a large classroom, participating in front of others, retaining information as a teacher talks, and more.
But technology is helping to bridge the gap, ensuring students with learning disabilities can get as much from different classes as their peers.
What is Assistive Technology?
Assistive technology, or AT, is the use of technology to help students who suffer from disabilities. These disabilities can range from physical to learning. The goal of assistive technology is to help students with disabilities use their strengths to overcome any weakness in their ability to learn in the same way as their peers.
The use of assistive technology is not seen as a way to cure or eliminate learning disabilities. It is meant to help children so they can learn in a more comfortable, engaging and productive environment.
A simple example of assistive technology is using audiobooks to help a student who can retain information, but has a very hard time with reading. The student could listen to audiobooks as a compliment to the text, ensuring they have a much easier time retaining information for their different classes.
What Problems Does It Solve?
Some students suffer from difficulty in processing spoken language. It is easier for them to process things in a one-to-one session. But when it is a teacher speaking quickly to a whole classroom of kids, they have a hard time.
Devices could be used to provide students with a written layout of what the teacher is saying. Or they could receive a recording of each class, which they could go over with their parents at home.
Other students struggle with the physical task of writing. Using computers or tablets could help those students. It would allow them to develop writing skills, spelling, grammar and pronunciation without their disability holding them back.
What Are Some Assistive Technology Tools?
There are special keyboards available for students who have learning disabilities. These keywords have fewer inputs, with some having whole words instead of letters. It allows the student to quickly type up the sentence they are attempting to put together, instead of needing to input each letter.
Audiobooks are a wonderful example of assistive technology. With many schools offering students tablets or computers, a student could listen to an audiobook on their electronic device. They can pause, go back, slow down the speed or repeat sections until they better understand the information being conveyed.
Helpful Tips for Parents
The concept of assistive technology is exciting for parents, but it also feels overwhelming as they there are so many options out there. It is always a good idea for parents to sit down with teachers or school principals so they can assess the options for helping their child.
School professionals can work with parents, explaining what assistive technology they have available and how it may help the child.
There is no reason why children with disabilities should suffer in education. Technology is advancing so rapidly, which means assistive tech is only going to get better, more affordable and more helpful to students.