SAY YES TO ALS!
Universities and schools are putting the letter ‘E’ in ’Learning’ by implementing new top-of-the-line tech as part of thier initiative to break down barriers for students with learning difficulties. This is because fewer student with disabilities are pursuing undergraduate or graduate courses at university in comparison to their peers. WHY? Because there has been limited support provided by schools and higher education institutes which may have been a result of staff cuts over the recent years. Therefore, there are less and less ALS students without mentors to assist them with their studies, according to Harriet Swain – The Guardian (2019).
BUT DON’T FRET! Because that’s all about to change, for these diamond-in-the-rough students have the help of new advancements in technology to keep them shining as bright as their peers. Universities today have introduced Computer assistive software’s that are designed to provide the following types of learning support for students with such difficulties:
- Providing immediate and dynamic feedback
- Assisting with spelling, reading, writing and multiplication drills
(Stetter & Hughes, 2010), (Wanzek et al., 2006).
Furthermore, these Assistive software’s can be installed onto either computers, laptops, Ipads or tablet devices. However, universities are required to train students on how to use the software in order to avoid the technology from becoming a distraction (LD@School 2019).
According to The Dyslexia Association, Assistive technologies can also break down barriers for students with Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Dysgraphia. With software’s ranging from voice recognition, text-to-speech, smart pens etc., these assistive technologies can provide students with support in understanding written, verbal or visual materials as well as being able to learn independently (2019). As a result, assistive software’s encourage students with learning difficulties to have self-confidence at home, in lectures or classes and even in the career aspect (Ryan 2019).
Text-to-Speech? Sound Pretty Neat!
Text-to-speech software’s are ever so helpful for students with learning difficulties as they allow them to understand any educational materials presented through proof-reading and assignment checks (The Dyslexia Association 2019). One example of text-to speech software’s is ‘NaturalReader’ – Popular for its ability to convert PDFs, webpages, e-books as well as printed material into spoken words. GOB-SMACKED are we ??
Not only is this nifty desktop application available for Windows PC and Mac, it can literally convert and save a plethora of text-filled documents into audio files. Users can even adjust the speech and voice settings of these audio files, depending on their personal preference – just like how you can adjust the voice settings for Siri on your iPhone. Additionally, once users save an audio file, it can then be transferred onto other devices, be it their smartphone or tablet, so they can have these helpful audio files in hand when needed (DyslexiaHelp 2019). Overall, NaturalReader is easy to use and is accessible to everyone as it can even be used online ?!!! – Why not head over to NaturalReaders.com and give the online version ago!
Watch this short video for more on NaturalReader:
Did Someone Say Speech Recognition?
HELL YEAHH! Voice recognition technologies have boomed in the last few years since the launch of audio assistants, Amazon Alexia, Cortana and Google Assistant – OOOOH LA LA…
…Such technologies allow PCs, tablets and mobile devices to accurately recognise speech and prompt a response, using personalised voice settings. The clever little speech-clogs have really become well-integrated within everyday life for the many of us (Allen and turner 2019). More so, voice recognition software’s have also shown promising results as they are explored within UK education sectors.
Thanks to years of dedicated studies and research on voice recognition, these Gob-smacking applications have really come in and swooped schools and universities off their feet by providing assistive aid for ALS students. This is by allowing students to capture their ideas at the speed of thought which is perfect for students with Dyslexia and ADHD as it’s time efficient and students are less likely to struggle with reading text or losing their trail of thought (Robbie 2017). Whether they get stuck on a specific word or distracted by the penny they found on the floor, voice recognition applications convert the user’s speech into text before prompting a response in both speech and text. Therefore, users can follow up on discussions with their assistive sidekicks.
One example of assistive voice recognitions software’s is Amazon Echo. This application is great for students with Dyslexia or have other learning barriers which can make reading and writing difficult when surfing the web. The Echo is a voice activated tower, using cloud computing to prompt up-to-date information instantly in response to users through text and speech at the same times. This means less time is wasted in typing up queries though an online search engine and having to spend hours looking up results. All the information in the world can be found within this little Einstein (Learning Abled Kids 2019).
Handy and Assistive On-the-go Apps
Assistive technologies aren’t just a desktop thing, they are also available on your smartphone too. There is a wide variety of innovative mobile apps for students with learning difficulties. For instance, ‘Brain in Hand’ is one application that is specifically designed for students with autism, mental health conditions, brain injuries or any other specific learning difficulties (Swain 2019). The application offers students personalised support at their fingertips through reminders, notes, coping strategies and even has access to a team of professional to provide further support if needed (BrainInHand.co.uk 2019). Now, that’s something better than Siri put together – sorry Apple! ?
Watch this short video for more about Brain In Hand:
And now… THE GRAND FANALE ?!!! In conclusion, assistive technologies have shown promising results in breaking learning barriers for additional learning support students. From text-to-speech software’s that help capture and read notes aloud to students or voice recognition applications which prompt an informative response to spoken instructions, Assistive technologies are ever-growing and heavily integrated within e-learning and even everyday life as we know it. Who knows what else it could bring to the table? Regardless of what it will have to offer in future, assistive technologies are reshaping the way we work and think today.