Introducing assistive technology in the classroom is a hot topic for discussion amongst educational bodies. Though the benefits are largely apparent, many school administrators are put off by the idea of spending such large sums of school funds. However, this outdated preconception surrounding assistive technology is becoming increasingly damaging.
Rapidly decreasing costs have made assistive technologies a financially viable solution for every classroom anywhere in the world. And it’s time that those in a position of power come to realize this. They must take the necessary steps to integrate assistive technology in the classroom of as many schools as possible.
The importance of assistive technology in the classroom
Assistive technology has been proven as an effective means to help improve the learning experience for a variety of different students. First and foremost, they serve to help children overcome any pre-existing physical or mental disability. Essentially, those for which learning is naturally more difficult. Allowing them to keep up with the normal rate of learning, instead of falling behind in their studies.
Over time, this allows such students to develop a higher quality education. They are then best placed to fulfil their academic potential. The importance of assistive technology in the classroom comes down to one crucial point. It enables children to be independent as opposed to being dependent. A vital ability to gain early on in life.
Which assistive technology would be most beneficial?
There is assistive technology to aid in the learning process for all kinds of students. Sure, many tools would most benefit those suffering from things like dyslexia or dyspraxia. However, any student can benefit from many of the most popular tools already available. This includes the following 6 tools. Crucially, we believe these could quickly be introduced to every classroom in the USA and, of course, the world.
Lightkey is just one example of what we know as word prediction software. This software is readily affordable, especially if licensed for an entire school all at once. It works by predicting what the student is going to write in real time. It can then offer insightful predictions and suggestions as to which word the student is trying to spell next.
As you would imagine, this is a great way to speed up the process of learning grammar and advancing one’s vocabulary. It also helps to ease the frustration of those children struggling a little more than their classmates. Best of all, it can benefit children and teenagers of all ages.
2. CAMERA MOUSE
Camera Mouse is far more specific in its application. However, it can still go a long way in benefitting hundreds of thousands of students in the USA and further afield. In essence, it serves to convert the user’s head into a virtual joystick. Allowing the user to click, type and browse all without using their hands.
This technology has been advancing rapidly in sophistication over the last couple of years. It has now reached a crucial point of affordability and widespread application. No more should physical limitations hold back students eager and ready to engage in independent learning.
Scanmarker is one of the hottest new forms of assistive technology. It plays a large role in helping make reading information easier for those suffering from some sort of visual or cognitive impairment. It works by scanning the information from a handwritten page and then uploading it to a digital format.
It can simultaneously process the text and even read it out loud to the user of the marker. The applications of such a device would be wide-reaching. It would immediately benefit the millions of global students suffering from things like dyslexia.
Perhaps the most wide-reaching type of assistive technology currently available comes in the form of any tablet device. Such as iPads. These are a widespread form of consumer technology that almost all homeowners in the USA either already own or are aware of.
They work so well seeing as they are easy to transport, intuitive to use and can be customized to an almost limitless extent. The App Store is awash with a whole suite of apps that can be downloaded either for free or a minimal amount. All of which can aid in the learning process. And don’t worry, tablets can be fully configured in order to ban any unwanted gaming apps.
5. TALKING CALCULATORS
Maxi Aids are just one well-known provider of talking calculators. These likely need very little explanation and do exactly what they say on the tin! Instead of needing to type in numbers when performing calculations, they work by registering your speech and then speaking the results out loud.
These are perfect for students suffering from dyscalculia. Best of all, the technology has been in place now for a long time. As such, the cost per unit has come down significantly. Or, you could simply integrate talking calculator apps within mobile or tablet devices.
6. SOUND FIELD SYSTEMS
Sound field systems are a form of assistive technology in the classroom that would benefit all kinds of students. They work by redistributing any sound in a classroom to make it clear and concise. This includes any sound coming from students, teachers and other multimedia devices.
As such, they would primarily benefit those students suffering from some kind of hearing loss. However, they would also go a long way in assisting children who suffer from learning and auditory difficulties. Such as development delays, articulation disorders, and language delays. Plus, don’t forget about those students busy trying to learn a second language.
Our final thoughts to consider
Of course, integrating all of the aforementioned technologies in every classroom in the world will not happen overnight. What is important so that we do all we can to help raise awareness and increase the number of schools willing to invest in and trial new tools. Within a few short years, we could do away with many of the incorrect preconceptions about what assistive technology means and who it is useful for.