Assistive Technology (AT) is an important topic, and an even larger category for all of the ranges and needs a student may need. These technologies are not to give a student who is struggling an upper hand, but make them at the same equal level as their peers. Assistive technology can be something as simple as a highlighter, or as complicated as a speaking device. For each unique learner, there is a unique tool they might need to succeed. As a teacher it is also key to make these students feel that they are not identified because of the use of technology, but being assisted with them. Also it is important to not stereotype that all students who might need assistive technology are students in special education. Breaking down students who might be left brained versus right brained, will give us insight on what tools they might need to succeed.
Some examples of low-tech devices, which are also conveniently cheap and easily accessible, include:
- highlighters, special pens, pencil grips, magnifiers, larger printed text, etc.
Some examples of high-tech devices, which require usually school involvement and money, include:
- speaking devices, headsets, hearing aids, wheel chairs or scooters, etc.
“Learning disabilities do not go away with time. However, assistive technology can help children with learning disabilities leverage their strengths and work around or compensate for specific learning problems. These supports can be key to helping users become more independent in school and throughout life—on the job and in activities for daily living.”
Lahm and Morissette (1994) identified areas of instruction in which AT can assist students. Six of these are described here: (1) organization, (2) note taking, (3) writing, (4) academic productivity, (5) access to reference and general educational materials, and (6) cognitive assistance. (education.com) They break down not only the areas for AT but give examples of the types of organization tools and handouts teachers can use. This article helps special educators understand how to create these customized instructional materials so we meet the needs of our students. These assistive technologies and innovations have affected teaching and learning strategies to balance the weaknesses and strengths of our 20th century classrooms.
To further your knowledge about assistive technology is the great article which breaks down all the different type or models of assistive technology is Eric Digests.
Assistive Technology for Students with Mild Disabilities . (n.d.). Retrieved September 4, 2014, from http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Assistive_Technology/?page=2
Assistive Technology Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved September 5, 2014. http://www.ncld.org/students-disabilities/assistive-technology-education
Assistive Technology for Students with Mild Disabilities. ERIC Digest. (n.d.). Retrieved September 4, 2014, from http://www.ericdigests.org/1995-2/mild.htm
Lahm, E., & Morrissette, S. (1994, April). Zap 'em with assistive technology. Paper presented at the annual meeting of The Council for Exceptional Children, Denver, CO.
Assistive Technology Photo. http://www4.esc13.net/uploads/assistivetech/images/at.gif