According to UNICEF, every 10th child in our society has some impairment. Reason, being bullied by other children, inequality, discrimination, poverty and parents being shame infront of the society leads many of them uneducated all their life. Though some get chance to learn in the initial stage their chances to receive a proper education to earn their living were rather low.
While technology is being adapted in many forms of life and education too, development of assistive technology has bring a new opportunity for healthy as well as for the kids with mobility, sensory, and mental impairments. This technology innovation has not just given these kids a chance to adapt to modern life but they can also obtain new abilities using modern technological devices and overcome any obstacles that could be on their way to a happy life.
Though, 10% of them do not attend school in low-income countries and between 5 and 15% of the kids can afford to obtain assistive technology themselves, still other need help from world organizations.
Assistive Educational Technology
Assistive educational technology has a rather broad definition as it encompasses various devices, equipment, and systems that are used to help students bypass, maintain, compensate, overcome, or enhance any learning deficits and capabilities of disabled students. It can’t substitute any physical, mental, or sensory problems, but at the same time it was created with the purpose to acquire new knowledge and skills by capitalizing on the child’s strengths and overcoming difficulty areas. That results in improving deficit of some skills and opens new horizons for young people. Moreover, that beneficially influences the child’s behavior, development, and character making him or her more self-reliant and independent.
Assistive edTech devices are divided into “high-tech” and “low-tech” ones. The latter ones are usually manually operated, while eLearning can be performed with the help of incredibly productive high-tech devices like computers, software, and other electronic equipment.
Problems being Addressed
Kids with disabilities are categories under 5 ways- physical, sensory, cognitive, psychiatric, health-related, etc. And according to these categories these are widely spread challenges that these children faces in acquiring a better education.
Children with deafness or hard-to-hear conditions as well as ones that have problems with spoken language may need AT.
Disabled kids find it much more difficult to learn reading than ordinary children. The others are even unable to see what is typed on the paper. Modern AT can solve these and many other reading problems.
Depending on the disability type young people can require assistance with writing. Some AT was designed to circumvent the writing process while there are also apps and software that help to enhance spelling, pronunciation, punctuation and other.
Some kids have difficulty in computing, aligning, organizing and solving math tasks on the paper. Different AT can help them to cope with mathematics without a necessity to write everything down.
- Memory issues
Unfortunately, many kids follow behind their classmates because of insufficient memory. But modern AT can be useful for organizing and planning their schedule better. Moreover, they help to store, manage and retrieve vital information when it is necessary to memorize it better.
Benefits and Barriers
Choosing an AT for a child with certain impairments it is important to evaluate its benefits as well as determine the possible barriers and help a child to overcome them. Most of the assistive devices have the following benefits:
- Children feel more self-confident.
- It is easier and faster for a kid to realize his or her potential.
- AT gives a sense of independence.
- It makes children with disabilities be and feel equal to healthy classmates.
- It helps in daily living.
- Technology is a good encouragement for young learners.
Unfortunately, when children start using one or another AT they can experience a number of barriers such as:
- Additional discrimination from the side of their schoolmates.
- Negative attitude to the devices.
- Inaccessible destinations even being equipped with AT.
- The indifference of the society etc.
These barriers, which may seem not important, bring about more much severe life conditions. Girls get not only discriminated, but also abused. Children lose interest in any education, become obsessed with their impairments, and have to live in poverty until their death. Naturally, AT is very important for disabled youth, but its implementation should result only in benefits. That means that any barriers that might arouse should be eliminated before AT implementation.
Role In Inclusive Classrooms
The role of AT in education should not be underestimated. Fortunately, the technological breakthrough has greatly changed lives of disabled students for better and the variety of interesting and useful devices is incredibly big. Some of them seem magical as their functionality is rather wide. Apart from the customary voice recorders, headphones, screen readers, wheelchairs, there are numerous interesting innovations among them. The most impressive ones are the following:
Text-to-voice devices, software, and talking calculators.
Electronic worksheets, portable word processors, eBooks, audio books.
Alternative keyboard and mouse.
Free-form databases, graphic organizers, outlining software, personal data managers.
Different low-tech solutions like highlighters, communication boards, note cards, etc.