Top 10 Assistive Technologies

Assistive Technology for Learning (ATL) is a device that is used in learning environments to overcome barriers for students with physical, sensory, cognitive, speech, learning or behavioural exceptionalities to actively engage in learning and to achieve their individual learning goals.

Like other technologies, ATL ranges from simple tools to complex systems. It could be as simple as providing a pencil grip for writing or as complex as a computer with screen reading software for reading and learning.

The primary goal of the ATL initiative is to support all students, including those with special needs, in achieving the learning outcomes of the curriculum or their individual learning goals.

This article focuses on the top 10 most popular assistive technologies for everyday classroom use.


1. Bionic Ear:

Bionic ear is an assistive technology that is useful for all students with hearing impairment. The teacher wears a microphone cuffed to his/her shirt. The student wears a listening device, which is attached to their ear. Teachers will never have to scream to get their point across. All students will be able to understand with this technology.

To date, tests have all been done on cadavers, so while researchers know that the device works (the sound signals are being transmitted to the right parts of the ear and vibrating the umbo), that doesn’t tell anyone what the experience might be like for students wearing the device. Tests in living patients are still a few years away.

There is also still some work to be done in enhancing the microphone, which has some trouble with lower-frequency, quieter sounds. The charger for the device would also still be external, just as in conventional cochlear implants.


2. WordQ

The program recommends words students can use when writing. It also offers spoken feedback to help students find mistakes. The program is used by children of all ages and has a set vocabulary for all levels. Overall, it is an excellent text to speech program that benefits students with special needs.

The software is used by students from primary school to college, by CEOs of major corporations, journalists and many more. How they use it is completely personal to their needs – a total advantage. Fortunately, WordQ is flexible enough to adapt to the users’ needs.


3. Talk Pad

This is a picture schedule for students with disabilities such as ASD. Some students with ASD have trouble following a schedule that is different than their normal routines. Teachers have to use repetitive verbal prompts to keep the students on track. The talk pad is a device which pre-records 3 steps for those students that have time management and organizational issues. Picture schedules are there to compliment the verbal cues.


4. Kurzweil:

The program provides reading and writing material which help people (students) with vision problems and learning disabilities such as dyslexia. There are many scanned and copied material and books on Kurzweil.


5. Watchminder:

This device is a wristwatch used by students with learning disabilities. It helps them organize and manage their time. It also makes sure that students are on top of things and not slowing behind. For those who are hard of hearing, the device has a vibrator.


6. SpeakQ:

The program is compatible with speech recognition. Students, who are physically disabled or slow at writing, can use this program to dictate what they wish to write. Overall, it is an excellent assistive technology; however, the computer takes time to get used to the voice speaking to it. The computer may unintentionally make errors.


7. Kidspiration:

The program helps, young students with learning disabilities and language learning issues, organize their thoughts, material and ideas. The pictures, texts, numbers and spoken words are used to advance students’ vocabulary, word recognition, comprehension, reasoning and problem solving skills.


8. Inspiration:

The program is similar to Kidspiration but is appropriate for students in intermediate and senior levels in education. Both programs can be used by adolescents, but Inspiration will be more useful.


9. PDA/Mobile Learning:

Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) is used for digital note taking purposes. It also features an organizer which helps keep students manage and organize their time effectively. Textbooks are now offered on many PDAs to eliminate the need to carry heavy textbooks.


10. “Step-by-Step Communicator”:

Students with disabilities often have trouble interacting or around social situations. They get lost in words trying to say what is on their mind. This program allows them to record 75 second messages they can use as a means for communication.


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