“For most people, technology makes things easier. For people with disabilities, technology makes things possible.” According to the WHO globally, more than one billion people need one or more assistive technology products. Moreover, the WHO states that assistive technology “allows people to live healthy, productive, independent, dignified lives and participate in education, the labor market, and civic life.” Assistive technology has traditionally been designed to be used by individuals with learning disabilities; much of this technology has proved useful to all of us.
What is Assistive Technology?
Assistive technology refers to devices and services used to increase, maintain, or improve students with disabilities capabilities. The phrase assistive technology might make us think of computers and software. However, assistive technology can be high tech or very low tech but just as helpful. An example of low tech assistive technology is pencil-grips (the molded plastic grips that slip over a pencil). Assistive technology (AT) helps people with a range of disabilities, from cognitive problems to physical impairment. This article will focus specifically on assistive technology (AT) for children with learning disabilities (LD).
What is Assistive Technology for Learning Difficulties?
Assistive technology (AT) for kids with learning difficulties is defined as any device piece of equipment or system that aids students bypass, workaround, or compensate for their specific learning deficits. It is essential to mention that assistive technology (AT) does not cure learning difficulties; however, it helps children reach their full potential. This is because assistive technology focuses on the child’s strengths and bypasses the areas that the child struggles with. Let’s take the following example, consider a student has reading difficulty, but s/he has good listening skills the student here can benefit from using audiobooks. Using assistive technology helps compensate for students’ areas of weakness and learning deficits; however, it does not substitute for students receiving remedial instruction to improve their learning deficits. A student with reading difficulties can use audiobooks in addition to remedial reading software.
What Types of Learning Difficulties Does Assistive Technology Help with?
Assistive technology can help with various kinds of learning difficulties. Students with language-based learning disabilities can use assistive technology to bypass the mechanical aspects of writing. Students can use software that helps with checking spelling and grammar, and this allows the student to focus on the message and ideas that they are trying to communicate. Speech to text and text to speech, word prediction, and graphic organizers are four software functions that are beneficial to students with language-based learning difficulties. Generally, there are assistive technology tools to help students who struggle with the following:
There is a wide variety of tools that help children that struggle with reading. Each individual tool might work differently; however, they all operate using the same premise. They all present text as speech.
There is a wide range of assistive technology tools that help students struggle with writing. These tools vary from ones that help students bypass the actual physical task of writing to others, which help with spelling, grammar, punctuation usage, and organization.
- Organization and Memory
Assistive technology can help plan, schedule, take notes, and create task lists. These tools help with storing, managing, and retrieving such information.
Assistive technology for math is designed to help students that struggle with organizing, aligning, computing, and copying math problems down on paper. Softwares help through visual and audio support, enabling students to set up better and calculate math problems.
There is assisstive technology designed to help individuals that have problems processing and remembering spoken language. These tools can be used in a variety of settings, such as classrooms, lectures, and meetings with multiple individuals.
Creating Resilient Minds
Emotional and academic frustrations can lead to low motivation and lead to students not achieving the desired learning outcomes. Learning difficulties tend to affect student confidence and self-worth. Children that struggle at school with learning difficulties are often dependent. They tend to heavily depend on parents, siblings, friends, and teachers for their studies. Assistive technology can increase children’s independence and self-reliance, which leads to an increase in confidence and self-esteem. Using assistive technology helps students achieve success while working independently and helps build strong minds.
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