Assistive technology (AT) refers to any device that assists the students with a variety of exceptional learning. Students with physical disabilities, or students who have a problem transmitting impulses from sense organs to nerve centers, cognition, or the vision impaired, can perform their daily tasks which they could never accomplish otherwise in same manner or same amount of time with the help of AT. There are various Assistive Technologies available for every disability, and my goal in this paper is to discuss these technologies, the benefits of using these technologies to address the academic needs of exceptional learners.
The 1997 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments (IDEA) require that AT devices and services be considered for each student when developing his or her Individualized Education Program (Families and Advocates Partnership for Education, 2001, pp. 1-2). There is assistive technology to help an individual with reading, writing, remembering, walking, sitting, seeing, hearing, and communicating. Any student who needs help with any of these life functions may benefit significantly from the use of assistive technology (Reed, 2007). The use of Assistive technology for exceptional learning students provides free will at home, school and work. With the help of these devices they receive an enriched experience that promotes quality in the learning environment, and decreases the requirement for other educational material. For example, the captioning method for the hearing impaired, in which the audio content of webcast, film, DVD, live event or other production is converted into text and the text is displayed on screen on the monitor. The textbooks are converted into digital media in the form of DVD’s and e-books, and the reading material is provided in various ways that allows students to understand it with text-over-speech or speech synthesizers, or larger fonts.
There are low tech and high tech devices designed for various disabilities that have its own benefits. The low tech devices that may work without batteries or cords help in daily functioning like getting dressed, eating, and hooking up the buttons on the dress and so on. The magnifying devices for the vision impaired benefit them read better. There are also the Braille books and embossers for those who find it difficult to read. The wheel chairs, motorized wheelchairs, standing wheelchairs, crutches, and active standers are the mobility aids that benefit the students with physical disabilities to actively perform their daily tasks and also involve in any physical activities. The alternative keyboards, joysticks, trackballs, On-screen keyboard and electronic pointing devices allow the students with exceptional learning to control the computers rather than using the standard keyboards or pointing devices. There are also many educational applications and software programs freely available for download that can be used on the mobile.
There are innumerable other examples that make up the assistive technology, and all these devices make a huge positive impact in a person’s quality of life. A student can be less dependent on others to perform all the duties as a normal person would do. There are extensive varieties of assisted technology devices in the market that provides help in many ways to the people who need them. This technology allows students to interact normally with the other students who do not have any disabilities, and can provide an opportunity in the fields that are granted for students without disabilities, and these devices boost self-confidence and a positive attitude towards life by reducing the dependency on others.
Families and Advocates Partnership for Education. (2001). 1997 Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act Amendments increase access to technology for students. Retrieved June
15, 2004 from http://www.fape.org/pubs/FAPE-13.pdf
Reed, Penny R., (2007), A Resource Guide For Teachers and Administrators About Assistive
Technology, Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative