Assistive Learning Technology in the Classroom
For those that have difficulty listening, remembering, or processing spoken words, such as a lecture in the classroom there are a variety of listening devices available.
- Tape Recorders -Tape recorders help by allowing the recorded audio to be played back at a later time and repeatedly if necessary.
- FM Listening Systems - The speaker wears a microphone and the listener wears a headset. This helps students with mild or moderate hearing loss to better understand lectures.
Assistive technology for math includes devices to help with aligning, calculating, or copying problems into columns.
- Electronic Math Worksheets - For students that have difficulty copying down math problems with a pencil and paper, or aligning these problems on the page, the MathPad can be used. MathPad, by Intellitools, requires a teacher or para-educator to enter the problem into the tool.
- Talking Calculators - Each time a number or an operand is pressed on a talking calculator, a built-in speech synthesizer lets the user know what was pressed. This helps users to verify that they have selected the correct buttons. Talking calculators are very affordable and many offer adjustable volume, clock, and alarm features as well.
Technology can help in the area of organization by enabling users to track their schedule, due dates, deadlines, manage the days events, or remember important tasks.
For those who struggle with reading, assistive technology helps present the written word in a different format. The most commonly used devices are those that synthesize written text into the spoken word.
- Optical Character Recognition - For those that cannot read the written word, optical character recognition is a computer aided scanning device that reads written characters. It is often combined with a speech synthesizer, and reads the word aloud through computer generated speech. Scanning the page of a text generates computer synthesized speech allowing the user to hear almost any text in audio format.
- Other Alternative Text Formats - Audio books and books available in braille are an example of alternative forms of text. These technologies can be useful by allowing those that cannot identify written text to read and learn in another format.
For those who have difficulty writing, there are tools available which allow a student to dictate their answers rather than write them down. Other tools include spelling or grammar checks and word prediction. This type of technology is used regularly by those without disabilities.
Assistive learning technologies can help people succeed in the classroom by assisting and improving their capabilities in their areas of weakness. If one of the above areas is holding someone back, one of these devices may help them succeed.