Assistive Technology for Communication Disorders

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  • 0:04 Communication Disorders
  • 0:36 A.T. for Communication…
  • 3:15 Importance of A.T.
  • 4:42 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Moon
Students with communication disorders often have difficulty participating in classroom activities because of their inability to make simple needs and wants known. This article discusses tools and assistive technologies that can be used in the classroom for students with communication disorders.

Communication Disorders

Sarah is a kindergartner this year. Her speech is really hard to understand, and her parents and IEP team are worried that teachers won't be able to understand her. Jay has recently had an injury that has caused hearing loss in one ear. He's found that his grades have been dropping as a result. The reason both students are having issues in the classroom is because they have communication disorders. Communication disorders refer to problems in how a person understands, expresses, or interacts with verbal and non-verbal language.

A.T. for Communication Disorders

Assistive technology, also known as A.T., is any tool, whether high tech or low tech, that supplements a person's inability to perform tasks, such as communicate, through the application of technology. Assistive technology for people with communication disorders may include any object, be it paper and pen or a tablet that generates spoken words at the push of a button, that assists a person in participating more efficiently in communication. In this lesson, we'll take a closer look at some examples of how assistive technology might improve communication in a K-12 classroom.

As we saw before, Sarah is a student entering kindergarten this year. Her speech/articulation is so unintelligible (hard to understand) that her IEP team is concerned that her friends and teachers won't understand her when she speaks. The team also wants to be sure that she can demonstrate the knowledge she already has. She's been in daycare for a full year now and is prepared with some great pre-kindergarten skills. The IEP team meets and decides to compile a communication notebook for her, which contains laminated sheets in a three-ring binder, with a list of numbers (1-10), letters (A-Z), colors, days of the week and months of the year, and pictures to represent 'help,' 'yes,' 'no,' 'bathroom,' 'like,' and 'please.' This way, Sarah can point to different items in the book as needed, and have her basic wants and needs met, while her peers and teacher grow more familiar with and better understand, the way her speech sounds. This is an example of low-tech A.T. for a student with communication disorders.

Our other character, Jay, is a student in high school who suffered a sports injury and now has a hearing loss in one ear. He sometimes misses parts of the lesson that is spoken by the teacher. An amplification system was placed in the classroom, so that his teacher can speak into a microphone and her voice will be amplified throughout the classroom. This way, Jay can hear all of the message as well as his friends who have hearing in the normal range. This is an example of high tech A.T. for a student with a communication disorder.

Along with these two examples, there are a number of devices and A.T. available for use in the classroom:

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