New Assistive Technology Innovations for the Classroom
Assistive technology involves anything that allows students with disabilities to increase, maintain, or improve their functional capabilities under a classroom environment or even outside the classroom. In fact, assistive-technologies can range from the low-tech to the high-tech. in fact, 12-percent of K-12 students have a disability these students are eligible for special education services at no extra-cost. Additionally, when addressing the needs of special-students, it’s very important to focus on children first and technologies that can best serve their needs. So, below are some of the best assistive-technologies that students with disabilities can use in-order to improve on their learning-process under a classroom environment.
List of new Assistive Technology Innovations for classroom-use:
- eSight electronic glasses: these electronic-glasses were recently released to allow blind people to see. So, visually-impaired students will be able to use eSight electronic glasses to see without the need for any surgery. In fact, the eSight electronic glasses contain a high-speed, high-definition camera that captures everything the user is looking at and then algorithms enhance the video feed and display it on 2 OLED-screens in-front of the user’s eyes in a format that is palatable for blind eyes. This technology will actually revolutionize the classroom experience for visually impaired students because they will be able to view the board from any seat in the classroom, easily read from books, tablets and computers while moving independently between classes.
- Screen Readers: These are software programs that allow blind or visually impaired users to read the text that is displayed on the computer screen using a speech-synthesizer. In fact, this software will perfectly for students with low-vision thus helping them become more productive than struggling to read text while leaning closer to the computer.
- OneNote: This is a digital note-taking application with simplified navigation controls in order to make it more usable for people with disabilities like vision and mobility impairments. So, this application will work perfectly for blind and low-vision students by providing them with a great screen-reader experience and keyboard shortcuts.
- Word Talk: This is an add-on pluggin for Microsoft Word that helps to read aloud any document written word and even creates audio-files that can be saved. Additionally, Word Talk functions can be accessed by customizable keyboard shortcuts making it ideal for people with low-vision challenges and those who can’t use the mouse effectively. So, students with vision-impairment can use this program to understand course material under a classroom environment or outside.
- Smartpen: This assistive-technology work just like a normal-pen whereby it can be used to write words, scribbles and diagrams which are then synched into loud audio-clips from a teacher. Additionally, tapping the tip of the Smartpen anywhere on your notes help to play-back what said at that exact moment in time hence helping learners with low-vision impairment and comprehension issues to be able to review and reflect their notes while boosting their retention rates.
- Video Magnifiers: These are described as a form of closed-circuit television (CCTV) that uses video-cameras to display magnified images on a monitor or television screen. So, students with low-vision problems can actually use this technology to read their course material with greater ease.
- Bookshare: This program offers the largest collection of accessible titles/books that people of all ages and schools around the globe can access and read in format that suit them. For example, this platform allows readers to listen to books with high-quality text-to-speech voices, hear and see highlighted words on the screen and even read with enlarged fonts.
- Word Prediction: This program includes a number of different applications designed to help students with writing challenges. Word predictors can actually help a user during word processing by simply predicting the word the user is intending to type. These programs are base on spelling, syntax and frequent/recent use. So, students who struggle with writing spellings, grammar and word-choices coupled with those having memory difficulties will great find the program useful and helpful at school.
- ActiveWords: This assistive-technology helps to turn words into commands on the users’ computer. For example, ActiveWords can open files and folders, WebPages and applications and even handle most tasks that a person may need to perform on their computer. Additionally, ActiveWords Sync allows users to use most cloud services like OneDrive, Dropbox and Google-Drive to automatically sync data between their devices. So, this program will work perfectly for students with developmental disabilities because it will significantly save time.
- Supernova Access Suite: This is a complete screen reader with natural sounding speech and an integrated screen magnifier with Braille display-support. So, this program will work perfectly for both vision and hearing impaired under a classroom environment. Lastly, this program can be downloaded from “YourDolphin” which also offers a free trial for students to try it out before making a purchase.
- FaceMouse: This program turns a standard webcam into a mouse operator hence allowing physically-disabled students to use their heads and facial gestures to perform a number of tasks like pointing the cursor, clicking on sites and even typing on the keyboard. For example, this program will turn a students’ head into a joystick controller with variable settings for sensitivity making the mouse-pointer easier to control. Additionally, some specific head or facial actions can be linked to keyboard presses for added functionality.
- Intel Reader: This is a mobile handheld device that uses TTS technology to read printed text loud. This device features a high-resolution camera that captures printed text, converts it to digital-text and then reads it to the user. Additionally, during playback words can be highlighted as they are read-out loud and the user can even pause and have the device spell-out highlighted words. Lastly, the Intel Reader is mobile enough to use in any environment making it a perfect choice for students with low-vision problems.
- Kurzweil 3000: This is TTS-software designed for individuals that struggle with literacy. This program features include; Multiple TTS voices, Talking spell-checker, Picture dictionary graphics for over 40,000 words, Text magnification and Supports 18 languages and dialects. In fact, this program provides students with a multi-sensory approach to literacy learning and it’s available on windows Macintosh.
- Sip-and-Puff Systems: This is an innovative program that makes computers easier to use by students with mobility challenges like paralysis and fine-motor-skill difficulties. In fact, sip-and-puff systems allow users to control a mouthstick similar to a joystick using only their breath whereby students can direct this mouthstick to click on web-pages, type and even perform other functions.