Enhancing Education with Assistive Technology
By Ray Bendici
The ever-increasing pace and variety of technological developments continues to be a challenge for K12 assistive technology products.
As education content becomes available in more digital forms—videos, software programs and apps—adapting platforms for student use is critical to help those with special needs access information as easily as do their classmates. In addition, with more devices available, interproduct compatibility is front and center as companies try to ensure assistive technology products work with any and on every platform.
Moving forward, look for assistive technology devices to become even more user-friendly so students can use the products on their own, rather than needing to rely on an educator or an assistant. By doing so, individuals will be better prepared for life beyond K12 when they may not have as much professional support and will need to be more self-reliant.
On the plus side, hardware and software increasingly include assistive technology features as standard items. However, students continue to need better guidance in discovering and using these features in their devices, software and apps.
On the other side of the equation, manufacturers want to ensure that user experiences are the same on every device, be it a Chromebook or a smartphone. This prevents students from wasting time and effort trying to adapt to new platforms and allows them to focus exclusively on learning.
LanguageLinks to Literacy; Laureate
This blended curriculum is designed for students ages 3 and up who have language delays, including students with intellectual disability and autism. The package includes 40 scripted lessons, software and student activity books, as well as a picture book to use in delivering lessons. The curriculum also incorporates systematic instruction and ongoing assessments.
Clarifye Digital Eye Exam; LensCrafters
The new Clarifye digital eye exam shows parents how their children see and how any vision problems can be corrected. During the exam, corneal curvature is mapped, which is used in assessing vision. The new 360-degree video experience, See How Your Child Sees, also shows how one in four children live with undiagnosed vision problems. www.lenscrafters.com
Sci-Voice Talking LabQuest2
The Sci-Voice Talking LabQuest2 is a wireless data collection device that allows visually impaired students to take science courses and perform independently in the laboratory. It gathers data from more than 70 sensors and uses text-to-speech technology to speak results to students. The kit also includes a USB keyboard and electronic lab manuals.
AbleNet Hook+ iOS Switch Interface; AbleNet
The Hook+ iOS Switch on-screen interface allows students with physical disabilities to control almost any feature on their device without having to physically touch the screen. This Apple-certified switch interface also provides a wired connection to an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch for one to four individual switches.
Kurzweil3000.com; Kurzweil Education
A new brainstorming tool to encourage student creativity has been added to this web-based, text-to-speech assistive software. Other recent additions include word prediction, print to PDF, and the extraction of note highlights to an outline. Combined with reading, translation and study features, the software now provides full literacy support for devices with iOS/Android, Windows, Mac and Chromebooks. www.kurzweiledu.com
Learning Ally Link
This educational reading app is for students who learn through listening, with more than 80,000 human-narrated audiobooks and audio textbooks for dyslexic, blind and visually impaired readers. The new mobile app allows users to add books from a device and create and edit notes associated with bookmarks. The VOICEtext format includes on-screen highlighted text synced with audio narration.
WordQ for Google Chrome
WordQ is a new, simple text-editing app that features word prediction and speech feedback. As users type, suggested words display at the bottom of the window to make the writing process easier. The proofread feature enables written text to be repeated aloud. Word Q also includes a speech-recognition feature for transferring spoken words to text.
The platform is designed to help institutions and instructors make course content more accessible for learners. It automatically checks posted course materials for accessibility issues and, through advanced machine learning algorithms, generates files in different formats to assist students who may need alternatives, such as those who are visually impaired. Supplemental file formats include Semantic HTML, Tagged PDF, Audio and Electronic Braille.
Fluency Tutor for Google
This new Chrome app allows students to record themselves reading and to share that content with their teachers who can provide immediate feedback. Designed for struggling and reluctant readers, as well as students learning English as a second language, it integrates seamlessly with Google Drive and Classroom.
Listen’s new generation of receivers are designed to improve hearing in venues ranging from classrooms to large auditoriums. Available in 72 MHz, 216 MHz and infrared, these assistive listening devices are lightweight, compact and now have extended battery life. Integrated neck loops/lanyards are available for those with hearing aids featuring telecoils.
This article was originally published on districtadministration.com