Assistive Technology

Roles in the Classroom: What I Knew and What I Now Know

My Experiences with Assistive Technology

I have a lot of experience with no tech assistive technology. It is simply accommodations that are made regularly for students. I have used graph paper for students to line up numbers, pencil grippers for students with trouble grasping their pencils, and boxed paper for students who have trouble spacing their writing. This is something that, hopefully, every teacher has experience with by making simple accommodations to help with low grade issues.


As far as low or high tech experiences, I have limited experience during my teaching career. I had a student who had poor eyesight, and so he required a machine that would sit over his textbooks and would magnify the words to help him read the text easier. He was a student that was only partially included in a regular classroom and so I did not use the magnifier often, but it did help him a lot. I do remember attending school with a student with Cerebral Palsy (similar to Ellen) who required a motorized wheelchair that he steered with his mouth (which I now know was a Sip and Puff system). I was always fascinated with this technology; allowing this student to be partially independent. Once this student started using this new technology, you could just see his confidence soar. It was amazing to witness.

Screen Readers - High Tech Assistive Technology

What is it?

Screen Readers are software applications that allows people with severe visual impairments to use a computer. It uses a computer's operating system to help read icons, applications, menus, files/folders, and more for the user. It translates onscreen information into spoken words that can be heard through the speakers or headphones.


What disabilities may be served?

Screen Readers can help students with visual disabilities, as well as students who struggle with reading and writing.


How can this benefit students in the classroom?

Students with visual or language disabilities can now use a computer successfully. Screen Readers can read anything from graphics to webpages to documents for the user. The user simply needs to learn keyboard commands that allows them to navigate all the options on the computer. Being able to use a screen reader allows students with disabilities an opportunity to research, create, and learn just like their classmates.

Sip and Puff Systems - High Tech Assistive Technology

What is it?

Sip and Puff switches read the user's breath actions to signal information to the system. The user can turn the system on and off, control a wheelchair, use a computer, and more by interpreting the person's breath patterns. It can be used for simple and sophisticated applications.


What disabilities may be served?

People with mobility disabilities can use the Sip and Puff systems. This might include students with Cerebral Palsy or quadriplegics.


How can this benefit students in the classroom?

This technology can help students have independent mobility within a classroom. They are able to control their motorized wheelchairs by inhaling and exhaling commands to this system. Students can also participate in activities that require the computer. Without this system, a student would rely on someone else to navigate the computer. With is, however, they can create and participate independently or with less assistance.