What is assistive technology and how can it help you? Find out the answers to all your AT-related questions in this article.

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What is assistive technology and how can it help me?

Learning disabilities like dyslexia, ADHD, or autism can hinder the learning process of a person regardless of age. Assistive technology serves as a tool to help individuals afflicted with learning disabilities achieve better academic performance.

If you or someone you know suffers from a learning disability, you may want to know more about different assistive technology tools. In this article, we explain how exactly assistive technology works, what types of AT are there, and how children and students can benefit from it.

What is assistive technology?

Assistive technology (AT) is a device, system, software program, or piece of equipment that helps individuals with disabilities work around their challenges. By using AT, people can communicate, walk, or function better.

Examples of assistive technology include:

  • High-tech: computers and mobile devices that serve special purposes

  • Low-tech: cardboard communication boards, fuzzy felt, etc.

  • Hardware: mounting systems, prosthetics, hearing aids, positioning devices, etc.

  • Computer software: communication programs, screen readers, word prediction or text to speech software, and more

  • Computer hardware: keyboards, special switches, and pointing devices

  • Curricular or educational software: learning programs catered to special needs students

  • Physical tools: wheelchairs, electronic devices, augmentative communication devices, tactile materials like Braille flashcards, braces, recorders, head trackers, pencil grips, and other fine motor skills tools

AT helps learners with all types of disabilities, including talking, speaking, writing, pointing, remembering, hearing, walking, and more.

Depending on the disability, people can choose different assistive tools.

How to choose the best assistive tool?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act states that a child’s IEP team should determine whether they need any AT for an appropriate and free public education. The Act also states that school districts are responsible for purchasing and choosing the technology. Furthermore, the school must train the staff and child on how to use the tool.

People with disabilities often consult with professionals trained for their type of AT when it comes to choosing AT tools.

A specialized AT team can include family doctors, special education teachers, rehabilitation engineers, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, and other specialists.

Choosing the right assistive technology tool ultimately comes down to a professional’s advice on which tool works best for the person’s specific needs.

How assistive technology helps kids

AT addresses numerous learning difficulties in kids with disabilities. It can help kids who struggle with listening, memory, organization, reading, writing, and more.

Assistive technology allows young children with disabilities to use their strengths or abilities to work around their impairments. It’s important to understand that AT tools don’t cure disabilities. They help the children reach their potential as it enables them to bypass difficulties.

Think of students who have trouble reading but have great listening skills. They can benefit from screen readers and audiobooks to grasp the content in a way that works better for them.

AT tools compensate for the student’s deficit skills or disability areas. Also, AT can boost the kid’s sense of independence and self-reliance. It makes them less dependent on their siblings, friends, teachers, and parents when it comes to getting assignments done.

Thanks to AT, children with learning disabilities become more independent, which has numerous benefits for their overall mental health and well-being.

How students benefit from assistive technology

AT is believed to significantly assist students with disabilities in achieving better academic performance compared to other interventions.

Students with learning disabilities can rely on assistive technology to progress toward achieving their special education goals. First, the students learn how to complete tasks and work around areas of difficulty.

Every time learners with reading difficulties listen to school work with text to speech programs, they bypass a problematic area. They can also learn new words by reading the highlighted words on the screen as they are being read by a computer.

Plus, laptops and tablets are beneficial for students in public schools because of their lightweight and portable design. Those with handwriting challenges can use iPads or laptops to take notes in class, resulting in higher quality and quantity of notes.

Word processing apps help students complete work in a more organized way by minimizing spelling errors.

Finally, students with dysgraphia can identify and correct their errors with the use of spell-check tools faster compared to editing by hand.

Dictionaries, speech to text software, voice recognition tools, spell checkers, graphic organizers, calculators, timers, and other assistive technology devices can be helpful for students of all ages.

Use Speechify as a form of assistive technology

Speechify is a text to speech tool that can serve as assistive technology for people with learning disabilities. It has proven to be especially effective for those with dyslexia. Millions of people with this disability rely on the platform to make their daily lives easier.

For example, dyslexic people have a hard time reading instructions for assignments. With Speechify, they don’t have to spend any extra seconds on decoding. They can hear the instructions as they’re being read to them and focus on the project itself.

People with learning disabilities were the main inspiration behind creating this service.

Speechify is incredibly simple to use. It’s available as a separate app for iOS and Android devices but also works as a browser extension for laptops and computers.

If you’d like to test Speechify yourself, you can do so today. Just visit the official website and hit the “Try for free” button.

FAQ

Why is assistive technology important?

Assistive technology is important because it helps young children and students with learning disabilities bypass their areas of difficulty by using their strengths. It’s also crucial for people of all ages with walking, speaking, and other impairments.

What are some of the types of assistive technology?

Braille displays, text to speech systems, recorders, large print materials, magnifiers, or talking devices are just some types of AT.

What is the difference between adaptive technology and assistive technology?

Assistive technology refers to a system, device, or piece of equipment that boosts or maintains the capabilities of people with disabilities. Adaptive technology, on the other hand, is a subcategory of assistive technology that refers to a system or object explicitly designed for people with disabilities. Many items can fall into both categories.

How does assistive technology help those with disabilities?

Assistive technology helps people with disabilities compensate for their impairments by using special tools. Using AT makes people with disabilities more independent and productive and can boost their academic or professional performance.

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