It seems to be the case, however, that many of the wireless devices that schools have increasingly adopted as instructional aids can also benefit students with special needs.
Rebecca Hines, Ph.D., an associate professor who teaches special education and technology at the University of Central Florida, has found the iPod Touch to be a particularly powerful tool when it comes to helping special education students gain the same deep understanding of English-language arts and mathematical concepts as their general education peers.
“The iPod Touch includes the Dragon voice-to-text program for free, and it can be downloaded to multiple devices,” she says. “It’s great for kids with learning disabilities, where processing information may be a problem. It allows them to turn in writing of the same length and quality as students who don’t have these issues. They can literally dictate their responses and email them in text form directly to their teacher.”
Hines is also a fan of YouTube, owing to its closed-captioning feature and the ease with which educators can upload videos to the site. “Every teacher should have a YouTube channel for her students, and the school should make sure students can access it,” she says. “This way, teachers can record review material, lectures, and disseminate important information. This is especially important when it comes to Common Core material and special needs students. A lot of kids with learning disabilities often need to hear and/or view instructional materials multiple times. YouTube allows us to give that repeated access to the content until they master it.”
Along similar lines, there are many apps and programs available that give students the chance to practice key concepts or demonstrate their proficiency, which Hines says is also very important for learning-disabled students. Math Drills, for example, gives students a chance to practice basic math skills in the four operations until they master them. Quizlet, meanwhile, lets teachers and students custom design quizzes on a wide variety of topics. Google Apps for Education also offers tools that can help students practice material. A brief search in your Mac, iPod or iPad’s app store will bring up even more useful educational tools.
For more information on assistive technology and the CCSS, visit:
Assistive Technology Industry Association
International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
Learning Disabilities Association of America
TechACCESS of Rhode Island