Helping Children And Youth With Special Needs Using Technology By Rob Plaskett
In the Regular Classroom
Allowing Them to
There is a group of students in the school
system, beginning in Kindergarten and
carrying on through grade 12 and beyond,
who have difficulty being successful in the
traditional classroom and traditional
curriculum in spite of the schools’ attempts
These students have a variety of innate
challenges that make it difficult for them to
be successful in the school system. Some
of these challenges include:
Reading and Writing Challenges
Language Processing Issues
Short Term Memory Deficits
Long Term Memory Deficits
Poor Fine Motor Skills
Atypical Learning Styles
Often these students have areas of strength
and ability that they have difficulty
showcasing and being recognized for in
the traditional classroom.
Often the avenues through which more
typical students achieve recognition and
success in the classroom are not available
to these students.
Typically the student begins having
difficulties when they first enter school and
these difficulties continue from grade to
grade. In the context of the regular
classroom these students are typically not
doing as well as their peers in the
activities that the classroom is focusing
In addition to falling behind in academic areas
such as reading and writing these students tend
not to develop pride in their work, independent
work skills, motivation to finish, expectations of
success and recognition, or a feeling that they
are smart and can be successful.
These issues further interfere with their success
and can become more debilitating than the
original learning issues.
Using Technology to support areas of
difficulty and learning style from an early
age allows the child to be successful in the
classroom right away and helps develop
motivation, work skills, and expectations of
We have the technology to do this for
students from K-12.
• The best software programs for supporting
atypical students in the classroom are:
• Kurzweil 3000
• Classroom Suite 4
• Clicker 5
• Microsoft Powerpoint
This is an excellent text to speech, scanning, writing , and studying program.
Essentially it will read any text on the screen out loud in a good clear voice. Material can be put into
Kurzweil either by scanning, pdf file. Word file, txt file, or by copying and pasting. The program
also reads websites on line . British Columbia has prescanned in all of the text books, novels,
workbooks, and geneneral reading material used in BC schools and this material can be obtained
through ARC BC at http://www.arc-bc.org/ for children with an identified reading disability at no
Kurzweil can scan in any text, worksheets, tests, handouts, etc and read it out loud immediately .
Kurzweil also has word prediction software built in, brainstorming tools, study tools and works as a
talking word processor.
Use it for students from grade 3 to adult.
Free 30 day trials of Kurzweil can be downloaded and tried on your computer at
Classroom Suite 4
From intellitools software this program serves from preschool to grade 5 with activities that help teach
and practice the steps involved in learning to read as well as providing excellent tools that allow
any child to produce a written document. This program also has an excellent math section.
I think this is an excellent tool for use in schools and at home. It allows you to quickly make up
activities that exactly fit any students needs. It keeps track of each student’s progress and
allows you to assign activities to specific children.
Classroom Suite has applications within it that will allow any child to write something imediately.
Classroom Suite is also designed to work with switches so it can be accessed by children with even
severe physical challenges.
You can download a free 30 day trial from http://www.kurzweiledu.com/
Clicker 5 is a program that works best in
grades K to 3 and supports children’s
writing. Using the supports in Clicker 5 any
kindergarten child can quickly and easily
write something and have it read aloud.
Clicker 5 is supplied by Crick Software and
a free 30 day trial can be downloaded at