What is Assistive Technology?  

Assistive Technology (AT) is the term used to describe all of the tools, products and devices – from the simplest to the most complex – that can make a particular function easier or possible to perform. Some assistive technologies include screen readers, alternative keyboards, head pointing devices, voice recognition software, and screen magnification software
 
What Kinds of AT are Available for Individuals with Learning Disabilities?

Learning disabilities affect the way we take in and process information.  The most common types of AT used by people with learning difficulties are focused around reading, language, organizational skills, and processing information. Some examples are:

 

Tablets and Smart Phones  

For starters, both tablets and smart phones have great organizational features built in- think iCal, timers, inotes.
To further the use of tablets and smart phones, we can access an endless variety of apps. There are apps available for a wide range of learning difficulties and to support various executive functioning skills.
Below are a list of apps that can assist with various learning difficulties and executive functioning skills.
Some apps are free, some charge a fee, and some apps will have a free trial period.

 

ADHD/Attention Regulation

 

 Literacy

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Executive Functioning Skills

 

Visual Timers

 

Organizational

If you have a gmail account don’t forget about google calendar, google docs, google sheets, and gmail. Google makes a great system that is automatically updated across all of your devices. Also the google app is available for Ipad/Iphone.  
***Don’t forget about the reminders feature! You can set reminders before meetings, work, and events to send a message or alert to a phone or email address***

 

Screen Reading Software (Text-To-Speech)

Screen reading software (also referred to as text-to-speech software) will read text that appears on a computer screen to the user. Screen reading software is particularly useful for individuals with dyslexia, but is also used by people who are auditory learners. Some text-to-speech programs available are:

  1. Kurzweill 3000         
  2. Natural Reader         
  3. TextSpeech Pro  
 

Optical Character Recognition (OCR)  

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software will convert paper-based text into electronic text for use with screen readers. A scanner is needed to scan materials from book or other paper-based text. The OCR will then recognize the letter shapes through imaging analysis and convert them to electronic text. This technology is particularly useful for individuals who cannot access printed materials due to low vision or processing deficits. One program to consider is: 

  1. FreeOCR
 

Speech/Voice Recognition Software (Speech-To-Text)  

Speech/Voice recognition software (sometimes referred to as speech-to-text software) will convert the spoken word into text on a page, or into computer commands (i.e. opening files, or navigating software applications) via a microphone. Speech recognition software is particularly useful for individuals who have difficulties with written expressive and difficulty using keyboards to navigate software applications. Some speech-to-text programs available are:

  1. Dragon Dictate         
  2. TalkTyper                 
  3. Tazti          
 

Visual Organizers  

Visual Organizers are used to present ideas, concepts, information, and related concepts in the form of charts, tables, graphs, flowcharts, and diagrams. This technology is particularly useful for individuals who have difficulty processing, analyzing, and comprehending text-based information, but is also useful for people who are visual learners. Some resources include:

  1. Inspiration                
  2. Education Place
 

Word Prediction Software

Word prediction software will present possible words that a user is looking for while typing text, which the user can select with a mouse click. The software will also predict the next possible word based on frequency of usage and context. This technology is particularly useful for individuals with difficulty spelling, and for people who have difficulty typing. Some word prediction programs available are:

  1. Aurora Suite
  2. Co:Writer            
  3. TextHelp   
 

Electronic Organizers  

Electronic or digital organizers are hardware devices or software used for time management and resource organization. This technology is particularly useful for individuals who have difficulty with time management and organization, and is also used by people who are tactile learners and prefer opportunities where they can actually do something physically with the information they are to learn. Some electronic organizers include: 

  1. TeuxDeux (To Do)   
  2. Evernote                   
  3. Peat                           
  4. Mind Manager