Students with Learning Disabilities
There are a range of technology items that can help students with learning disabilities to participate. These technologies help the student to remember, organize, learn and study. Many can be used to simplify what the students sees, read written text aloud and provide cues for independent learning. These tools are often combined with instructional and behavioral strategies for best outcomes.
When books are adapted, they can making reading more successful and enjoyable for children. Adaptations can include making book easier to use (turning pages, holding), text easier to read (simplify, change) and to remember. The Boston Public Schools Access Technology Center addressed this need in a workshop, Recipe for Adapting Books, that offers a systematic approach to the process of adapting books.
When using hard copy books, try applying color coding to emphasize key points. To do this, use
There are an increasing number of books available in e-text format. Benefits of this format includes the ability to change how the text appears. How a student sees the text can impact her ability to read and comprehend. Cluttered pages with little white space and small print makes reading more difficult. With e-text, try resizing the font and controlling the color contrast of the text and background to make onscreen reading easier.
Studies show that when a student can listen to text being read as they follow along, comprehension may be enhanced. Try using books on tape or CD or digitizing text by using scanners and text-to-speech software programs. Several textbook publishers are working towards e-text versions:
Prentice Hall SuccessNet Several Middle and High School textbooks are now available in electronic format. These "iText" versions include the complete textbook which has been enhanced certain images with videos, slide shows and other multi-media elements.
WizeUp.Com works together with publishing companies to create digital versions of college textbooks. Original textbooks are provided in full, page-by-page, graphic-by-graphicwhile providing interactive experiences.
Start to Finish Books
Accessible Books Collection (subscription required)
BookShare.Org (subscription required)
Many students have difficulty combining the mechanics of writing with composing ideas. Try separating the student's writing issues into mechanics vs. composition barriers to help identify AT solutions. For example, when the task involves improved efficiency with forming letters, words and sentences, consider electronic note takers or computers for writing using:
When the tasks involves developing and organizing thoughts and relationships consider software applications such as
Some students are more successful with electronic systems that can provide audible and/or graphical cues. They range from simple pager devices with reminder alarms to organizers that address specific activities such as homework assignments, steps of task, etc. Consider devices that the student can record into as well as playback.
Also check out the Low-tech Tools module for Specialty Devices.
Time Pad (Attainment)
Step Pad (Attainment)
Memo Talker (Attainment)
The Mobile Digital recorder
Specialized software has been developed for Personal Digital Assistants (PDA's) to assist students with memory impairments. This technology is becoming increasingly popular in school environments.
Schedule Assistant (AbleLink Technologies)
Pocket Coach (AbleLink Technologies)
When using either AbleLink Program, the buttons on the PDA become inactive; all selections and controls are made on the touch screen panel.
Strategies exist that visually capture ideas generated during brainstorming sessions and group them into concept maps that link ideas to each other in thematic and hierarchal ways. These visual diagrams can be used both in group and individual activities. Both no-tech and software applications are available for this highly effective organizational strategy:
Create Word Walls - The walls are created entirely of words that relate to different themes and activities. They are present in the classroom to help students identify and use them in reading and writing activities. Words can be moved as relationships are discussed. Use word cards/post it's or software programs to create concept maps, idea maps; web; matrix; venn diagram; continuum (timeline, shades, etc). Do it as a group activity or individually.
Software Resources for concept webbing and visual organizing
NOTE: Check out this Great Resource for Study Strategies using graphic organizers!
There are several available sources for "mnemonic devices" (tricks for remembering facts) that include repetition and association techniques for classroom rules, facts, lists and schedules. See how many of these you use!
Students with learning disabilities may experience problems when working in the computer environment due to cluttered screens, inconsistent navigation commands and remembering how to start a program or how to retrieve stored documents. Computer operating systems and browser features can help. Several other technologies have been developed specifically for this purpose.
The Voyager Suite (AbleLink)
Think and Link
Looking up the meaning and spelling of words can be a cumbersome yet necessary task. Technology can make it easier. Electronic devices are increasingly found in classrooms to help kids practice what they know. Kids with disabilities often benefit from their use in becoming more independent.
Portable Reference Devices
Students may experience difficulty getting to reference materials and using them. Hand held electronic talking (dictionary/thesaurus) devices are available to aid vocabulary development. The Franklin website offers a range of reference devices. A couple of classroom favorites are listed below:
Scanners are hand held devices that allow you to scan a single word or phrase and hear it spoken or look up its meaning.
Reading Pen: is designed for people with reading or learning disabilities, such as dyslexia. It is also useful for people who are learning English, or want the convenience of having a dictionary at their fingertips. Scan a word or line of text, hear the spoken English of the scanned text and its definition, and view the definition on the Pen.
Ultimate Talking Dictionary (Win only)
There are several reference aids (dictionaries, thesaurus, encyclopedias) on the Internet that can provide improved access to students with disabilities:
Encarta Online (Free abridged service)
Merriam-Webster Online (talking dictionary service optional)
Word Central Student Dictionary (includes Mad Libs)
Students with learning disabilities may have difficulty in situations involving more advanced social interactions. Addressing emotions resulting from various situations and appropriate reactions can be beneficial for some students. Here are some ways that simulate social implications and strategies.
Story Grammar Marker
TeachingLD is a service of the Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD) of the Council for Exceptional Children.