Discover websites, blogs, articles, and videos that provide information and tools related to understanding, selecting, and assessing assistive technology.
Originally Published: December 9, 2013 | Updated: October 26, 2015
This guide to assistive technology will help you navigate some of the available websites, resources, and tools related to assistive technology and accessible educational materials -- from getting started, to tips, to finding appropriate technology and need-specific resources. Before you dive in, you may want to watch VideoAmy's "Five-Minute Film Festival: The Power of Assistive Technology."
Whether low-tech, high-tech, or somewhere in between, assistive technology and related services play an important role in reducing barriers to learning for students with a variety of special needs and challenges. Parents and educators can work together to examine the role technology can play in helping young people build independence.
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Finding Assistive Technology
Explore the following websites for information about specific technologies and guidance on finding appropriate tools.
- TechMatrix, funded through a grant by the U.S. Department of Education and maintained by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), is a searchable database of over 400 assistive and educational technology tools and resources. The products are searchable by content area, grade level, IDEA disability category, and the type of instructional support.
- TechMatrix also provides a useful consumer guide for school administrators looking to purchase technology and collects research articles on the theory and practice of using technology to improve student learning.
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Tips and Tools
- Apps to Support Diverse Learners in the Classroom, by Chester Goad (2015)
Apps can help diverse learners by gamifying their tasks, coaching them on social cues, prioritizing their time, strengthening their math skills, and sharpening their language abilities.
- Hands-On Apps for Diverse Learners, by Matthew Farber (2015)
Diverse learners demonstrate engagement and creativity when introduced to interactive, tech-based learning tools through the game jam model of exploration.
- It's a Snap! 4 Ways to Use Music With Special Needs Students, by Michelle Lazar, MA, MT-BC (2014)
Special education teachers should consider music in their classrooms to supplement visuals, teach through students' favorite songs, emphasize rhythm, and generalize lessons into non-musical settings. Michelle Lazar discusses some of the musical tools available to improve student comprehension.
- Creating a "Least Restrictive Environment" with Mobile Devices, by Beth Holland (2013)
Holland of EdTechTeacher looks at how mobile devices can help create a "least restrictive environment," not only for students with disabilities, but for everyone else as well.
- Dictation Technology Will Change Writing Instruction, by Robert Rosenberger (2013)
Rosenberger, assistant professor of philosophy at Georgia Institute of Technology's School of Public Policy, offers a thoughtful examination of how dictation technology is likely to change the future of writing instruction.
- Assistive Technology: Enhanced Learning for All, by Lisa Wahl (2003)
Assistive technology can help students with a range of disabilities to excel. In this article, Wahl provides several examples of how technology can be used to support the learning experiences of students with unique challenges.
Edutopia’s community is another great source of tips and tools. "The Ultimate Guide to Assistive Technology for Students With Special Needs," a post by Rebecca Dean, is a good place to start. Dean describes some of the many resources available to help support children experiencing challenges with reading, writing, math, listening, memory, and organization.
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- Dyslexia in the General Education Classroom, by Kelli Sandman-Hurley, Ed.D. (2014)
In order to accommodate students with dyslexia, general education teachers must understand what the condition is and what alternate means work best for accessing information. Sandman-Hurley has prepared a list of common and helpful accommodations, including assistive-technology tools.
- Technology-Rich Literacy Experience for Students With Reading Disabilities, by Ted Hasselbring (2014)
Hasselbring, a research professor of special education at Vanderbilt University, introduces Udio, an online environment designed to engage and support middle school students who face literacy challenges.
- School-as-Studio Immerses Students in Creative Problem Solving, by Suzie Boss (2015)
Launched in 2010 by a trio of bold thinkers from MIT, NuVu Studio is a secondary school that boasts recent student projects focused on everything from futuristic fashion to biotechnology. Boss describes a "hack your wheelchair" studio whereby a student worked together with teammates to make his wheelchair easier to propel and better equipped for wet weather.
- Design Challenge: DIY Assistive Game Controllers, by Matthew Farber (2014)
Here are four of many possible ways for transforming standard video games into assistive-technology tools that students of any ability can enjoy.
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Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
For information on the basics of universal design for learning (UDL), take a look at What is UDL? from the National Center on Universal Design for Learning. The role of technology in UDL is explored on their UDL and Technology page. UDL strategies do not replace the need for AT, but UDL and AT can be complementary. For a concise illustration of the relationship between UDL and AT, check out this handy chart, AT and UDL in Partnership, from Maryland Learning Links. Written with a parent audience in mind, "Universal Design for Learning: What It Is and How It Works" from Understood.org is another great resource.
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