Assistive Technology in Schools
It’s almost back to school time! That means new backpacks and school supplies. For some students, it also means making sure that you have everything you need to be successful at school. Assistive technology (AT) allows students to participate in the school environment more independently. Just like a ramp allows wheelchair users to enter a building, AT at school ensures all students are a part of the learning process.
What kinds of assistive technology might benefit you or your child?
For students with fine motor or visual-motor difficulties:
- Pencil grips
- There are so many kinds of pencil grips! These tools help students who have trouble holding their pencils or have pain when they write. Talking to an occupational therapist can help you choose the right pencil grip depending on your needs.
- Adaptive scissors
- Traditional scissors might be hard to use if you have hand pain or weakness. Spring-loaded scissors automatically re-open for the next cut and don’t need as much strength or coordination. Tabletop scissors and loop scissors use this mechanism as well. Check out other scissor options here
- Adapted paper
- Students with difficulty writing might like paper that has bold or raised lines to help guide them. A company called Abilitations makes some great options! Check out adapted paper options here
For students with sensory differences:
- Some students may experience under or over-sensitivity to certain kinds of sensory input. For example, some people might be uncomfortable and cover their ears around loud sounds while others may seek out and enjoy loud sounds. Similarly, some students may enjoy different kinds of positioning and movement. Wiggle cushions wobble chairs, and ball chairs let students move while they learn. For students that need extra proprioceptive input or have decreased core strength, cube chairs, HowdaHUG seats, and Rifton chairs may provide extra stability.
- Noise reduction headphones
- For students that don't like loud sounds or have trouble focusing, noise-reducing headphones may allow them to take part more in the school environment. This tool is especially helpful in noisy environments like the cafeteria or a fire drill. Some options for headphones are in this article
- Borrow Noise-reducing headphones from our lending library here
- Tactile Fidgets
- When selected carefully and used intentionally, tactile fidgets can be helpful self-regulation tools. Thinking putty, stress balls, and bubble poppers are examples of hand-held fidgets that can be used quietly in the classroom. You can also try tactile fidgets that attach to a desk, such as Velcro or Calm Strips.
For students with learning disabilities (including but not limited to dyslexia, dysgraphia, etc.)
- Livescribe Echo Pen
- This special pen uses a camera to capture everything you write and a microphone to record the audio around you. You can upload your notes to your computer and review them and listen to the audio recording later.
- Borrow the Livescribe Echo Pen from our lending library here:
- C-Pen Reader:
- This tool is great for students who have difficulty reading. The C-Pen Reader uses an optical character recognition (OCR) camera to scan text and play it back.
- Borrow C-Pen Reader from our lending library here:
- Apps and Online Tools
- There are many great apps that can help students with dyslexia and other learning differences succeed in class. Grammarly is an app that checks spelling and grammar and enhances writing. The Read and Write Chrome Extension has a variety of tools to support learners. Text-to-speech apps like Dragon Naturally Speaking and Voice Notes allow students to turn their voice into text. For students who have difficulty completing worksheets with a pencil, they can use the SnapType app instead.