Assistive technology is more than just educational tech for kids. While there is some overlap with game-based learning, student e-readers, and classroom software, assistive technology is used for more specific student needs.
It includes software, devices, and other tools that help people with different learning abilities and requirements.
Assistive devices can be high-tech and low-tech tools that assist students with specific aspects of study and learning, such as reading, writing, math, and listening comprehension.
Adaptive technologies can also include devices that broaden access to conventional teaching methods, for example, mobility aids that enable physically disabled students to participate and engage within a traditional classroom.
In addition to broadening access to education essentials, assistive technology can enhance the learning experience by making it easier for students to focus, follow instructions, and process information for more productive learning and growth.
Assistive technology has been around for a lot longer than many people realize and comes in many forms.
The options are only continuing to diversify and advance, which is benefiting more students all the time. But to be really effective it’s helpful to know what’s out there and how to pair it with specific learning needs.
Assistive Technology Examples And How To Put Them To Work
Adaptive devices for persons with disabilities can include many low-tech additive tools. Examples of these are large font books and line-isolators that enable students to focus on smaller portions of a page, pencil grips for students with motor impairments, and sensory input devices like stress balls and fidget toys.
These simple inventions can be impactful in enabling students to adapt to more conventional teaching methods and often do not require great expense or special training to deploy.
They can help students overcome distinct but disruptive obstacles to learning and classroom participation.
More advanced assistive technology examples are frequently modulation (FM) to reduce background noise and improve the learning environment for students with autism and hearing impairments.
Text-to-speech software can be effective for reading comprehension, overcoming vision impairments, retaining information, and improving writing skills.
Word prediction software, braille translation software, and electronic spellers function in similar ways to help students connect with learning material in ways that are more manageable and intuitive.
More advanced and experimental adaptive technologies, like augmented reality learning and sip-and-puff computer control systems, are also entering classrooms and learning spaces to help students with very specific needs.
Whether the technology itself is high-tech or low-tech, a thorough assistive technology evaluation will need to be performed, which will identify specific needs so that relevant and realistic solutions can implemented.
Assistive technology evaluations are usually completed by special education and adaptive technology specialists, as well as occupational, speech, and physical therapists.
Using Assistive Technology In The Classroom
After appropriate assistive technology options are identified, the next step is applying them to the classroom or learning environment. If the adaptive learning device or tool is low-tech, low-cost, and requires no special qualifications to manage, then teachers, parents, and administrators can work together to help students get started.
Higher tech and more advanced assistive learning tools may require special approval, funding resources, and management requirements, which unfortunately can be an obstacle.
Working with an assistive technology or special education advocate can help when it comes to navigating resources and procuring necessary equipment.
It will also be necessary for educators, parents, and/or student aides to be adequately trained in the specific tool so that they can guide the student in using the technology.
Regardless of the assistive device or learning aid, regular check-ins should be a part of the integration to ensure the technology is delivering positive effects and also not creating issues that might make the student overly reliant.