Assistive technology (AT) has revolutionised the education landscape by offering valuable support to individuals with various disabilities, ranging from cognitive challenges to physical impairments.
AT for children with LD refers to devices, equipment, or systems that help overcome, work around, or compensate for their specific learning deficits. Over the past decade, numerous studies have demonstrated the efficacy of AT in supporting individuals with LD. While AT does not cure or eliminate learning difficulties, it enables children to leverage their strengths and bypass areas of difficulty, ultimately helping them reach their full potential. For instance, a student struggling with reading but possessing good listening skills can benefit from audiobooks.
One notable advantage of Assistive Technology application is its ability to increase a child's self-reliance and sense of independence. Often, children who face challenges in school become overly dependent on others for assistance. By utilising AT tools, students can experience success through independent work, fostering their confidence and reducing reliance on parents, siblings, friends, and teachers.
AT can address a wide range of learning difficulties. For example, a student facing writing challenges can compose a school report by dictating it and having it converted to text using specialized software. Similarly, a child struggling with math can use a hand-held calculator to keep score during interactive games. Additionally, teenagers with dyslexia may find AT beneficial for reading aloud online training manuals provided by their employers.
Example of Assistive Technology in the Classroom:
Audio players and recorders:
Smartphones, tablets, and e-book readers equipped with text-to-speech software allow students to listen to written content. Audio recorders capture classroom lectures for later review.
Wristwatches, hourglass timers, and apps can assist students with pacing, task transitions, and time management.
Plastic strips or browser extensions can help children with visual tracking and focus, highlighting one line of text at a time.
Inflatable cushions, standing desks, slanted cushions, or balance ball chairs can provide sensory input and aid in attention and focus for children with sensory processing challenges.
FM listening systems:
These systems reduce background noise in classrooms and amplify the teacher's voice, aiding auditory processing and focus. They are beneficial for children with hearing impairment, autism spectrum disorder, and language processing challenges.
These systems project sound through mounted speakers in classrooms, benefiting all students, including those with hearing loss, language delays, central auditory processing disorders, articulation disorders, developmental delays, and English language learners.
Calculators with large displays and speech output assist students struggling with math, ensuring accurate input and calculations.
Plastic pencil grips, slant boards, and word processing software with spelling and grammar features help children with writing difficulties. Word prediction and speech recognition software enables faster and more accurate written expression.
Grenke, Ireland’s number one equipment leasing finance company, understands the importance of providing schools and educational institutions with the necessary resources to implement AT effectively. Through equipment leasing and financing options, Grenke can support schools in acquiring the required AT tools, ensuring access to cutting-edge technology for students with special needs.
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