Assistive Technology for Disabled Students

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  • 0:02 What Is Assistive Technology?
  • 1:01 Visual Impairment Support
  • 1:53 Physical Impairment Support
  • 2:43 Hearing Impairment Support
  • 3:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Assistive technology gives disabled students the tools they need to thrive in the classroom. This lesson explores some common examples of assistive technology.

What Is Assistive Technology?

The Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that disabled and special needs students in America receive a free education that meets their unique needs. Adaptive and assistive technologies in the classroom support success in the education environment by creating opportunities for independence, mastery, and increased performance.

Assistive technology is any device that supports the needs of the student to allow for independence and self accomplishment in completing activities and a boost in self esteem. These devices adapt to the unique needs of the individual student.

The assistive technology utilized in the classroom will depend on the type of need or disability of the student. We'll examine some of the most common types in this lesson. However, the ones we'll discuss are by no means all-inclusive as there are countless types of physical, mental, and learning disabilities that can be supported with assistive technologies.

Visual Impairment Support

We'll first look at assistive technology for visual impairment support. As an example, let's use Sally, a third grade student who has been classified as visually impaired. Sally struggles to read books and complete assignments due to her disability. How can we help Sally succeed in the classroom?

Students who are visually impaired will likely struggle in a traditional classroom. Viewing things on the board, reading textbooks, and participating in activities all become harder with limited vision. Assistive technology can bridge this gap for students.

There are many computer programs or devices designed to assist visually impaired students by converting text to audio or braille. Taking notes during a lecture is not practical for a visually impaired student, so one such program converts audio to braille output. This makes studying a snap as students have the class discussion or lecture literally at their fingertips in braille.

Physical Impairment Support

Assistive technology is also helpful for physical impairment support. For example, Jordan is a fifth grade student who is obsessed with sports. However, Jordan rarely gets to participate in athletics because he has a physical disability that limits his movement. Physical impairments or disabilities can range from mild to severe restrictions of mobility and motor control. How can we increase Jordan's participation in physical education?

Motorized chairs or scooters enable students to experience independence and newfound freedom in mobility. Another device designed to support hand mobility is easily constructed by punching a pencil through a tennis ball. The ball becomes a hand support and enables students to write freely. This idea can also be used with eating utensils and toothbrushes to provide physically disabled students the opportunity for self-care.

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