Technology Meets Special Needs

Once upon a time there were students with learning disabilities who were forced to learn in a separate class away from all of their peers. Exiled because they were ‘different’. Today, assistive technology has opened doors for learning to everyone.

To make it easier for special needs students to learn, teachers are relying on the use of technology in the classroom more than ever.

When the first iPad was released it took awhile to catch on. People didn’t need it. They found a need for it. Who would have thought that the iPad is just one of many tools that would be used more and more by children with visual, speech, and communication problems? And it isn’t just the tablet technology itself that is helping.

It’s also the Apps. Lots of Apps. All aimed at helping these students compensate depending on their particular disability. See, there really is an app for everything!

About 12% of American students have disabilities ranging from mild or moderate to more severe physical and cognitive. These students may experience more learning challenges than their classmates, but given the right tools, learning disabled students can achieve the same success as their peers.

Some might think it’s a little much—a little pricey. But to the teachers using it, a touch-screen tablet is a priceless investment. Teachers can also customize each student’s tablet with different apps to enhance their individualized education plans. Oh, did you know that? No? Well now you do.

Schools lacking in budget shouldn’t feel shortchanged either. There are many overlooked tools already in place. For example Macintosh operating systems offer Universal Access, a set of accessibility-focused monitor and keyboard settings designed to help users who have visual and auditory challenges.

How are your students benefitting from assistive technology? All of them?

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Kelly Batke

Kelly is the self-confessed technology laggard who works in technology. The good news is she is slowly reaching late adopter status. Kelly enjoys learning and writing about the psychology behind technology—as in why do we buy what we buy, and how does that impact our environment?