Easy ways to bring Assistive Technology into your Classroom

Computer programs and tablet applications that give text-to-speech, speech-to-text, word prediction capabilities, and graphic organizers are examples of assistive technology that can benefit students with learning impairments (e.g., Inspiration).

All students, with and without learning difficulties, can benefit from free or low-cost technologies that help them better access course information.

Teachers spend a lot of time and effort planning activities in the classroom that encourage kids to read, write, communicate, play, move, and socialize. They attempt to provide equal opportunity for all kids to learn and grow, but children with disabilities may experience challenges in participating in classroom activities. To overcome these obstacles, instructors can use a collection of tools known as assistive technology, which were created to enable these kids to participate completely and organically in inclusive learning settings.

Assistive technology (AT) is defined as “any item, piece of equipment, or product system that is utilized to augment, maintain, or improve functional capacities of persons with disabilities, whether purchased commercially off the shelf, adapted, or customized.” AT consists of a diverse set of no-tech, low-tech, and high-tech tools. Some assistive technology tools are free, while others are rather priced. Many teachers use various tools that can be classified as AT, even if they aren’t aware of it.

Many Easy Ways To Include Assistive Technology

The video closed captioning:

Closed-captioning in all videos, including YouTube and GoNoodle, can help students make connections between text and audio representations of language by adding or turning it on.

Captioning is a free and simple assistive technology tool: simply press the CC icon beneath a video.

For people who have trouble digesting speech and auditory components of visual media, closed captioning fills in the gaps. It is critical for children who are deaf or hard of hearing, and it can help kids improve their reading abilities.

Graphic organizers:

Graphic organizers are a low-tech AT tool that may be used to provide writing help to kids with dysgraphia, executive function issues, and other learning difficulties in elementary, middle, and high school.

Students with executive function issues who have trouble organizing their thoughts and ideas, for example, might benefit from graphic organizers, which “clarify implicit linkages present in the text in a manner that text alone may not.” Graphic organizers can also help kids with dysgraphia, a condition that impacts handwriting and fine motor skills, word spacing, and the capacity to express ideas and thoughts on paper in general.

This tool can assist struggling writers in demonstrating their knowledge and organizing their thoughts before beginning to write, making writing less scary. Having printed graphic organizers available in your classroom for all kids is a simple approach to providing struggling writers of all ages with an assistive technology tool.

Classroom setting:

It is beneficial if teachers can give a range of seating alternatives in the classroom to assist pupils to focus their attention to learn. Bean Bag Chairs, yoga balls, wobble stools, carpet squares, and wedges are examples of supported seating for active sitting, which is defined as “seating that naturally encourages us to stay in motion, rather than passively relaxing into a slump or rigidly holding a ‘proper’ position.”

My daughter’s fifth-grade classroom offers a range of seating options, including an antique wooden train bench with cushions, which is one of her favorites. A reading zone with beach chairs was set up in her third-grade classroom. Metal chairs organized in rows don’t have to be the only sitting option in our classrooms, and incorporating students in the seating design process—for example, by allowing them to assist arrange the space or define norms for utilizing the options—can increase interest and engagement.

Visual timers:

For kids with executive function issues or autism, time might be abstract. When a teacher announces, “You have 10 minutes left to work on this test,” students may get apprehensive.

Students can better prepare for transitions and reduce exam anxiety by using a visual timer, which is a gadget that makes the notion of time simpler to grasp and monitor by offering a visible indicator of the time remaining and elapsed for assignments.

During scheduled class exercises, projects, or assessments, teachers can display a physical visible timer on their desk or somewhere in the front of the classroom, or show one on an interactive whiteboard.

Students with print difficulties, such as dyslexia, may find it difficult to complete written tasks using speech-to-text software. If your school utilizes Google Docs, however, all of your students—disabled and not—have access to a valuable free feature called voice typing, which can be found under the Tools tab. (Dragon Dictation and VoiceNote are two related programs worth checking out.)

Speech-to-text is a type of assistive technology that allows students—and teachers—to speak into their computers and watch their words appear on the screen as text without having to type. I’ve discovered that both disabled and non-disabled pupils like utilizing this program.

Teachers may choose to set up a voice typing station in a section of the classroom where the computer microphone will not pick up classroom noises. Voice typing should not be stigmatized if all pupils have the opportunity to rotate through this area.

About the article

Computer programs and tablet applications that give text-to-speech (e.g., Kurzweil 3000, speech-to-text, word prediction capabilities, and graphic organizers) are examples of assistive technology that can benefit students with learning impairments (e.g., Inspiration).

All students, with and without learning difficulties, can benefit from free or low-cost technologies that help them better access course information. In this article, we discussed some easy ways to bring assistive technology into your classroom.

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