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We live in a hi-tech world where new technologies surface all the time. For some of us, new apps simplify life or provide a luxury — we can order our groceries from our cell phones so we don’t have to go to the grocery store. For others, they provide a solution to a problem or satisfy a necessity — they increase reading or hearing ability and promote learning in the case of a disability.
Tools that Are Making a Difference
Assistive Technology is any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether purchased from a store or personally customized — excluding medical devices or implants — that amplifies, sustains, or expands the functional capabilities of children with disabilities.
Today, assistive technologies can help students with certain disabilities learn more effectively. Ranging in sophistication from “low” technologies such as a graphic organizer worksheet to “high” technologies including cutting-edge software and smartphone apps, assistive technology is a growing and dynamic field.
Text to Speech
Text-to-speech (TTS) software is designed to help children who suffer from blindness, dyslexia, visual impairments, learning disabilities, autism, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that affect their ability to read. The technology scans and then reads the words to the student in a synthesized voice.
A mobile handheld device about the size and weight of a paperback book, Intel Reader uses TTS technology to read printed text aloud and features a high-resolution camera that captures printed text, converts it to digital text, and reads it to the user.
For students requiring a multi-sensory approach to literacy learning, this software program helps students who may have a non-print disability or may not typically consider a TTS program.
Some students have dysgraphia or disorders of written expressions, and graphic organizers are very useful in helping them organize their thoughts, map out a course of action, describe objects, and perform other tasks.
Assistive Listening Systems
According to the National Association for the Deaf, assistive listening systems can be used to by children who are hard of hearing or to enhance the reach and effectiveness of those with hearing aids and cochlear implants.
For students with mobility challenges, such as paralysis and fine motor skill disabilities, these systems allow for control of a computer, mobile device, or some other technological application by the child’s movement of the device (similar to a joystick) with his or her mouth.
Discover how innovative assistive technology changes people’s lives:
Meet Owen, the gamer in the 2018 holiday story, and learn what gaming means to him. It is clear — and remarkable — how an adaptive controller empowers Owen and other gamers in their struggle with limited mobility.