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Achieving Success Through Assistive Technology

Achieving Success Using
Assistive Technology
© Marianne Salvo and Kim Slomka, 2009
Teacher Notes
Information on these slides is intended to guide
you in identifying assistive technologies to help
your students function more effectively.
The websites provided are a starting point and are
not meant to be comprehensive. You should
preview these sites to determine which are most
appropriate for supporting your students’ learning.
This resource was developed through generous support from the Janice Thomson
Memorial Grant program that commemorates the goals Janice Thomson achieved
as an educator. (See for more details.)
Find the tools that meet
your students’ needs.
Assistive Technology refers to tools that help all students
learn effectively. When creating an AT tool kit, a student
needs to think about:
What tools meet my needs so that
I can function more effectively?
Many assistive
technology tools
can be found on
the Internet.
Specific Benefits for
Literacy and Numeracy
Assistive technology can specifically address reading, writing, and
numeracy challenges.
Edyburn, 2000, 2003
AT is necessary for some students in the
same way that eyeglasses or other aids
are necessary for some students.
Assistive Technologies include:
Word processing that can address
fine motor difficulties.
Spell-check tools that can reduce
some spelling difficulties.
Importing data from spreadsheets
to graphs and charts to allow
students to produce a higher
quality of work, reinforcing the
value of published writing.
Did You Know?
Many word
processors have
features, such as
auto-correct and
that are helpful.
Concrete Instructional Tools
Students who learn differently can better encode and retrieve new information if
it is presented in a structured way (e.g., graphic organizer).
DiCecco & Gleason, 2002
Graphic organizers are visual aids that can be
helpful in demonstrating how concepts are
connected or related. These tools can be helpful
to those who have difficulty in making inferences
or understanding relationships among the main
ideas and supporting details.
Visual Organizers
Brain-based research shows that visual organizers, such
as concept maps, can be highly effective in helping
students who struggle with reading and writing.
Think Literacy: Cross-Curricular Approaches, Grades 7-12
“Engaging in Reading: Sorting Ideas Using a Concept Map,” p. 48
Website suggestions:
Reading Supports
A wide range of software tools supports
reading across different learning abilities and
styles. Three types of effective technological
supports are Optical Character Recognition
(OCR) for scanning text, speech synthesis of
text (text-to-speech), and the talking thesaurus
found in most word-processing programs.
Text-to-Speech Software
Did You Know?
You can use text-to-speech software for a wide variety of tasks
including class work or reading for fun. You can find grammatical
mistakes in written work by listening along as the computer reads the
work back to you. It can also help with the correct pronunciation of
certain words or with reading comprehension.
Website suggestions:
Promoting Oral Communication
Students can learn key aspects of language and
new vocabulary that are related to the theme or
subject, by:
 listening to recorded texts (audio books)
 listening to new vocabulary (talking dictionary)
Website suggestions:
Did You Know?
You can do a search for
audio books online and
find books in MP3 format.
Promoting Written Communication
Students can use audio-recording software to
record their compositions in an alternative format.
Website suggestion:
Using Peer Editors
Students may have difficulty with aspects of the
written language including grammar, spelling,
punctuation, and organization. A writing buddy can be
critical support for the student with the writing process.
Students can use electronic peer editors – this
supports group work and peer editing skills as they
share their documents and invite others to be
Some word processors have a feature that allows for
tracking revisions in a document.
Website suggestion:
AT Tools for Writing
Word-prediction software  Some programs
have built-in word completion capability.
Voice-to-text software allows students to talk to
the computer and watch spoken words appear in
documents, email, and instant messages.
You need a high-quality headset
with a microphone to train the
program to recognize your voice.
Website suggestion:
AT Tools for Numeracy
Talking calculators that vocalize data and
resulting calculations through speech
On-screen graphing calculator programs
with speech synthesis
Software that allows students to manipulate
objects and geometric shapes
Website suggestion:
More AT Tools for Numeracy
Internet math sites for the development of
numeracy skills
Textbooks in PDF  Publishers may have an
electronic version of the textbook available.
Programs for recording video of on-screen action
Website suggestions:
AT Tools for Organizing
Free online calendars let you schedule
events, and share your schedule with friends
and family. You can choose to be reminded of
upcoming events by email or pop-ups.
There are online ‘assignment calculators’ to
help break down tasks for research projects.
Website suggestions:
E-filing Electronic Materials
Students can learn how to manage time and
assimilate information more effectively.
Students can use an electronic online filing
system as a central place to access all of their
electronic materials.
Keeping materials organized helps students
keep all their class work and homework papers
in one place.
Reflecting on the Use of AT in the Classroom
About students:
What are students’ needs and abilities (strength, interest, learning style)?
Why does a student need assistive technology?
(How will the AT tool assist the student in having greater success in
performing the task?)
What are the major areas of concern that need to be addressed?
About the learning environment:
Where and when will the student use assistive technology (classroom,
home, library)?
What supports and resources are available?
How can the student access a computer for ease of use for learning and
instructional demands?
About tasks:
What does the student need to be able to do that is difficult at this time?
What is the expected level of independence?
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