Assistive technology helps many students and teachers – with both learning as well as attention issues in the classroom. These technologies can assist with your current strategies in the classroom, and will never replace high quality teaching instruction. Assistive technology can make a big impact. Not all assistive technology tools are high-tech, there are many tips and tools available. Here are some ideas that members of SimpleK12’s teacher learning community suggest when using assistive technology in your classroom.
1. Educate Students With Disabilities Using The Internet
For students with vision impairments, screen readers or braille display devices are two assistive technology tools that can be used to read text they find online or for online chats. They can also use note takers to communicate via e-mail with the person they are interviewing. For students with hearing impairments, suggest that they use animated signing characters to view video from the school.
2. Assistive Technology Can Assist with Visually Impaired Students
To help a student with significant vision problems read the content on the Web sites, make sure the computer he or she uses is equipped with a screen magnifier. Assign students the task of creating a class newspaper. Each student can serve a different function on the team. Students with vision impairments might use a note-taker to write stories about class life. Once the stories are written, use braille translation software to convert the braille to text in the computer so that it can be incorporated with the stories from sighted students.
3. Try Technology In The Special Education Classroom
Set up computer stations and rotate students through the stations so they get a chance to experience each one. If needed, incorporate touch screens so that all students have access to the same information. Assistive technology tools like these can help students work around their challenges, while playing to their strengths.
4. Incorporate Technology Into The ESL Classroom
Ask your students who are learning English as a second language to write an autobiography and then read it aloud to the class. They can use available ESL software to write the text, and then they can hear it read aloud by the program so that they can edit it accordingly.
5. Lead Group Activities
In a home economics class, store the step-by-step instructions for baking a dessert on a sequenced-message voice output device. Allow a verbally-challenged student to lead the class in preparing the dessert by incrementally replaying the steps to the recipe using the device.
6. Use the Internet To Educate Students With Disabilities
Ask students to research the college of their choice on the Internet. Ask that they incorporate interviews done online with students or faculty from the school. For students with vision impairments, a screen reader or braille display device can be used to read text they find online or for online chats.
They can also use note takers to communicate via e-mail with the person they are interviewing. For students with hearing impairments, suggest that they use animated signing characters to view video from the school.
7. Promote Learning For A Student With Physical Difficulties
Ask students to create a travel brochure for the planet of their choice. Students with physical challenges can use an alternative pointing device such as a switch or head pointer to navigate the Web for research about their planet. They can then create the brochure using an on-screen keyboard or voice recognition software.
8. Provide Equitable Learning For Students With Hearing Impairments
Using animated signing character software; create a lecture about the first railroad system in America for students in your class. Make the lecture available to hearing impaired students while you give the lecture to others in the class. Use an amplification system for those students listening to the lecture. After the lecture, show students a video about how the first trains and railroads were built and make sure to enable closed captioning.
9. Educate Yourself on Assistive Technology
In order to get a better idea of the challenges facing your students, watch some of the available special needs videos and use some of the programs for teachers. Then, use the available software to create an individual education plan for your students. You can use the same software to establish their goals and track their progress. Have a meeting with your school administration or special education department to find out what assistive technologies are available at your school.
10. Assistive Technology Can Help Students With Writing Difficulties
Administer a pop quiz consisting of essay questions covering the jazz movement in music history. To help students, who have writing difficulties due to physical disabilities, set them up on a computer with a word processing application and word prediction software to complete their quizzes. Also, there are many voice recognition apps available that help students dictate their writing. For example, students could start a writing project by verbally dictating it in dictation program, then edit and complete the writing project from there.
11. Computer Access Aids
To augment your lesson plan on the solar system, allow students to participate in educational games or online activities that teach about the different planets. To help a physically impaired student interact with the computer, make sure he or she is set up on a computer equipped with speech recognition software, another assistive technology, that lets the computer know what actions the student wants to take.
12. Let Your Needs Be Known
Use a single-message voice output device to record a generic message that can be used throughout the day. For instance, “May I have a break, please?” could be recorded and used throughout the day to indicate different needs. In the middle of a lesson or a group activity, it might indicate the student needs to use the restroom. Or, in the middle of recess, it could indicate that he or she is tired and needs to take time out.
13. Participate In Group Activities
On a single-message voice output device, record a repetitive line from a familiar fairy tale, such as “The Three Little Pigs,” or song, such as “Old MacDonald” or “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” Allow verbally-impaired students to use the device to join in as the class reads the fairy tale or sings the song.