Assistive Technologies
Assistive technologies are needed to help students with disabilities succeed in the
classroom. Disabilities range from cognitive to physical to sensory to even, gifts and talents.
The least forms of disabilities are mild disabilities. Mild disabilities include cognitive,
academic, and social-emotional characteristics. These students understand the technology
processes, but have major issues with retaining information. To help these students,
teachers have to develop activities that require the students to be more creative, and
promote higher level thinking skills to complete assignments(Roblyer 406). Software
programs such as JumpStart Kindergarten Reading, Simon Sounds It Out, and Fastforward
are commonly utilized to remediate students in reading with mild disabilities. Things such
as a Quicktionary reading pen and Neo writer are utilized to help students with words and
sounds. Calculators, mobile apps, such as Math and Math Racer, can promote growth and
learning in math for students with mild disabilities.
Students with moderate and severe cognitive disabilities have difficulty with basic
everyday functions that include personal hygiene, shopping, and using public
transportation. These students cannot properly use technology devices due to their
disabilities. Teachers have to be familiar with alternative ways and devices that will assist
students to use the computer or other devices since they have severe disabilities with daily
functioning (Roblyer 408). Software such as Time, Money, & Fractions On-Track, and sites
like www.jubalearning.com are promoted to help students with severe disabilities.
Alternative keyboards, such as the Intellikeys keyboard can be used to make customized
keyboards for these students. Keys can be enlarged, irrelevant keys can be removed, and
multistep functions can be combined into one single key press.
Students with physical disabilities have many problems with motor movements and
mobility. These students have difficulties with gross and fine motor movements and usually
occur with the physical disabilities(Roblyer 408). Assistive technology devices help these
students with daily transitions. Students with severe physical disabilities often use power
wheelchairs operated by a joystick. This device helps move the wheelchair in all directions
and controls the pointer on the computer screen. The computer screens usually are
controlled by switches. These help to get input to the computer, as well as, activating
environmental control systems. ORCCA technology (www.orcca.com) provides many
useful tips and suggestions for helping students with physical disabilities.
Another form of disability that affects some students is sensory disabilities. Sensory
disabilities involve hearing and vision impairments. Some students have partial vision and/
or hearing losses, while others are have complete loss of vision, and/or hearing loss. To
assist the students who are labeled blind, there are specific technological devices that can
help them (Roblyer 409). These devices include canes and sensor technological devices,
tools to convert printed material using a scanner called the optical character recognition
(OCR), and screen readers. Screen readers are types of software that reads material that
appears on a computer screen. Different types of screen readers include SuperNova Screen
Reader and Jaws for Windows. Other helpful websites are www.visioncue.com, and
www.yourdolphin.com.
Students who are considered partially blind can see some information when
presented in larger fonts. For this, a closed-circuit television (CCTV) is often used to
magnify words to where the students can read them. Deaf students need very few
modifications to use technological devices. They can use computers without difficulty. One
common thing used today in classrooms for these students, is the FM amplification systems.
Teachers wear wireless microphones and students with hearing impairments wear
receivers that amplify the teacher’s voice(Roblyer 409). This helps with hearing and
attention. Websites to assist students with hearing problems are available for help. Some
include www.telesensory.com and www.audioenhacement.com.
Students who are considered at-risk students tend to be unsuccessful in their school
academics. They are not identified as disabled, but their academic levels are consistent with
students with disabilities. Their learning impairments can range from difficulty
remembering and writing things, sequencing, problems with reading fluency and
comprehension on their grade level, math computations, and lack of motivation in school
work(Roblyer 409). For these students, there are many assistive technological advances
that will help these individuals, depending on the at-risk behavior known. Websites such
as, www.iping.com is a reminder service, www.windows.ucar.edu provides levels of
instructional materials, and www.webmath.com provides online math calculators for math.
These students sometimes use a predictive word processor to help with expressing
themselves to others at school.
Lastly, students who are classified as having gifts and talents are students who have
high academic capabilities, are intelligent, creative, artistic, and have leadership qualities.
These students need services that are not provided in the general everyday classroom.
Pyryt’s five P’s (pace, process, passion, product, and peer) provide guidance and direction
for schools with students who are gifted and talented (Roblyer 411). These students need
highly organized projects that allow them to be challenged and self-directed. Tools such as
multimedia presentations, web page designs, podcasts, and electronic portfolios provide
excellent ways for students to document their learning experiences. Sites such as,
www.tip.duke.edu and www.hoagiesgifted.org are good resources for gifted students to
partake in. These students need to be challenged and need to be presented with activities
that provoke self-learning and discovery.
Students with disabilities and talents are in every classroom in today’s society. As
teachers, we have to identify these students and provide the best education possible in our
classrooms. In order to do this, we have to utilize assistive technological practices to help
students succeed. The assistive technology that is present today is very beneficial to
students, both academically and socially. They help to build students who are well-rounded
who can function in the outside world.
References
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching.
Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon Publishers