Sunday, September 7, 2014

Assistive Technology in the Classroom

As a special education major, the differences we face everyday are drilled into our heads. However, these differences are all in the same for general education majors. They struggle just as much as we do to find certain tricks or tolls to help our student further their education. It is no longer about focusing on what a student can not do, but focus on what we can help provide for them to make them as great as we know they can be. 

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.
Not only are these items easy to obtain, but there is no need to have the teachers or students trained in using them.

Some examples of high-tech devices, which require usually school involvement and money, include:
  • speaking devices, headsets, hearing aids, wheel chairs or scooters, etc.
These items need training of how to use and operate, and also are paid by the school or family in some cases.

“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. ( 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

Assistive Technology Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved September 5, 2014.

Assistive Technology for Students with Mild Disabilities. ERIC Digest. (n.d.). Retrieved September 4, 2014, from

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.

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