Assistive technology and strategies for the special needs

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Josh Oglesby ITEC 7530

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Assistive technology and strategies for the special needs

  1. 1. By Josh Oglesby
  2. 2.  Working with students who have special needs is a challenge unto itself. As a teacher, you have to prepare a lesson that will entice the students to learn and interest them on an educational level that matches local, state and national standards. In addition to this, you must also take into account the needs of the students that are above and beyond the usual needs of your average school age child. Luckily, we live in an era that has developed technology to assist nearly all types of disabilities and can narrow the learning gap that exists between students with special needs, and those without. In the following pages I have identified several strategies as well as assistive technologies to help students with auditory, reading and writing disabilities as well as those diagnosed with ADHD. I hope you can take these suggestions and incorporate them into your daily classroom lessons to assist students who have these types of special needs.
  3. 3. Auditory Disability: Students with auditory disabilities are at a distinct disadvantage in the classrooms of today. Not only so they have to learn the material that is expected of them but also must cope with the inability to hear as their classmates do. An assistive technology that can be put in place in classrooms of today are voice amplifiers that will address these students special needs. When using this technology, students will wear a hearing aid like device that is linked to microphone that is worn by the teacher. Operating much like a cell phone, the teachers words are transmitted wirelessly to the students ear piece so that they are able to hear the spoken words of the teacher without disturbing the other students of the class. 
  4. 4.  Writing Learning Disability A common problem of in the classrooms of today is the inability of students to transfer their thoughts and ideas from their minds to their paper. Students can verbalize sentences and paragraphs that are well formed and accurate with what the lesson or skill of the day is intended to assess. This same student though, when asked to write these ideas out, cannot produce the same quality of sentence structure as when they verbalized it. As a result, the students work is assessed at a much lower level than what they are able to produce merely because they cannot transfer it from brain to paper due to a disability in writing. To overcome this, students may be allowed to use a dictation software or program such as Dragon Dictation. This computer program takes the spoken word of a student and “translates” it into typed text in a word document. In this manner, the teacher is able to assess the students ability to write without having to go through the usual channels that will make this student appear to be unable or unprepared. This technology also frees the student up from the struggle of having to write and think about their sentence structure at the same time. The teacher is able to work more focused on the students writing skills without the student feeling the pressure of being graded.
  5. 5. Reading Learning Disability A strategy that can be utilized for students who have a reading disability will integrate technology into the daily classroom lives of students. Just as students with writing difficulty can utilize software to dictate their words to paper, students with reading difficulty can utilize technology to “read” the text to them as they follow along in the actual textbook. Either by downloading the text to a device such as an Ipod or Ipad and then listening with ear buds or utilizing provided CD’s that come with the textbook, students can practice following along in the actual text and see the words as they hear the pronunciation. Through this strategy, students are able to receive the same material as their classmates without having to fight through their disability. 
  6. 6. Teaching students with ADHD can be s struggle to say the least. These students struggle to stay focused and are also more hyper active than their classmates. These two issues combined cause the student to miss a large majority of lessons due to their inability to stay on task and focused on the lesson that is being taught. An instructional practice that can be utilized to help these students is one known as a Busy Box. In using this strategy, each diagnosed student will have a shoe box or some other container that holds objects or learning devices that the student can utilize once they are finished with work or if they notice themselves getting “fidgety”. Some common items that are utilized in a Busy Box are play doh, sensory balls or even small hand held electronic games. The play doh and sensory ball can be utilized during lessons to draw out some of the students hyper active energy and allow them to stay focused on the lesson of the day. The small, hand held game can be utilized after a student has completed work or during down time to practice math facts or some other educational topic. The use of a Busy Box must also be accompanied by some education on our part as teachers in educating the students on their proper use. The student must understand that they utilize the box as a tool to help them stay focused rather than an outlet for play or distraction. When used appropriately, the box allows the student to stay focused and be much more productive in learning the intended lesson of the day.
  7. 7. Students who are LD in reading are at a distinct advantage in our schools today due to the nature of their disability. Due to the fact that most of what we do in class requires some form of reading, these students cannot even begin to access the material to begin learning. To overcome this disability, teacher may employ a variety of strategies in conjunction with one another in order to aid these students. The first suggestion would be to shorten the length of text required to be read by the student. If the student sees a page or paragraph that must be read and feels overwhelmed then they will more than likely not do as well in comprehending the material than if the material were more manageable. Using products like Cliff’s Notes or being selective in the passages that you present your LD readers can make a large impact on their learning.
  8. 8.  A second strategy that can be used for students who have difficulty reading is having colored overlays that can be placed on top of texts to highlight the important portions of the passage without taking away from the overall length of the piece. This allows the student to focus on the important aspects of the text without feeling left out from the material their classmates are involved with.

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