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. Before exploring the resources below, watch VideoAmy's "Five-Minute Film Festival: The Power of Assistive Technology," to better understand how technology can empower kids and help them build independence.
- Assistive Technology Module: To review the basics, check out this great overview of assistive technology for classroom teachers. (IRIS Center/Vanderbilt University)
- Assistive Technology: Find general information on assistive technology and accessible educational materials, including relevant federal laws. Assistive Technology Resources is a comprehensive list of national organizations, conferences, state resources, and transition resources. (National Center on Accessible Educational Materials)
- AEM Navigator: Explore a decision-making tool -- designed for use by Individualized Education Program teams -- that can help determine the need, selection, acquisition, and use of accessible educational materials. (National Center on Accessible Educational Materials)
- Assistive Technology Basics: Discover a variety of resources for parents, including information about tool types and tips on how to work with schools. (Understood.org)
- Assistive Technology and Learning Disabilities: Listen to helpful advice for families in this video from the National Center for Learning Disabilities. (NCLD)
Finding Assistive Technology
Explore the following websites for information about specific technologies and guidance on finding appropriate tools.
- TechMatrix: Search a database of over 400 assistive and educational technology tools and resources. The products are searchable by content area, grade level, IDEA disability category, and type of instructional support. (U.S Department of Education/American Institutes for Research)
- Consumer Guide for School Administrators: Download TechMatrix's useful consumer guide for guidance on technology purchases. Also available are research articles on the theory and practice of using technology to improve student learning. (National Center for Technology Innovation and the Center for Implementing Technology in Education)
- Learning Difficulties & Special Needs Guide: Explore product recommendations for parents whose kids struggle with traditional learning. (Common Sense Media)
- Great Special Ed Apps and Sites: Take a look at a collection of reviews recommended by educators and experts working with children with special needs and learning differences. (Common Sense Education)
Tips and Tools
- Social-Emotional Apps for Special Ed: Find apps to help students of all ages build emotional literacy, learn self-regulation, and focus on problem solving and task planning. (Edutopia, 2015)
- Apps to Support Diverse Learners in the Classroom: Find apps to help diverse learners gamify tasks, learn social cues, prioritize, strengthen math skills, and sharpen language abilities. (Edutopia, 2015)
- It's a Snap! 4 Ways to Use Music With Special Needs Students: Discover ways to supplement visuals with music, teach through students' favorite songs, emphasize rhythm, and generalize lessons into non-musical settings. (Edutopia, 2014)
- Creating a "Least Restrictive Environment" with Mobile Devices: See how mobile devices can help create a "least restrictive environment," not only for students with disabilities, but for everyone else as well. (Edutopia, 2013)
- Dictation Technology Will Change Writing Instruction: Consider this thoughtful examination of how dictation technology is likely to change the future of writing instruction. (Edutopia, 2013)
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.
Resources to Address Specific Challenges
- Year-Round Resources for Autism: Explore resources like autism superheroes and "talking" Bluetooth-enabled stuffed animals to help children on the autism spectrum understand their differences and communicate with others. (Edutopia, 2016)
- School-as-Studio Immerses Students in Creative Problem Solving: Read about 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. (Edutopia, 2015)
- Dyslexia in the General Education Classroom: Take a look at a list of common and helpful accommodations for students with dyslexia, including assistive-technology tools. (Edutopia, 2014)
- Technology-Rich Literacy Experience for Students With Reading Disabilities: Learn about Udio, an online environment designed to engage and support middle school students who face literacy challenges. (Edutopia, 2014)
- Design Challenge: DIY Assistive Game Controllers: Discover four of many possible ways for transforming standard video games into assistive-technology tools that students of any ability can enjoy. (Edutopia, 2014)
- Assistive Technology and the 1:1 Student: In a story about Burlington High's 1:1 program, see how an iPad was used to assist one student with her visual impairment. (Edutopia, 2012)
Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
- What is UDL?: Understand the basics of universal design for learning. (National Center of Universal Design for Learning)
- UDL and Technology: Read about the relationship between UDL and technology. UDL strategies do not replace the need for AT, but UDL and AT can be complementary. (National Center of Universal Design for Learning)
- Universal Design for Learning: What It Is and How It Works: Explore key takeaways for parents, including information about advocating for children. (Understood.org)
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