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Special Tools for Special Needs: New Technologies Help LD Kids

A wide variety of assistive technologies are available for use both in the classroom and at home, including electronic and graphic organizers to help kids structure and communicate their ideas, talking electronic systems to pronounce challenging words for students with a reading disability, and portable keyboards for students who have difficulty writing by hand. Other useful AT tools include:

  • Talking calculators, or calculators with large keys and displays for children with poor eyesight
  • Text-to-voice or voice-to-text software for children with communication problems
  • Word prediction, abbreviation, or expansion options to reduce keystrokes
  • Software that allows communication using pictures and symbols instead of words
  • Audio-voice amplification devices for students who are hard of hearing
  • Software for organizing ideas and studying
  • Word prediction software that assists in spelling and sentence construction
  • Time management and routine checklist devices for children with autism and ADHD
  • The Family Center on Technology and Disability offers suggestions to help parents find comprehensive AT resources.

    It's important to keep in mind your child's specific needs when considering an AT product. The right service should make use of his abilities to help compensate for his disability. For example, if your child is articulate in speaking, but has poor grammar and spelling, a speech-recognition software program that converts spoken words to text will make use of his speaking skills and help him put his thoughts in writing. The National Center for Learning Disabilities offers four components to consider when deciding on AT:

  • The individual who needs the technology, along with his specific strengths, limitations, and interests
  • The tasks or functions the AT is expected to perform
  • Where the AT will be used (school, home, etc.)
  • Ease of operation, reliability, portability, and cost of the AT device
  • An AT assessment may be conducted by your child's school or an independent agency, to help you determine which tools might work best for him.



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