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Educator Webinar: Assistive Technology for Reading Accommodations— From Low Tech to High–Tech

Categories: Assistive Technology, Webinars

Mike Marotta joined Learning Ally on 9/24/14 in a webinar focused on helping teachers understand the array of assistive technology solutions available to them to assist their students with a need for reading accommodations. These solutions range from the simple highlighter to browser extensions to simplify the reading of Web articles. During his introduction, moderator Paul Edelblut shared a brief update on Learning Ally’s solutions for schools, including access to an 80,000-title audiobook library for use at home or in schools and professional development for teachers. “Design for your students – think of them first when choosing what supports to use in the classroom,” Mike reminded us in the comprehensive webinar. Highlights of the discussion included:
  • Assistive technology at a glance
  • How to accomplish reading tasks with AT
  • SETT framework: Students, Environments, Tasks, Tools
  • Understanding your AT options with both low and high-tech applications
  • Best practices for ensuring success with AT in your classroom
View the webinar Download the presentation slides  Dozens of questions were sent in by audience members and some were addressed during the live session. Here are Mike’s answers to some of the questions we didn’t have time for: We are looking into using a "dictation station" for students with dyslexia and other print disabilities. Have you seen success with using computer and/or web-based dictation for short answer tests or writing assignments? Sounds like an interesting idea. I haven't seen a "station" idea since most accommodations are individually addressed. Windows speech recognition is part of the Window OS so the software is avaialble to all windows applications. You would need to have a microphone (and headset as needed) for individuals. Another consideration is the need for a quiet space for dictation: first for the student who is dictating into the computer and second, make sure that this dictation space does not adversly effect the other students in the classroom. The "low tech" options seem vast, is there a particular website that has a compilation of these which can be shared with teachers? To get you started on your journey, check out these Web resources: http://www.udltechtoolkit.wikispaces.com http://www.cooltoolsforschools.wikispaces.com http://atclassroom.blogspot.com/2014/02/low-tech-organization-strategies-and.html http://www.freewebs.com/sallydoxie/LOWTECHPDF/LowTechReading.pdf Is Learning Ally free for students with LD? Learning Ally offers a variety of options for paid memberships.  For many schools we work with the state departments of education to provide free memberships funded through the DOE.  Individuals needing a membership outside of the school channel can request a fee-waiver on our website. I work with adult students and some of them are very low level readers or are just learning to read. We use the Wilson Reading System. Are there any specific supports that you'd recommend that might complement Wilson or reading assistance for these adult learners? Maybe try using a text-to-speech program/software that highlights words/sentences which support the word auditorily as well as visually in an engaging topic. Use readibility and a text-to-speech tool (Kurzweil, ReadOutLoud, TextHelp). Also, investigate Fluency Tutor by Text Help. This tool will enable the individual to develop reading skills and has an array of features to support struggling readers. And, of course, Learning Ally has audiobooks enabled with VOICEtext that display the text of the book while you listen to the audio. What's the difference between core instructional materials and all instructional materials? Core instructional materials refers to core curriculum (textbooks, workbooks, essential materials). All instructional materials refers to ancillary materials, webpages, online resources, worksheets and anything beyond the "core" materials within instruction. How have you addressed test security with students who use AT for their reading disabilities? Use of AT on tests should be allowed as long as the student has it written in their IEP for use on the test and uses the AT in the classroom on a regular basis. I can't address what the student does with the test other then what they work out with the teacher/prof. The iPad use can be a distraction for students with attention difficulties. How can we balance use without making them feel "left out" if we limit their use? I understand the distraction effect of iPads/tablets, however, through positive behavior supports and very specific tasks with limited time with devices could establish better habits of the use of technologies. Do all public schools offer an assistive tech evaluation at no cost to the student family? Will this be performed by a professional? I've asked at our school and was told there is no one qualified to do one. Thank you! As part of an IEP the assistive technology team at your school should be consulted to provide input on what, if any, AT would support that student. Some smaller schools may use a contracted AT professional who is not available full-time and is not an employee.