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What is Assistive Technology?

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by JulesDaulby, Sep 22, 2016.

  1. JulesDaulby

    JulesDaulby Occasional commenter

    Any technology which removes barriers for students. To allow them to achieve and to engender independence.

    If you have students who cannot access the curriculum and/or record their work effectively then technology may allow them to do this.

    I work with students in mainstream schools so the three assistive technologies I concentrate on are:

    Text to Speech - where text is read out by a computerised voice

    Speech to Text - where a student talks and the computer types their words

    and

    Concept Mapping - where a student can plan work in the form of a spider diagram or mind map.

    Understandably, people ask why we can't just teach students to read and write properly - well if this ever happens for all students I will be the first to jump up and down whooping (much of my job is to teach reading and writing) but until that time what are we doing to aid these students' achievements?

    What are we doing to help them access a text based curriculum if they can't read?

    What do we do until they catch up with their typically developing peers?

    If it's acceptable for students to benefit from a Teaching Assistant then why not a tablet or laptop?

    In my school, we're luckily enough to have a site licence for Dragon Naturally Speaking (speech to text) and ReadWriteGold (text to speech). This makes it easy for us to give students these facilities should they require them.

    Two problems always come up however; firstly, not wanting to look different and secondly, being able to practise enough to persuade them it will make life easier.

    Training is really important as Dragon particularly can be difficult to set up a profile and use with ease. I do know it works however, we had our first student use it for A'levels in June. Another student of mine from college has recently graduated with a first using Dragon. It has enabled him to shine, and without this software he would not have got to university.

    Here is my training presentation which you're welcome to use.

    https://prezi.com/m/b5qrgx5jfnnh/assistive-technology/

    If you know of any useful assistive technology or links, please let me know.
     
  2. moonpenny

    moonpenny Occasional commenter

    Hi Jules

    Do you feel that there is a particular age when it is good to start using speech to text and text to speech in the classroom for dyslexic children?

    Some parents and probably classroom teachers worry that using technology could impact on the progress of a child's handwritten work or reading skills (this is just something I have picked up generally from parents - however I see so many
    older stùdents who did not have access to this technology but would have really benefitted from being introduced to it earier)

    I really like sonnocent audio note taker software and their facebook page gives lots of study skills tip which are great for older students.
     
  3. JulesDaulby

    JulesDaulby Occasional commenter

    Great question.

    I always think assistive technology enhances literacy rather than replaces it. It doesn't need to be either or, more part of a strategic plan based on child.

    There are some lovely text to speech books out there to use with Clicker or the iPad - they're interactive - and I believe can help reading skills.

    Clicker apps or Clicker 7 are excellent for younger students and again, help with literacy rather than replace it.

    Dragon can be used from an early age but targeted basic literacy skills should still be a priority.

    Some children grow out of assistive technology as their skills improve; others will require it more as the text based curriculum becomes more demanding.
     

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