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Speech to Text Software and Dragon Naturally Speaking
Speech-to-Text software has a special place in the special education classroom. This type of software can help students who have trouble with spelling and writing, such as those with dyslexia or students who have physical disabilities. Essentially, students speak into a microphone and the software will type out the word for you.
One favorite is Dragon Naturally Speaking, which even has a special program for accessibility. This program is helpful for students who have difficulty writing. With this program, students can dictate what they wish to say, eliminating the mechanics of writing and permitting focus on developing their writing skills. This program is also great for students who have physical disabilities. Students can speak to the computer and tell it what they want it to do; this allows students to use the computer who wouldn't be otherwise able to do so. This program will also read computer text aloud, which is great for students with visual impairments.
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wordQ is another example of special education writing technology. This program is for students who are able to type on the computer but have issues with spelling and grammar. wordQ will predict the word the student is wanting to spell, and offer solutions for words that are misspelled. This program will also read what has been typed aloud, so students are better able to proofread their own work. This program is special because it will only offer the student as much help as they need.
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Assistive switches are another great technology that can be integrated into the special education classroom. There are numerous types of switches that can be operated by touching a button, or blowing or licking a receptive device These switches can also control a number of technologies, from something as simple as a light switch to a personal computer. Assistive switches can be used with personal computers that allow students to communicate who otherwise are not able to speak. This can greatly change the life of a student, both inside and outside the special education classroom. For example, students are able to communicate with their teachers and will also be able to develop social conversations. Assistive technology can be especially helpful for students with autism. Various computer accessory manufacturers offer different devices.
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Pen scanners are also another great tool, available from a variety of manufacturers. The student essentially swipes the pen across text, and the device will copy it so students are able to look at it on the computer. This is great for students who have difficulty typing and are in a classroom or situation where speech-to-text software is not available. This device is also great to help students learn about note taking. When reading, students can run the pen over any text they think is important and want to remember. This can help students who have difficulty with memorization and, as they continue to use this tool, develop stronger note-taking skills.
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Kids Together: Categories of Assistive Technology, http://www.kidstogether.org/assistivetechnology/categoriesofAT.htm