The use of technology in our classrooms today are becoming more and more present in everything our students do. We create lessons and activities using all different types of technology, apps and devices. The majority of our students can use these different digital platforms with the greatest of ease; they use them almost, if not everyday of their lives!
But, what about the students in our classroom who can’t use the same technologies as easily as their classmates? Do we count them out of the lesson? Do we exclude them from having fun too, just because they don’t possess the same skills and talents as everybody else? Absolutely not!
Our students with disabilities deserve to learn, enjoy and have as much fun as their classmates. They deserve the same opportunity to discover something new, to have their minds be open to new ideas, and to push their potential to the limits. The way that they get there, the path that they take to achieve greatness, however, just might be a little different.
Below, I have compiled a list of ten excellent assistive technologies that our students with special needs can use in our classrooms so that they don’t miss out on a thing!
- Text-to-Speech Software: for those students who struggle with reading, this type of software can scan words and then read them back to the reader. Different types of programs can come in a wide variety of languages that meet the needs of your student.
- Speech-to-Text Software: most commonly found as an app for your iPad or tablet, this type of technology allows the student to speak what he or she wishes to type, and the app will dictate the speech. Many of our students have wonderful ideas that they are just not able to get out on paper too easily. With this app, they won’t have as much of a problem anymore!
- SoundingBoard App: this app is geared towards those students who have communication difficulties. This app is designed for the iPad and lets students use many of the preloaded symbols, words and sayings to communicate their needs and wants. What is great is that students can edit, record and customize their own words and sayings as well.
- Electronic Math Worksheets: this software allows students to ‘organize, align, and work through math problems on a computer screen’. Numbers that appear on the screen can also be read aloud to further assist the student. (http://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/electronic-math-worksheets/)
5. Alternative Keyboards: designed to allow students who would normally find typing on a keyboard very difficult, alternative keyboards provide overlays to your standard keyboard that customize the appearance and function. Many of these keyboards are color-coded, have graphics instead of text and remove some unnecessary input choices. (http://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/alternative-keyboards/)
6. Graphic Organizers: used for those students who struggle with writing and organizing thoughts and words. These can be provided in paper or digital format.
7. Sip and Puff Systems: designed for those students who have mobility issues. Students who are in a wheelchair and have very limited use of their extremities can control a joystick for a computer and even type on a keyboard with a ‘sip’ or a ‘puff’! (http://online.alvernia.edu/5-assistive-technology-tools-that-are-making-a-difference/)
8. Ginger: Proofreading App: designed for those students who struggle again with writing. This app is available on a tablet, phone or desktop. Some of the features include grammar check, word prediction, text-to-speech and a coach that helps with previous mistakes.
9.FM Listening Systems: designed for those hearing-impaired students, or students with auditory processing issues. These systems reduce classroom background noise and amplify what the teacher is saying.
10. Optical Character Recognition: students who struggle with reading can take pictures of their worksheets or book pages and use an OCR to digitally read aloud what the image or picture says. They can also scan documents from the internet as well.
These are just a few of the many ways our students with special needs can be included in our daily lessons and activities.
Want to read more on different ways to reach ALL learners in your classroom? Follow my blog here for more information!