Assistive Technology Tools
Guest post by Ethan Miller
Assistive technology tools were designed to help anyone with a learning disability. Disorders such as dyslexia (reading), dysgraphia (math), and dyscalculia (math) are some of the more well known learning disabilities. They often go unnoticed, especially if they are not diagnosed at young age. For example, Steven Spielberg’s dyslexia went undiagnosed until his 60s. His struggles in early education are well documented online.
Thanks to technological advances, these once insurmountable obstacles in learning can now be tackled with assistive technology tools and digital devices. They support students (and adults) with learning disabilities as they are designed specifically to target the area of learning a student is struggling with. Here are five tools that do just that.
What is it? Proofreading Software
Helps with: Writing and Spelling
Ginger is a proofreading software that helps students with dyslexia to spell and write. Its spell checking tool goes the extra mile by suggesting words after considering the context of a sentence. This is unlike regular spell check where similar words are suggested. Other features include word prediction, sentence re-phraser and text reader.
Read and Write Gold / Google
What is it? Text Reader
Helps with: Reading
Packed with features, Read and Write aims to help students with reading and comprehension. Features that help with this are Text to Speech where the text is highlighted as it is read aloud. The Screenshot Reader enables even text within images to be read aloud. Speechmaker converts text to an audio file so that students can listen rather than read the text. The DAISY reading technology is beneficial for students who are visually impaired.
What is it? Sip-and-Puff System
Helps with: Mobility
Jouse3 is a sip-and-puff system that can be used by kids whose mobility is restricted. They can use the device, which is similar to a drinking straw, with their mouth to control gadgets like computers and mobile phones. Using this tool, kids can play games, draw, and perform other activities. Its use is similar to that of the mouse and keyboard.
What is it? Speech Recognition Software
Helps with: Math
MathTalk is useful for students with motor skill and visual disabilities, as well as those with dyscalculia. The voice-to-text feature enables students to speak into the microphone; this is where the voice recognition software kicks in. It also has a braille translator that translates math to braille, and an electronic math worksheet which is easier to use than paper. Topics covered include arithmetic, pre-algebra and algebra, statistics, trigonometry and calculus, as well as graphing.
What is it? Smartpen by Livescribe
Helps with: Listening
Echo, a smartpen by Livescribe, helps students who have trouble listening, to take notes and record talks, and later organize them. Once that is done, students can play it back at varying speeds and adjust the volume. The recording can be played back as many times as necessary and you can even bookmark important sections.
These are just few of the tools available in the market to help students with learning disabilities. As assistive technology grows more sophisticated, it is easier to dismantle barriers to learning.
We only highlighted five tools here. There are thousands of additional tools out there. Let us know your favorite assistive technology tool in the comments below.
Ethan Miller, the guest author for this post, has a fantastic blog over at https://essaysonline.wordpress.com/. He covers quite a variety of topics related to essays, grammar, and writing in general.