1. How to Choose an Assistive Technology? The approaches used to address the difficulties faced by students with learning disabilities fall into two general categories - remedial and compensatory. Remedial approaches seek to alleviate a specific deficit or improve an area of weakness. Compensatory approaches try to work-around or bypass a deficit. If a child is having trouble learning to read, a remedial strategy might focus on phonics to improve reading skill. In contrast, a compensatory strategy might provide a book on audiotape or an Optical Character Recognition system so the child could hear the text spoken aloud. However, the two approaches are not mutually exclusive, and providing assistive technology doesn't mean that an individual cant also receive remedial instructions. Assistive technology is a compensatory approach. Compensatory approaches are important for those who may not have the time to invest in remediating a specific difficulty like a college student, for example, faced with several hundred pages of text to read in a short period of time. There are also some overlaps between these two categories, with compensatory technologies sometimes having remedial functions. There is evidence that students, who use speech recognition systems that convert spoken language to text on a computer screen, may also improve their reading comprehension and word recognition skills through use of the system. It is imperative to make sure that an assistive tool works towards an individual's strengths. For instance, if someone has problem writing, their spelling and grammar maybe poor, however, he or she may be an articulate speaker. Instead of simply providing them a standard word processing program, they might be better off with speech-recognition software, a program that converts the spoken word to text. In another example, if a child is having trouble reading but can easily understand spoken words, then an Optical Character Recognition system with computerized speech that can read a book out loud for them could provide a great deal of benefit. There are four components to be considered in finding the most appropriate assistive technology for someone with a learning disability. These are: 1. The individual who needs the technology and their specific strengths, limitations, skill sets, knowledge and interests; 2. The specific tasks or functions the assistive technology is expected to perform (such as compensation for a reading, writing or memory problem); 3. The setting where the assistive technology will be used (school, home); and
2. 4. The device considerations such as ease of operation, reliability, portability and cost. Keep in mind that assistive technologies are not a remedy for all deficiencies but are merely part of the approaches on how to deal with a learning disability issue. And if youre a parent trying to find something to help your child, it is important to include your child in the selection process making sure that the technology really addresses their needs, that they are comfortable with it, and that they know how to use it properly. Finally, an assistive technology should help the individual with a learning disability to function at a level that is commensurate with their intelligence. There are many tools for learning that are available; the challenge is to find one that works best for each specific individual's needs.For consultation on Practical Assistive Technology, visit www.PracticalATSolutions.com. Other article you will find interesting: How Can Assistive Technology Help Students with Disabilities? What Does the Law Say About Assistive Technology? What Is Assistive Technology?