With back-to-school season in full swing, it’s time to get out those pencils, zip up those backpacks and get ready to learn. But for students with disabilities, heading back to school can be very tough, and you may need assistive technology to help you succeed fully. Luckily, there are a wealth of options out there to choose from, and different devices are being created every day to help students with disabilities reach their goals. Teachers are beginning to install cutting-edge accommodations in their classrooms so students with disabilities can be better prepared for the future. Here are just a few options available for students of all ages, from elementary school to college:
The best in student tech: From K-12 to college
According to medical news today, “those with more obvious disabilities are more likely to be bullied than their general-education counterparts and are also more likely to bully other students.” Even when schools try to encourage more inclusion of students with disabilities, it can be an incredibly difficult environment for them. But assistive technology is proving to have a positive impact on the lives of these students, and it’s easy to see why.
- Frequency Modulation (FM) Systems: For children with a sensorineural hearing loss, these devices can help tremendously. FM systems work using a transmitter microphone and a receiver to give students a constant level of sound. By using this device, students with hearing loss can hear their teacher much better and don’t have to deal with background noise or distracting sounds. FM systems help provide more focus and better sound quality to hearing-impaired students everywhere.
- Sip-and-Puff Systems: For those with mobility issues, these devices are incredibly helpful in assisting with typing and improving their fine motor skills. Students are able to control these systems using their mouth, and they can use them to navigate a computer or mobile device. Using a sip or a puff, students have the ability to move the controller and click on tools. These devices are innovative in improving the lives of those with mobility impairments.
- Screen Readers: Visually impaired and blind students can use these tools to read learning materials and have an easier time understanding their homework assignments. These devices allow students to have their text read aloud to them, without the need to strain their eyes. For those who read braille, there are now braille readers available for students with vision disabilities to use. There are also talking dictionaries and calculators to assist visually disabled individuals of all ages.
- Adaptive Seating: Students in wheelchairs may have to arrange for special seating in the classroom. There are several options for them, including seat inserts for wheelchairs, side liers and prone standers. These tools can help students in wheelchairs position themselves better and focus more on their learning at school.
Thanks to developers, there are now so many different systems designed to help children with special needs. Over the past few years, companies have created groundbreaking devices to help students with disabilities accomplish their dreams and have a successful future. By utilizing the technology listed above, disabled students can achieve whatever they set out to do and be more productive than ever before.
Yet, even with such advancements in assistive technology, students with disabilities are still at a disadvantage. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, disabled graduates are 40 percent less likely to find employment after graduation than those without a disability. Given this surprising statistic, it’s extremely important for those with disabilities to prepare themselves and have a plan in mind after graduation. From getting involved in extracurricular activities to updating their resume regularly, there are many ways college students with disabilities can become ready for their job search after they graduate.
Using assistive technology during grade school and college will better prepare you for the future ahead and put you on the path toward your dream career. By utilizing devices such as screen readers and FM systems, disabled students can work at a brisk pace and keep up with others around them. Better yet, it can open their eyes to new ways in making life easier for themselves. Teachers can make a difference by advocating for the use of technology in classrooms and assisting those with disabilities in how to use it. Education is a vital part of everyone’s lives, and for disabled students, assistive technology helps their learning process go smoother and makes their experience at school more enjoyable.
Frankie Wallace is a freelance journalist from Boise, Idaho and contributes to a variety of blogs across the web.