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  • Writer's pictureGray Matters Alliance

Benefits of Assistive Technology in the Classroom

Children, teens, and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities can struggle with classroom tasks and assignments necessary for academic success. For some, a hearing or visual impairment requires unique learning strategies and support tools. Others struggle with the pace of lessons or find it difficult to manage the fine motor tasks necessary to complete their coursework.

Each individual has unique needs that require specialized support systems. For children, teens, and young adults enrolled in a public school district, these accommodations are typically included in an Individualized Education Program (IEP). As new technology emerges in the consumer market, the advancements improve the accessibility of tools and resources that aid the learning experience.

Hearing Assistive Technology Devices

Hearing impairments range in severity from mild hearing loss to complete hearing loss. Some students with hearing impairments wear hearing aids, others have cochlear implants, and many communicate using American Sign Language (ASL).

For students with hearing aids or cochlear implants, assistive technology devices like FM systems improve the communication delivery between students and the teacher. FM systems utilize a microphone worn by the teacher; their voice is sent directly to the student’s hearing aids through a transmitter (this plugs into the hearing aid device). FM systems remove the background noise in the classroom, decrease distractions, and make learning easier.

Assistive Technology for Writing

Writing requires proper grasp and hand positioning to maneuver the pencil; some students struggle with fine motor skills and cannot master the proper grip to legibly write letters and numbers or even print their name. Writing is an essential skill for classroom lessons and assignments, and technology simplifies this task.

Dictation devices let students bypass traditional paper and pencil writing. Instead, a speaker listens to the student’s voice and dictates content on a screen. The data can be printed or emailed for grading.

Speech to Text Technology

Non-verbal students require assistance and accommodations to facilitate communication with their teachers. Gray Matters Alliance offers assistive technology devices that digitizes verbal communication and gives a voice to all students.

Eyegaze Communication Device serves as a user’s voice. Students look at a key on the screen of the Eyegaze device to type out their conversation or lessons. The screen captures the gaze of the user in less than two seconds. When the student has completed their message, they can activate the ‘speech’ button using their eyes. This button reads the text to the teacher.

Text to Speech Technology

Orcam Read is a literacy-focused assistive technology device that helps students with reading disorders like dyslexia or learning disorders that impact reading. This device looks like a pen; users point the device at the text, and Orcam reads the text aloud. Orcam Read also captures an entire page to narrate full sections.

Additional Assistive Technology Devices for the Classroom

Even everyday technology offers benefits for the classroom. For example, apps are available for tablets to assist with reading, grammar, math, and other subjects. Tablets also offer virtual assistants that understand basic commands.

Smartwatches–which are offered through Gray Matters Alliance–can help students stay on task. Watches offer alerts and other functionalities to assist students with attention issues related to ADHD or traumatic brain injuries.

Parents who need assistive technology resources for their children to even the playing field in the classroom can explore all the devices and technology offered through Gray Matters Alliance.

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