Technology Assistance Tips for Students with Learning Disabilities

written by: Eagle Hill School
Today’s world offers more technological tools for students than ever before. In harnessing the power of these new tools, students with learning disabilities can capitalize on their unique strengths and abilities and reach their educational goals. This article will discuss helpful technology for your child or student and suggest ways to integrate these tools into your child’s educational approach.

Typing Tools

Alternative Keyboards: Alternative keyboards help students by using colorful indicators, grouping letters in a more intuitive manner, or increasing the size of the print on the keyboard. These keyboards are great for students with visual, ergonomic, or spatial requirements for learning. 

Speech Recognition Programs: These programs allow children to dictate their ideas to the computer, which then automatically transcribes the text. This type of technology allows your student to focus on their ideas and the content of their writing rather than being tripped up by grammar and spelling issues. Speech recognition technology often comes preloaded on your computer or smartphone.

Abbreviation Expanders: This type of technology is designed to be used with word processing programs. Abbreviation expanders allow students to input abbreviations for frequently used words or phrases. Using the abbreviations helps to avoid spelling errors and speed up the process of typing, which can often be difficult for students with learning disabilities.

Changing Formats

It may help students with learning disabilities to change the format of the information they are receiving to better suit their individual learning style. Below are some technological resources to help your student adapt the information to a format with which they are more comfortable. 

Audiobooks and Diction: It may be helpful to a student to receive auditory input as well as visual input. Listening to books on tape and using text-to-speech software on computers and smartphones can help a student to receive information in multiple formats simultaneously.

Variable Speed Tape Recorders: Sometimes a large influx of information can be overwhelming. It may be helpful to record what is being said and then play it back later. Variable speed tape recorders allow students to speed up or slow down the information to aid in understanding.

Talking Calculators: A talking calculator reads numbers, symbols, and operation keys aloud. These calculators offer nonvisual learners a different approach to math and can help your child feel confident that he or she has pressed the correct key. There are plenty of talking calculator apps on the market that can be used in lieu of a physical machine.

Organizational Tools

Outlining Software: These programs allow students with organizational challenges to input information in bulk and have it automatically organized into an interactive outline that students can change and play around with. Such programs often generate both traditional outlines and visual mind-mapping and brainstorming outlines to fit your child’s learning style. Examples of this software are Popplet, MindMash, and iBrainstorm.

Graphic Organizers: Graphic organizers allow the student to group their notes and assignments in an intuitive and visual way for easier organization. Some popular platforms are Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, and Quip.

While these tips certainly aren’t the only ones out there, they should begin to provide a solid idea of the many types of technologies available for students with learning disabilities today.

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Learning Diversity is a blog hosted by Eagle Hill School where educators, students, and other members of the LD community regularly contribute posts and critical essays about learning and living in spaces that privilege the inevitability of human diversity.

The contributors of Learning Diversity come together to engage our readers from a variety of disciplines, including the humanities, social sciences, biological sciences and mathematics, athletics, and residential life. Embracing learning diversity means understanding and respecting our students as whole persons.

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