Learning disabilities affect about 15 percent of the population and can have a profound impact on individuals and families. People with learning disabilities are just as smart (and sometimes smarter) than their peers, but have difficulty learning in conventional school settings.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law, defines a learning disability as a condition when a child’s achievement is substantially below what one might expect for that child. Learning disabilities do not include problems that are primarily the result of intellectual disabilities, emotional disturbance, or visual, hearing, emotional or intellectual disabilities.
According to Rehabilitation Council of India, The LD movement in India is of more recent origin and comparable today with that of the western LD movement of nearly half a century ago. In the eastern world, LD was earlier considered a problem of English speaking countries. The apparent lower incidence of these types of difficulties resulted in a relative lack of concern about LD in Asian countries such as India and China. Reports of lower incidences of LD in the eastern world were attributed by Western scholars to the general lack of awareness and sensitivity among educationists. The specific difficulties faced by children learning to read were attributed to the overcrowded classrooms. At the same time, reports of the high incidence of problems associated with the acquisition of reading in Western countries was attributed by easterners to the vagaries and complex nature of alphabetic writing systems such as English (Karanth, 2002). http://www.rehabcouncil.nic.in/writereaddata/ld.pdf
These children with Learning Disability (LD) can overcome their challenges faced due to disability with the help of Assistive Technology, in the past two decades there is an increase in the awareness of the problem and the availability of AT that can help people with LD
Definition of Assistive Technology
There are various definitions given for Assistive Technology over the years, it’s evident from studies already done that it’s any equipment or aide that helps individuals with disabilities
Assistive Technology (AT) is a set of tools that individuals with disabilities can access during school and work (Bryant & Byrant, 1998; Dyal, Carpenter & Wright 2009) Netherton and Deal (2006) define assistive technology as “is any piece of equipment or device that may be used by a person with a disability to perform specific tasks, improve functional capabilities, and become more independent.
Assistive technology devices are identified in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004 as:
Any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities. The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of such device. (Authority 20 U.S.C. 1401(1))
Benefits of Assistive Technology
Assistive technology promotes greater independence by enabling people to perform tasks that they were formerly unable to accomplish, or had great difficulty accomplishing, by providing enhancements to, or changing methods of interacting with, the technology needed to accomplish such tasks.
Due to assistive technology, people with disabilities have an opportunity of a more positive and easygoing lifestyle, with an increase in “social participation,” “security and control,” and a greater chance to “reduce institutional costs without significantly increasing household expenses.” (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Assistive Technology and Learning Disabilities: Today’s Realities and Tomorrow’s Promises
Rena B. Lewis
JOURNAL OF LEARNING DISABILITIES VOLUME 31, NUMBER 1, JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1998, PAGES 16-26, 54
Many forms of technology, both “high” and “low can help individuals with learning disabilities capitalize on their strengths and bypass, or compensate for, their disabilities. This article surveys the current status of assistive technology for this population and reflects on future promises and potential problems. In addition, a model is presented for conceptualizing assistive technology in terms of the types of barriers it helps persons with disabilities to surmount. Several current technologies are described and the research supporting their effectiveness reviewed: word processing, computer-based instruction in reading and other academic areas, interactive videodisc interventions for math, and technologies for daily life. In conclusion, three themes related to the future success of assistive technology applications are discussed: equity of access to technology; ease of technology use; and emergent technologies, such as virtual reality.
Students with Learning Disabilities: The Effectiveness of Using Assistive Technology
By Andrea Messmer
School of Education, St John Fisher College
The study focuses on the effectiveness of assistive technology devices and software in helping students with learning disabilities. Students with reading and writing disabilities experience difficulties with literacy tasks throughout the school day. This study consisted of interviewing an assistive technology specialist and analyzing student work samples. The outcome of this study is that the use of assistive technology supports help to level the playing field for these students. The findings of the study impact general education teachers, special educators, and parents/ guardians.
Word Processing as an Assistive Technology Tool for Enhancing Academic Outcomes of Students with Writing Disabilities in the General Classroom
By Orit E. Hetzroni and Betty Shrieber
This study investigated the use of a word processor for enhancing the academic outcomes of three students with writing disabilities in a junior high school. A single-subject ABAB design was used to compare academic output produced during class time with and without a computer equipped with a word processor. The number of spelling errors, the number of reading errors, and the number of words used per text were counted, and the overall structure and organization of text were examined across all in-class materials. The data demonstrated a clear difference between handwritten and computer phases. In traditional paper-and-pencil phases, students produced outcomes that had more spelling mistakes, more reading errors, and lower overall quality of organization and structure in comparison with the phases in which a computer equipped with a word processor was used. The results did not indicate any noticeable difference in the number of words per text. Implications and future research directions are discussed.
Assistive Technologies for Reading
Ted S. Hasselbring and Margaret E. Bausch
December 2005/January 2006 | Volume 63 | Number 4 Learning in the Digital Age
Assistive Technologies for Literacy
Literacy is one area in which well-applied assistive technologies can act as a lifeline to students with learning disabilities. As many as 8 of 10 students with learning disabilities have reading problems so significant that they cannot read and understand grade-level material (Lerner, 2003). Learning disabilities often interfere with students’ ability to grasp principles of phonetics, decode text, or comprehend what they read. In our work with schools, we have seen assistive technology break down barriers to full literacy in two ways: as a reading support, meaning that computer-based applications help students with learning disabilities successfully access grade level text as they read, and as a reading intervention, meaning that the technology helps students strengthen and improve their overall reading skills. Supportive assistive technology approaches should work symbiotically with learning interventions. In an ideal situation, students can use an assistive technology intervention to continually improve their reading skills while at the same time taking advantage of a reading support to provide the scaffolding necessary to read text at their grade level.
Providing Reading Supports
In 2000, the Kentucky Department of Education embarked on a technology-based initiative to help students with disabilities become more independent when reading grade-level text. The program centered on an assistive technology called text-reader software that uses synthetic speech to read text aloud while the same text is highlighted on a computer screen. After evaluating various text-reader tools, the Kentucky Department of Education selected a software program called Read & Write Gold.1 Kentucky negotiated an agreement with TextHELP, makers of Read & Write Gold, to provide a discount for Kentucky schools; 95 percent of Kentucky’s public schools now have a site license for this product. Read & Write Gold software provides text-to-speech output of individual words, sentences, or paragraphs. It allows the student to customize the program and select personal preferences for the text-to-speech output, such as voice gender, speed, and pitch. The voice reading aloud may be heard through computer speakers or through personal headphones. As the name implies, Read & Write Gold also provides computerized support for writing, another area of difficulty for many students with learning disabilities. Perhaps the most powerful writing feature is word prediction. As a student is composing on the computer, the computer attempts to predict, on the basis of the context or the first few letters typed by the student, the word that the student is reaching for, and provides several choices. Such support often dramatically speeds up the student’s composition process. Because students with learning disabilities frequently skip words or misread written text even in their own compositions, the text-reader feature of Read & Write Gold can be especially useful. At any point during the writing process, the student can direct the computer to read back portions of the text. When students with learning disabilities can hear what they have written, their composing and editing labors are lessened. To a large extent, the success of the Kentucky project has hinged on making computer-readable school texts available to Kentucky’s students. Recent legislation amends the state’s textbook adoption law to provide preferential procurement status to textbook publishers that supply digital versions of their textbooks (Casebier, 2002).
Use of Computer Technology to Help Students with Special Needs
Ted S. Hasselbring Candyce H.Williams Glaser
Millions of students across the United States cannot benefit fully from a traditional educational program because they have a disability that impairs their ability to participate in a typical classroom environment. For these students, computer-based technologies can play an especially important role. Not only can computer technology facilitate a broader range of educational activities to meet a variety of needs for students with mild learning disorders, but adaptive technology now exists than can enable even those students with severe disabilities to become active learners in the classroom alongside their peers who do not have disabilities. This article provides an overview of the role computer technology can play in promoting the education of children with special needs within the regular classroom. For example, use of computer technology for word processing, communication, research, and multimedia projects can help the three million students with specific learning and emotional disorders keep up with their nondisabled peers. Computer technology has also enhanced the development of sophisticated devices that can assist the two million students with more severe disabilities in overcoming a wide range of limitations that hinder classroom participation––from speech and hearing impairments to blindness and severe physical disabilities. However, many teachers are not adequately trained on how to use technology effectively in their classrooms, and the cost of the technology is a serious consideration for all schools. Thus, although computer technology has the potential to act as an equalizer by freeing many students from their disabilities, the barriers of inadequate training and cost must first be overcome before more widespread use can become a reality.
Barriers to the use of assistive technology for children with multiple disabilities
JODIE COPLEY Division of Occupational Therapy, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Australia JENNY ZIVIANI Division of Occupational Therapy, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Australia
Occupational Therapy International, 11(4), 229-243, 2004 © Whurr Publishers Ltd
Assistive technology has aided children with multiple disabilities to improve access and participation in their school and home environments. Effective educational outcomes from assistive technology use are dependent upon a coordinated assessment and implementation process. The literature on assistive technology with children was reviewed in order to identify current barriers to its effective integration within schools. These barriers were found to include lack of appropriate staff training and support, negative staff attitudes, inadequate assessment and planning processes, insufficient funding, difficulties procuring and managing equipment, and time constraints. A team model for assistive technology assessment and planning is proposed to optimize the educational goal achievement of children with multiple disabilities. Such a model can help target the allocation of occupational therapy resources in schools to best promote educational and broader functional outcomes from assistive technology use.
Using Assistive Technology Adaptations to Include Students with Learning Disabilities in Cooperative Learning Activities
Diane Pedrotty Bryant, Brian R. Bryant
First Published January 1, 1998 Research Article
Cooperative learning (CD is a common instructional arrangement that is used by classroom teachers to foster academic achievement and social acceptance of students with and without learning disabilities. Cooperative learning is appealing to classroom teachers because it can provide an opportunity for more instruction and feedback by peers than can be provided by teachers to individual students who require extra assistance. Recent studies suggest that students with LD may need adaptations during cooperative learning activities. The use of assistive technology adaptations may be necessary to help some students with LD compensate for their specific learning difficulties so that they can engage more readily in cooperative learning activities. A process for integrating technology adaptations into cooperative learning activities is discussed in terms of three components: selecting adaptations, monitoring the use of the adaptations during cooperative learning activities, and evaluating the adaptations’ effectiveness. The article concludes with comments regarding barriers to and support systems for technology integration, technology and effective instructional practices, and the need to consider technology adaptations for students who have learning disabilities.