Tablets for Assistive Technology

www.proloquo2go.comphoto © 2009 kev_hickey_uk | more info (via: Wylio)
In past posts I have addressed how tablets (xoom, iPad…) might change education, or not… depending on the educational objective.  Now let’s talk about how these new devices can help special education students. In the past there were two lines of technology development, one being the ‘regular’ technology development and one for assistive technology development. Typical assistive technology five years ago (and admittedly still being purchased in many schools today) might be DynaVox, GoTalk+20 or other special device (see list of augmented communication devices here and here). For notetaking a student might have an alphasmart or fusion assigned to them. What I think is happening is that some of these device developments are merging with the ‘regular’ technology development. For instance, with notetaking I think it is a better idea to give a student a netbook, which would give them more functionality, is cheaper than most other devices, and still gives them the portability.  (Depending on the student’s other needs maybe also giving them a tablet with a bluetooth keyboard would work, although for only a note-taking device my thought is a netbook would work better for most students.)

The other big area in assistive technology is augmented communication devices. More and more I am seeing a shift from the traditional devices to giving a student a tablet, such as an iPad. Some of the augmented communication apps available are Proloquo2go, OneVoice, Talking Tom and Voice4U, just to name a few. The best part about using a tablet  is that tablets not only can be their communication device, but can also include other apps that address other educational goals and objectives for the special education student.

Tablets are perfect for that one-to-one device for each special education student because it can be customized to fit their specific needs. In essence it will grow with the student, apps being uploaded as students’ needs change.

Here are some great resources for special education apps and other information:

Apps for Children with special needs

Education Matters: Schools using iPads to help autistic students

iPad apps for children with special needs

10 Revolutionary iPad apps to help autistic children

Apps, apps, so many apps (great resource by purpose)

Of course, with that said, there will still be a need for specialized communication and other devices that meet  individual student needs. These devices are still being developed and get better all the time. Once again, the important place to start is the individual student’s need. If there is indeed an app for that, and the student is able to use the tablet efficiently and effectively then why not choose a device that grows with the student and can allow them to be successful in their goals?

2 thoughts on “Tablets for Assistive Technology

  1. Dear Friends:

    My wife cannot speak. We have looked a many augmented communication devices. All have limitations and are quite expensive.

    We seek an iPad app that can recognize handwriting ( typing is too slow when participating in a meeting), convert to text, and then speak the text.

    Some fine handwriting apps are already available for iPad, some of which can convert these to text. Also, there are apps that can read text aloud. But, as you can see, this requires cutting and pasting the text from the first app ainto the second app (if this is allowed by the app) before speech can occur. The needed solution is to put both of these functions into a single app.

    In short, text to speech beginning with handwriting, and ending with audible speech. Such a capability will be of help to millions suffering from a very large number of muscular, neuromuscular, and neurological disorders, that prevent normal speech.

    Any suggestions will be most deeply appreciated.

    Thank you.

    Very truly yours,
    Robert E Miller

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