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Differentiating Instruction through Assisted Technology

Introduction

“Schools must strive for equal opportunities, minimizing disabilities in a way that the

Special Education Needs (SEN) student can make the school and social pathway the least

restrictive possible” (Ribeiro, Moreira, 2010). Students with learning and physical disabilities

have the right to assistive technologies to help them in the classroom. Schools are required to

provide differentiated learning opportunities and parents need to be aware that these tools are

available for the children and have the right to require the school to provide them. This is a

look at three different technologies to assist students with learning and physical disabilities and

some of the pros and cons of using them.

Assisted Technology to Differentiate Instruction

With many schools going to a full inclusion classroom environment many student will

need assisted technologies to be able to fully participate in the learning experience. Here are

three different technologies that can be used in the classroom to assist with differentiated

learning.

Verbose Text-to-Speech

The first technology designed to help students with differentiated learning is a text-to-

speech program that takes text on your computer screen and converts it into an audio file for the

students to be able to listen to the text as they read along with it. This technology works well

with students who are strong audio learners that struggle with visual learning through reading.

Students with dyslexia also would benefit from this program in the classroom. It is important to

get students with reading disabilities started early with this technology in order to keep them

which will result in higher self-esteem, motivated in learning, and achieving academically

(Meyer, Bouck, 2014). This technology ties in to the ISTE Standards S for research and

information fluency giving students the opportunity to conduct meaningful research for class

projects (International Society for Technology in Education, 2015).

FM Listening System

Another technology that can be used in the classroom that will assist with differentiated learning

is the FM listen systems. Students who Have Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are

overstimulated in rooms with too much noise and find themselves struggling to focus on what

the teacher is saying. This technology lets the teacher wear a microphone as they are teaching

and the student can then hear this in a listening device they wear that also cancels out

background noise (Morin, 2015). The use of a FM listening device in the classroom can bring

out speech perception in noisy environments, improve interaction with other students and

teachers, and improve their overall educational outcome (Rance, Saunders, Carew, Johansson,

Tan, n.d.). This technology works within the ISTE Standards S for Communication and

Collaboration allowing student to interact with other students and teachers in the classroom

environment (International Society for Technology in Education, 2015).

TREWGrip Mobile Dock

This assistive technology helps a multitude of students. Students who have physical

disabilities like range of motion can use this keyboard/mouse combination from almost anywhere

to navigate computers and the internet (Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental

Access, 2015). With Bluetooth technology the student can sit comfortably and type and control

the cursor at the same time with just their two hands on the device. This type of technology can

help a student who may have needed the assistance of another individual to use technology like

computers to be more independent in the classroom environment (Simpson, McBride, Spencer,

2009). This technology is supported by the ISTE Standards S for research and information

fluency, and technology operations and concepts (International Society for Technology in

Education, 2015).

Pros and Cons of Assisted Technology

When it comes to assisted technology in the differentiated classroom environment the

benefits of using the technology often outweigh the downfalls. With schools incorporating full

inclusion classrooms student with special learning needs should be provided the technology

that will help them to succeed. These technologies give these students the means and abilities

to participate in the classroom environment with little to no assistance from another individual.

They can communicate better with the others around them and increase comprehension while

listening to the readings required to be successful in whatever subject they are taking.

Although these technologies are great for the students there are some disadvantages to

acquiring them and deciding who needs them. With budget cuts in recent years in many states

and school districts it is harder for teachers and administrator to acquire these tools for

students to use. Schools also have the task of deciding who needs these tools and to what

degree are they needed. Not every tool is the perfect fit and it may take several attempts to

find the right fit for the particular students and their needs. Even with these downsides,

schools are required to meet the needs of students who have disabilities and provide any

technologies that may help the student succeed in the classroom.

Conclusion

With proper technologies students can participate in the learn experience in the

classroom. Whether your students have differences in their learning styles or they have a need to

be met because of a learning or physical disability there are programs and tools available for

them to be successful. Being aware of what is available for your student and what things may

help them in their learning, parents and teachers need to make sure they are provided. Without

these tools these students would not be able to participate to their fullest potential and find

themselves lost and distracted by anything but their work.

References:

Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (2015). TREWGrip Mobile Dock

Retrieved on August 16, 2015 from:

http://assistivetech.net/search/productDisplay.php?product_id=55032

International Society for Technology in Education (2015). ISTE Standards for Students.

Retrieved on August 17, 2015 from: http://www.iste.org/standards/iste-

standards/standards-for-students

Meyer, N. K., & Bouck, E. C. (2014). The Impact of Text-to-Speech on Expository Reading for

Adolescents with LD. Journal Of Special Education Technology, 29(1), 21-33. Retrieved

on August 16, 2015 from:

http://library.gcu.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true

&db=ehh&AN=94363697&site=eds-live&scope=site

Morin, A. (2015). 8 Examples of Assistive Technology and Adaptive Tools. Understood.

Retrieved on August 16, 2015 from: https://www.understood.org/en/school-

learning/assistive-technology/assistive-technologies-basics/8-examples-of-assistive-

technology-and-adaptive-tools#slide-5

Rance, G., Saunders, K., Carew, P., Johansson, M., & Tan, J. (n.d). The Use of Listening

Devices to Ameliorate Auditory Deficit in Children with Autism. Journal Of Pediatrics,

164(2), 352-357. Retrieved on August 16, 2015 from:

http://library.gcu.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true

&db=edswss&AN=000330122900027&site=eds-live&scope=site

Ribeiro, J., & Moreira, A. (2010). ICT Training for Special Education Frontline Professionals.

International Journal Of Emerging Technologies In Learning, 55-59.

doi:10.3991/ijet.v5s2.1218 Retrieved on August 16, 2015 from:

http://library.gcu.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true

&db=ehh&AN=48946974&site=eds-live&scope=site

Simpson, C. G., McBride, R., Spencer, V. G., Lowdermilk, J., & Lynch, S. (2009). Assistive

Technology: Supporting Learners in Inclusive Classrooms. Kappa Delta Pi Record,

45(4), 172-175. Retrieved on August 16, 2015 from:

http://library.gcu.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true

&db=eric&AN=EJ865397&site=eds-live&scope=site