Easy Ways to Bring Assistive Technology Into Your Classroom
Teaching activities that inspire kids to read, write, speak, play, move, and socialize need a significant amount of time and work on the part of teachers to develop. They make every effort to ensure that all kids have opportunities to grow and learn, however, children with disabilities may encounter difficulties in participating in classroom activities due to their disability. Assistive technology is a collection of tools that have been developed to enable these kids to participate fully and naturally in inclusive learning environments. Teachers can use assistive technology to help students overcome these challenges.
At its most basic level, assistive technology (AT) is “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether purchased commercially off the shelf or customized,” that is used to help people with disabilities “increase, maintain, or improve their functional capacities.” AT comprises a wide range of tools that are low-tech, medium-tech, and high-tech in nature. Some assistive technology tools are free, while others are only a few hundred dollars. Others are rather inexpensive. Many teachers use various tools that can be classified as assistive technology (AT), even if they don’t think of them that much.
SIMPLE WAYS TO INCORPORATE ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY
Closed-captioning in videos is defined as follows: Closing captions in all videos, including YouTube and GoNoodle, can help students make connections between textual and aural representations of language by incorporating or turning on closed captioning. Captioning is an assistive technology feature that is both free and simple to use: simply press the CC button underneath a video to enable captioning to be displayed.
Individuals who have trouble digesting speech and the auditory components of visual media benefit from closed-captioning because it fills in the gaps in their knowledge. It is essential for children who are deaf or hard of hearing, and it can help kids improve their reading skills.
Graphic organizers: Graphic organizers are a low-tech assistive technology tool that can be used to provide writing support to kids in elementary, middle, and high school who have dysgraphia, executive function issues, and other learning challenges.
The visual organizing of one’s thoughts and ideas can be beneficial to students who have executive function issues and struggle with organization. Graphic organizers, for example, “clarify implicit relationships present within the text in a manner that text alone may not.” The use of graphic organizers can also be beneficial for kids who have dysgraphia (a condition that affects handwriting and fine motor abilities, as well as word spacing and the general ability to express ideas and thoughts on paper).
This tool can assist struggling writers in demonstrating their knowledge and organizing their thoughts before they begin writing, which can make the process of writing less daunting. Having printed graphic organizers available in your classroom for all students is a simple approach to providing an assistive technology aid to struggling writers of all ages who are experiencing difficulty with their writing.
The ability to provide a variety of seating alternatives in the classroom is beneficial for students to assist them to concentrate on their studies and learn more effectively. Beanbag chairs, yoga balls, wobble stools, carpet squares, and wedges for active sitting are all examples of supported seating. Active sitting is defined as “seating that naturally encourages us to stay in motion, rather than passively relaxing into a slouch or attempting to rigidly hold a ‘correct’ pose.”
My daughter’s fifth-grade classroom includes several seating options, and one of her favorite seats is fashioned after an old wooden train bench complete with pillows and cushions. Reading nooks with beach chairs were provided in her third-grade classroom. Although metal chairs set in rows can be effective in our classrooms, including students in the seating design process—for example, by having them assist in arranging the space or developing rules for how to use different seating options—can generate enthusiasm and engagement.
Visual timers: For students with executive function difficulties or autism spectrum disorders, time might be abstract. It is possible for students to grow worried when a teacher tells them, “You have 10 minutes left to work on this test.” Visual timers, which are devices that make the concept of time easier to understand and monitor by providing an accurate indication of how much time has elapsed for tasks, can help students prepare for transitions and reduce test anxiety because they can see how much time is left at a glance, can help students prepare for transitions and reduce test anxiety.
Teachers can use a physical visual timer on their desk or somewhere else in the front of the classroom, or they can project one on their interactive whiteboard during timed class activities, projects, or tests to keep students on track.
Students with print difficulties, such as dyslexia, may find it difficult to complete written tasks. Speech-to-text software can help. With Google Docs, on the other hand, every student—those who have and do not have disabilities—has access to an extremely useful free feature called voice typing, which can be found under the Tools tab. (Dragon Dictation and VoiceNote are two related tools that are also worth experimenting with.
It is a type of assistive technology that allows students and teachers to dictate into a computer and watch their words emerge as text on a computer screen, rather than having to type their words. Students with and without impairments have expressed interest in using this technology, according to my observations.
Teachers may want to designate a location in the classroom for voice typing, preferably in a corner where the computer microphone will not pick up any background noise from the class. Vocal typing should not be associated with any negative connotations if all pupils get the opportunity to rotate through this area.