Learning disabilities like Dyslexia, ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), Processing Deficit etc; affect approximately 10% of children in the world, which means 2 to 3 students in every classroom has some form of learning disability. Such disabilities can affect students in a variety of ways, ranging from difficulty with reading to struggles with basic math problems. These issues can be difficult to sort through for students and teachers alike. With help, students can still succeed academically despite having a learning disability. Assistive technology can offer the support each student needs to help them become more proficient in the classroom.
Educators can help students to reach their potential by implementing some of these assistive technologies in the classroom. They can help in minimizing the deficits some children experience as a result of their learning disability.
Students with learning disabilities often struggle to communicate through words on paper. This can negatively impact their grades, particularly when it comes to essays. While they might have a firm grasp on the concept, it doesn’t show through when they attempt to commit those ideas to paper. The speech-to-text software can make this a little easier for students who have a language-based processing disability. They can say what they want to write out loud while their computer does the rest of the work for them. Softwares like these are often built into computers and tablets upon purchase.
Similar to the speech-to-text option, students with learning disabilities might benefit from having the text read out loud to them. Teachers don’t always have the time and ability to read each worksheet aloud, particularly if it will need to be repeated multiple times. Students can take control of their own learning with text-to-speech software that will read anything they need readout. Some programs like Voice Dream allow students to read Microsoft documents, PDFs, and other formats. Such programs also allow users to rewind the reading and control the reading speed.
Students with learning disabilities like dyscalculia might be able to benefit from a talking calculator. These devices read the numbers and symbols out loud which could help improve comprehension. Hearing the numbers makes it easier for students to organize them and verify whether the numbers are accurate before filling the answer in on the worksheet.
Reading is a normal part of the curriculum in every classroom, but it can be very challenging for students with learning disabilities. Instead of mandating that all students read a particular chapter, the educator could give children an option to listen to the audiobook. Subscription services such as Audible give kids the ability to hear these books read out loud to them. This gives them the opportunity to study the same materials as the rest of the class but in a format that works better for them.
Educators can help support students with learning disabilities with the right form of assistive technology. Consider what the specific learning disability of your students might be, and then make the best decision about what will work for them. This is a great way to motivate them to learn more and ease some of their frustration with schoolwork. With a great support system, children with learning disabilities can definitely succeed academically.