Technology is omnipresent. But did you know that there are particular tech tools that can assist people who learn and think differently? These tools are known as assistive technology, or AT. They are often economical and simple to use.
What is Assistive Technology?
AT is any device, software, or tool that assists people to work around challenges so they can understand, communicate, and function better. A wheelchair is an instance of Assistive Technology. In the same way, is software that reads text aloud from a computer or a keyboard for someone if struggling with handwriting.
These tools can benefit people working around their challenges, while also playing to their vitalities. This is particularly crucial for children who struggle with learning, whether in reading, writing, mathematics, or any other subject. AT can help these kids grow in school and in life. And that can help thrive their confidence and independence.
There are lots of myths about AT. Some wrongly assume that using AT is “cheating.” On the other hand, others bother that kids who use AT may become too dependent on it.
One of the enormous myths is that using AT will curb kids from learning academic skills. That’s completely not true. For example, professionals acknowledge that listening to audiobooks doesn’t keep kids away from learning to read.
Although the role of assistive technology benefits are what we will understand now. You should keep in mind that it can not “cure” things like dyslexia or ADHD. Neither can it replace classroom teaching and education.
Examples of Assistive Technology Tools
Not all AT tools are high-tech. Assistive Technology comprises many easy adaptive tools, like organizers and highlighters. The pencil grip is an incredible example of low-tech AT. Various AT tools are high-tech, and because of improvements in technology, tools are now available on a variety of platforms:
- Desktop and laptop computers
- Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets
- Chrome browser used on any device or also known as Chromebooks
Some illustrations of high-tech AT tools encompass text-to-speech (TTS), dictation (speech-to-text), and word prediction. However, there are hundreds of AT tools that can work with learning challenges.
Let’s look at some more examples below :
- Assistive technology for reading
- Assistive technology for writing
- Assistive technology for math
- Assistive technology for listening comprehension
How to Discover the Right Assistive Technology Tool?
With so many AT tools available, discovering the right one can be burdensome. One good approach is to choose AT that targets a certain struggle. For example, if a child struggles with writing, then you should go and try dictation technology. It will perform in a way that when the child speaks, words will appear on the screen.
People with access to a mobile device, like a smartphone or a digital tablet, can add AT tools to it with the help of apps.
Moreover, you can explore these ideas:
- Apps to help young kids with reading
- Apps to help teens with organization
- Apps to help with note-taking
- Apps to help younger kids build self-control
- Apps to help teens to create self-control
- Meditation apps for kids
- Apps for back-to-school challenges
- Websites, applications, and games to stimulate with learning to type
People who can access a desktop or laptop computer can utilize AT software for reading, writing, and other works. And those with access to a Chromebook or the Chrome internet browser can glance at Chrome tools to help with numerous challenges.
If you are confused and not able to decide what to use first, then you should choose text-to-speech as it is a good place to begin. Text-to-speech converts electronic text to spoken words, so children can listen to digital text. It can create a huge difference for people who have difficulty with reading or focus.
Types of Assistive Technology
Now let’s look at the following technologies that help people use computers to access the web:
Screen magnification software
It allows users to regulate the size of text and graphics on the screen. It is not like using a zoom feature, these apps enable the user to possess the ability to see the enlarged text in a link to the rest of the screen. This is done by simulating a handheld magnifier on the screen.
Software is utilized by blind or visually impaired people to read the content of the computer screen. Some instances are NVDA, JAWS for Windows, or Voiceover Mac.
Software is operated by people with numerous forms of learning disabilities that affect their proficiency to read the text. This software will read text with a synthesized voice and probably possess a highlighter to stress the word being spoken. These applications do not read things such as cards or types of elements, they simply read the text.
Speech input software
Speech input software furnishes people with difficulty in typing another way to type text and yet control the computer. Users can give the system some specified commands to perform mouse actions. Users can notify the system to click a link or a button or use a menu item.
Here are some examples that would be Dragon Naturally Speaking for Windows or Mac. You should please note both Windows and Mac have few speech recognition utilities, however, they cannot be used to browse the web.
Alternative input devices
Some users may not be skilled to use a mouse or keyboard to work on a computer. But for these people, can use several forms of devices, such as:
Head pointers: A stick advanced directly on the user’s head that can be utilized to push keys on the keyboard. This equipment is used by individuals who can not use their hands.
Motion tracking or eye tracking: This comprises devices that look at a target or even the eyes of the user to comprehend where the user likes to place the mouse pointer and moves it for the user.
Single switch entry devices: The devices of these kinds can be used with other substitute input devices or by themselves. These are generally used with on-screen keyboards. The on-screen keyboard has a cursor move button across the keys, and when the key the user needs is in focus, the user will click the switch. In the same way, it can also work on a webpage like a cursor can move through the webpage, and if the user wants to click on a link when that link or button is in focus, the user can turn on the switch.
To conclude, assistive technology (AT) is any item, software program, or product system, piece of equipment, that is utilized to improve, maintain, or enhance the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities. AT can be anything from electronic appliances to walkers, wheelchairs, educational software, power lifts, and head trackers, etc. It assists people who have difficulty typing, speaking, writing, remembering, seeing, hearing, walking, and many other things. Different disabilities need varied assistive technologies.