Assistive technology (AT) is defined by: Kristin Stanberry, Marshall H. Raskind in their article, ‘Assistive Technology for Kids with Learning Disabilities (LD): An Overview’, as a device, piece of equipment or system that helps bypass, work around or compensate for an individual’s specific learning deficits. Dyslexia is one LD where AT can enhance students access to print or help them express themselves using print.
As I come to work with more and more students who have dyslexia, I wondered what AT was out there to support their learning at school and at home. I found through my searching, there are multiple articles that provide links upon links to AT to help dyslexic students. My big question though was, what was the most effective. However, like all learning, the effectiveness of AT depends solely on it being tailored to the student’s needs, the context in which it is needed and the purpose for which it is used. The ability for it to highlight the student’s strengths and compensate for their difficulties would also be a bonus.
AT could be as simple as downloading and using dyslexie font, or buying an overlays app, to using AudioBooks to ensure the student has access to academic content at their level, therefore eliminating their weakness in reading. Google chrome apps and extensions, web-based tools, desktop software, IOS and Android Apps, there is so much choice, what to choose becomes the question. Therefore Consumer Tips for Evaluating AT products, highlights some questions for parents to consider prior to purchasing an AT product, however I think these are also valid questions for educators to also consider before purchasing products for their students or recommending them to parents.
Jamie Martin, is an Assistive Technology Consultant for Students and Adults with Dyslexia. His website called ‘Assistive Technology Solutions for Students with Dyslexia” I found useful because he identified 5 main areas where AT can help the dyslexic student.
New AT becomes available all the time, some at a cost, some for free. Even if newer AT products become available, it doesn’t mean that the older ones are no good, as highlighted by some of the examples above. So where does this leave me in choosing what AT will benefit my students? Starting with one app or piece of software and seeing the results, then moving onto the next. Slowly I am building up a bank of options for my students to choose from and try.