Assistive Technology in the Class
Screen readers are a form of Communication AT that read aloud the text that is on a computer screen. It is software installed on a computer that will then read whatever text is on the screen aloud. Aside from helping visually impaired students, this technology can also be used to help students with learning difficulties. Students with dyslexia benefit from this tool because they can receive information easier without stumbling over the reading of text. In the classroom environment, students could use a screen reader to have computer based text (articles, online textbooks, homework assignments, notes given in Power Point or similar format) read aloud to them as many times as they need. Because of varied abilities in a classroom, some students need to hear/ see information only a couple times for it to "stick", but some need it repeated multiple times.
Speech recognition software is a communication tool that does the opposite of the screen reader; it takes spoken word and turns it into text. As an elementary teacher in a school that has zero explicit technology education happening, I see this tool as an asset to all students. This could be used in writing by expediting the typing process. Fifth graders "hunt-and-peck" to type. Using speech recognition software, students could read their piece of writing to the computer and edit it to perfect it. Students would become world-class editors! Speech recognition could also be used in reading. I teach a class that 90% of its members read below grade level. It is impossible for me to read individually with students very often. With speech recognition software, students could read to the computer, look at what they read side-by-side with the text, and truly see their mistakes. What powerful ownership they could take of their reading fluency!