Assistive Technology for Special Needs

September 27, 2016

Technology is all around us.  You can’t walk down the street without seeing someone on a phone, tablet, watch or other device. So using technology to help students with special needs should be a breeze, right? There is a lot out there and it takes some time to sift through what works best and what doesn’t. Here are some suggestions of places to start depending upon your child’s needs, whether it is in the area of: organization, time management, communication, reading, writing or behavioral.

  • Organization – Assistive technology (AT) tools can help a person plan, organize, and keep track of his/her calendar, schedule, task list, contact information, and miscellaneous notes. These tools allow him/her to manage, store, and retrieve such information with the help of special software and hand-held devices. For example, DraftBuilder can help organize thoughts for writing and tasks. WatchMinder can help remind students when to do certain tasks throughout the day.
  • Communication and Socialization tools – For example, TalkingTablets help people with speech or learning difficulties to communicate, or Smartstones Touch ,
    a wearable device that lets you send messages with swipe, tap, or shake gestures. Smartstones Touch is the first wearable that lets you send messages with simple gestures.
  • Reading and Writing Skills can get a boost through technology. There is a wide range of assistive technology (AT) tools available to help individuals who struggle with reading and writing. Audio books are becoming more and more available, and text-to-reading programs are becoming more compatible with school/text books. For example, check out Bookshare or Overdrive. Struggling readers can try out this program at: Reading Rockets.
  • Listening Technology – A personal FM listening system transmits a speaker’s voice directly to the user’s ear. This may help the listener focus on what the speaker is saying. The unit consists of a wireless transmitter (with microphone) worn by the speaker and a receiver (with earphone) worn by the listener. Products that you may want to research include – Easy Listener or Hearing Helper.

Talk to your child’s teacher and research programs that may be free for your child through his/her school.