Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Common Assistive Technology Devices

There are so many assistive technology devices out there available, how can an educator choose which one would be best for their student?  Listed below are some common assistive technology devices, including a description of what the device/or software does or how it works, and who would benefit most from this device/software.  Some videos and pictures are included to help in the understanding of the device/software.  Not all the devices listed below are only for students with disabilities some have a Universal Design that allows them to be valuable and beneficial to all students. 

Word Prediction Software
This software predicts the word that the student intends to type, these predictions are based on spelling, syntax, and frequent/recent use.  This tool benefits students who struggle in writing. 
Below readers can find a video (the left) of an Assistive Technology Specialist discussing and demonstrating the a word prediction software.  To the right is an picture showing a screen shot of what a word prediction software may look like including the words that are able to be chosen for that sentence.  

Talking Word Processor Software
This software provides speech feedback as the student writes, it echos each letter that is typed and each word when a space bar is pressed.  This program works well wit students who experience writing and reading difficulty.

Below readers may view a VIDEO TUTORIAL demonstrating and describing a talking word processor software.  This tutorial was very useful for me.  When I am researching a particular software or device there are many out there that are difficult for me to fully understand and get a picture of how it is used and this software is one of them.  The tutorial was easy to follow and listen to, the video was clear and the software was easily visible for me to read and understand.  The speaker on the tutorial spoke clearly and identified many features of the software that someone needs to be aware of.  The picture below shows the highlighted text which indicates a portion of the sentence that will be repeated in speech.
Naturally Speaking Voice recognition software
This software allows someone to dictate speech into written text.  This software is used best by students who exhibit difficulties in writing.
Below readers can find a video demonstrating an automatic speech recognition software.  The speaker says some phrases including punctuation and the software types them into the document.

Scan and read software
The software allows someone to scan a piece of paper into a computer, the software will then translate the document into a digital format so the document can be read and edited.This software can be useful to many individuals including those with low vision or blindness, person with a learning disability, dyslexia, and those with physical impairments.
The video below demonstrates a scan and read software.  The document is scanned into the computer and then have it read back to you.  The document is read to you and the text is on the screen.

Books on cd
Printed book are provided in a digital or cd version to allow readers to listen to written material.  Books on cd are most valuable to individuals with low vision or blindness, phyical impairments or reading difficulties.  Books on cd are an example of Universal Design, because they can be used by a large population of individuals not just those with a disability.
Below the video shows an example of the book Treasure Island as an audio book.  

Multisensory educational software
 This software uses all pathways of learning simultaneously.  When instruction is delivered all three ways together the whole brain is working and information will get placed into long-term memory.  This software can be beneficial to all students but is most valuable to students with dyslexia.
This video below shows an example of TouchMath Software for 2nd grade.  The video shows an example of basic addition using regrouping.

Adapted keyboard
Some adapted keyboards have been redesigned and adapted to fit the needs to a specific disability.  There are one-handed keyboards, large tactile keyboards, alphabetic keyboards, virtual on screen keyboards.  All the keyboards available can help a multitude of individuals some of which include physically disabled, visually impaired, and learning disabled.    

The video below is an example of an adapted keyboard to meet the needs of the individual who is demonstrating its use.

Portable word processor
This is an alternative device to a laptop computer.  This device allows text to be uploaded or downloaded to and from a computer.  The word processing program allows the student to edit and correct work more effectively. This device can be helpful to students who struggle in writing, or have poor handwriting students with attention deficits can benefit from this device as well.
The video below was constructed by a professional writer who describes the benefits to using a portable word processor. 

Assisted Literacy Software
This software is a program that ensures a foundation in early reading skills.  It provides students practice with phonemic awareness and alphabetic knowledge.  This software can help all students in the classroom to ensure that the foundations of reading are secure.  
The video below shows a student and his tutor working on phonemic awareness skills with the K-PALS software. 


Voice Output Communication Device

These devices are designed with communication being the primary goal.  There are text-based programs and symbol- based programs, that store frequently used words or phrases.These devices are used most by individuals who have unintelligible speech or unable to speak.
The video below is an overview of voice output communication devices, examples and advantages and disadvantages.  

Type to Learn Software to teach keyboarding skills

This software provides typing instruction for grades K-12.  It includes a demonstration, typing practice and assessment.  It reinforces row positioning and finger placement.  This program can be useful to all students including students with disabilities to help them become more efficient at using a keyboard.  
The video below demonstrates a step by step in the Type To Learn 3 program.  The speaker informs us that once you complete the first lesson, the games will open up and become available. 

Electronic Touch Tablet
This is a one piece mobile device, which is available in a variety of sizes.  Most keyboarding is completed on the screen itself, but attachable/wireless keyboards are available.  The device allows software and applications to be downloaded directly onto the device.  The applications available are limitless from speech therapy tools, to math, and reading and writing. This device is currently being used in schools.  It is used by all students including those with disabilities. 
The video below shows clips of Ipads being used in schools in many different content areas with many different students.  

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