Parents often do not know all of the different adaptive technology tools that are available free from public schools to help their students with special needs or learning disabilities. It is not something that is well known and unless parents luck out with a great assistive technology specialist, their children could be missing out on some amazing tools that will help learning and getting around school campuses much easier for the students. There are specialty products available to help students with all kinds of disabilities including: eyesight, hearing, speaking, mobility, and learning disabilities. Do not be afraid to ask for technological assistance.
These tools can help students of any age, but if they start using them at a young age, it will help give kids the boost they need to work on level or get caught up. Here is a list of some of the top adaptive technology tools that you can look for or ask about for your child:
1. Key Guard: This is a clear plastic piece that fits over a regular keyboard and helps make sure that multiple keys are not pressed at the same time.
2. Touchfire iPad Keyboard: Some students do better with the touch screen and some tasks might be easier with this keyboard where you can feel the keys being pressed. This gives kids the best of both worlds – touch screen for some applications while still able to feel when the keys are pressed. Many children with fine motor skill deficiencies have issues using a mouse, especially for dual purpose activities like dragging and dropping. A touch screen makes this easier for them.
3. Audio Readers. There are a number of different programs that will read text and word documents out loud to students. Even though this is something an assistant can do, these readers allow your child to be more independent.
4. Word Prediction Software. This type of program assists student who have mobility or fine motor skill issues and allows them to choose which word they were typing from a set of words after typing just the first few letters. This shortens the length of time it takes for the students to write. The best programs learn the words used most frequently for even faster communication.
5. Personal FM System. This is used for students who have trouble hearing the teacher. The student wears headphones that are linked to a microphone that the teacher wears. They can also help kids in a variety of different settings including restaurants, theaters, movies, and more.
6. Video Magnifiers. Displays both text and computer screen images larger. This is a visual aide that helps students with visual impairments and also can help students that have trouble focusing. Larger objects help them focus.
7. Close Captioning or Subtitle Programs. Allow for close captioning or subtitles of what is being said orally in a classroom. This is likely better for older students that have a strong reading skill level and can keep up with the subtitles.
8. Alternative Mice and Keyboards. There are a number of different alternative mice and keyboards available that compensate for different disabilities. Ask the assistive technology expert for your school what they recommend would be best for your child. Adaptive technology mice come in a variety of shapes and sizes with different button placement. There are even mouse gloves. Keyboards are made in shapes that can accommodate different disabilities too.
9. Phonetic Spelling Software. These types of tools offer aide to dyslexics and students with other learning disabilities. It also helps with students having trouble spelling.
10. Personal Data Managers. There are also different types of data managers that can cater to your child’s strengths or needs. These are applications or programs that organize a student’s information in whichever way is easier for them to understand and access. It can include assignments, a schedule, reminders, task managers, and to do lists. This helps your child be independent because an aide or teacher might have had to remind them about the items that the data manager does. It also improves grades when assignments are done and turned in on time.
Bio: Amanda Greene is blogger and Brand Manager for RHL.org. She enjoys sharing learning and college life tips and ideas and fun classroom ideas for teachers
Read more about adaptive technology