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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Using Assistive Technology on the College Campus

For college students with diagnosed learning disabilities, the use of assistive technology both in and out of the classroom can have a profound effect on their opportunities for success.  While not all college disabilities services programs will have all of newest software and programs for students, it is important that students are aware of the options that exist.  Whether the student's area of difficulty is reading, writing, or organization and executive functioning, there are a number of options worth exploring.
            Different assistive technologies can assist students at any level of their education by helping with the following:

  • Allowing for more accurate work to be turned in.
  • Increasing the speed with which students are able to complete work.
  • Providing for increased independence.
  • Serving as a means to help students review materials from class and study sessions.
            Some apps that may prove useful for students who have difficulty keeping their work organized include Dropbox (www.dropbox.com/mobile) and Corkulous (www.corkulous.com). Dropbox allows students to organize and access their files, while Corkulous gives users the chance set goals and organize their ideas.
            For students who are challenged by note-taking in their classes, the Livescribe Smartpen is an option that may help.  Used with special paper for note taking, the Livescribe Smartpen allows students to coordinate their written notes with the words spoken by their professor (www.livescribe.com) so that at a later date they can listen to any part of the class lecture for review or to fill in missed information into their notes.  In addition, handwritten words can automatically appear on a Ipad or Iphone and easily be converted into typed text.
            Finally, a variety of speech-to-text software options are available for students looking for help with producing their written work.  Programs such as Siri or Dragon NaturallySpeaking (http://www.nuance.com/dragon/index.htm) have become so popular with the non-LD population that the stigma that may have existed once for LD students who used such programs has all but vanished.
            The assistive technology options continually develop, and I have only touched on a few of the outstanding resources that are available to the public.  So, for students who understand their challenges and take the time to research their options, they will find a world of assistance at their fingertips.
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