12 Days of Teaching: 6 Assistive Technology Devices and Apps

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Learning disabilities manifest themselves in countless ways. This can provide unique challenges for teachers of a mixed ability class. But as technology marches on, so do opportunities for academic success.

The term “assistive technology” has traditionally been applied to electronic devices, or computer hardware and software. But new AT tools and applications are now available on the internet, making them more accessible for educators to use in the classroom.

These tools are designed to help students with many types of disabilities—from cognitive problems to physical impairment—and give kids the opportunity to use their abilities to work around their challenges.

While there are dozens of effective assistant technology devices on the market, we’ve chosen six to round out the second week of our 12 Days of Teaching blog series. (If you’ve missed posts one through four in our 12 Days of Teaching series, you can start with 1 Project Based Learning Activity here.

  1. Alternative keyboards: Special overlays allow for students to customize the appearance and function of a standard keyboard. Students who have trouble typing can program specific functions, such as grouping keys together, to aid comprehension.
  2. Audio Books: Recorded books allow visually impaired students to listen and track text. Publications are available in a variety of download options, and some are free for schools.
  3. Personal FM system: A personally FM listening systems translates a speaker’s voice directly to the user’s ear. This tool is now very common and is being used in regular classrooms to help learning for all students.
  4. Speech recognition: Speech recognition programs work in conjunction with a word processor and can assist learners whose oral language ability is better than his writing skills.
  5. Talking calculator: A talking calculator has a built-in speech synthesizer that reads aloud each number, symbol, or operation key a user presses.
  6. Graphic organisers: Graphic organisers and outlining programs help users who have trouble organising and outlining information as they begin a new writing project.

To see some of these—and other—assistive technology devices in action, register for the Teachers Media International professional development service, which gives you access to more than 3,500 best-practice videos, articles, and learning packs.

What other tools would you recommend? Share in the comments!

Check back Monday for 7 Christmas decoration ideas you can do with your class. Have a great weekend!

~ The Teachers Media Team 

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