Technology can provide an engaging way to reach many learners. Students that struggle to pay attention to a lecture can be reached with interactive online tools and pre-recorded direct instruction. But what about those students that struggle to learn based on disabilities or language acquisition?
The term assistive technology refers to equipment or digital systems that help a person with a disability or barrier gain better access to instruction and communication. While assistive technology tools can be written into a 504 plan or IEP, many parents and facilitators are often unaware of what is available for students. Many resources outline the benefit and process of including assistive technology in education plans, including this article from Understood.org.
Students at Manor ISD have good access to technology, especially Apple iPads. These devices have been widespread in the district for the last five years. iPads have built in accessibility features, such as:
English Language Learners (ELLs) struggle in a different way, and technology can help overcome the barriers of frustration and embarrassment. iPad applications such as Chatterbox and Tellagami allow students to use voice-over animation to present language acquisition. Google Translate is a valuable tool that allows for voice recognition and translation when trying to communicate with students in their native language. All of these tools are available on Self Service on Manor ISD district iPads.
Communication tools allow staff and students to extend the learning beyond the classroom walls or to assist with simple instruction within. There are many free and paid apps that allow for one touch verbal words and phrases for nonverbal students. Another way to modify instruction is to offer recorded versions of instruction, whether produced by the teacher (click here for simple screencast training) or found online. This allows students to have ongoing access to the instruction and not just rely on a one shot lecture.
Utilizing the tools and techniques that are students have grown up with is a practical and necessary part of teaching today. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on assistive technology and techniques.