Assistive Teachnology

Creating Added Accessibility in the Classroom!

Screen Readers

The goal with this form of Assistive Technology (AT) is to represent information from a screen in a text-to-speech format. This helps students who are visually impaired or struggle with literacy. This technology takes form in software such as the VoiceOver feature on the Mac OS system. The focus of thus technology is text-to-speech.


While I have not seen the technology used first hand in my classroom, I have heard other teachers in the building talk about the benefits of these AT devices.


I think about a student I in the past that struggle severely with reading, and how he could benefit from this technology. He was one that would get every problem wrong if the test or assignment was just handed to him to complete, however, if you read the questions to him, he would be able to verbally tell you the correct answer. This piece of technology would be the first step in helping this child in a way that would increase he knowledge of concepts and allow him to feel success. Which, isn't that the goal of AT at it's heart?


I know that there are kids, typically one or two a year that are like this student described, and if they were able to get the help they needed with their struggles related to illiteracy, it would cut out a step in the process that they have not seen success by allowing them the assistance they need so they can focus on creating their response and learning.


Sources:

American Foundation for the Blind

http://www.afb.org/ProdBrowseCatResults.asp?CatID=49


Screen Reader

http://www.screenreader.net/

Speech Recognition Software

Speech Recognition Software is not a new concept for many of us that have smart phones. While many of use are prone to complaining at Siri's responses, the technology itself has the potential to transform the classroom for certain students.


I the previous section I discussed a student that struggled with communication skills, he would bomb a test or assignment if simply asked to take it. But when that same exam (or rather, a different version of the test) would be read to him, he would soar with flying colors. Imagine also, if instead of spending afternoons with my at my desk being read the assignment and then having his responses dictated, he were able to use technology to help him complete assignments. That would take the stress off of me as the teacher, and would allow him autonomy in the classroom he hasn't ever been able to have.


This would revolutionize the classroom for students who are visually impaired or struggle with literacy. The interesting thing about this technology too is that in terms of speech recognition software, it is a technology that is already being used in students cell phones or ipods. It could easily be implemented in the classroom.


Sources:

Top Ten Reviews

http://voice-recognition-software-review.toptenreviews.com/


Next Generation Technologies

http://www.ngtvoice.com/services/assistive/peel.htm

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