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Ultimate Guide to Assistive Technology in Special Education

Ultimate Guide to Assistive Technology in Special Education

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Ultimate Guide to Assistive Technology in Special Education

5/5 (8 Bewertungen)
310 Seiten
6 Stunden
Apr 1, 2011


Families, teachers, and therapists who are searching for information about how to use technology to help individuals who struggle with communication, literacy, and learning will benefit from the wealth of practical, well-organized information in "The Ultimate Guide to Assistive Technology in Special Education." The book presents a broad overview of the uses of assistive technology before helping readers zero in on powerful, cutting-edge technology tools they can use to improve students' areas of weakness as well as to compensate for them. Readers are introduced to an exciting world in which assistive technology, educational technology, and mainstream technology are merging. The book focuses on software, tools, devices, and online resources that can help students with everyday tasks such as speaking, understanding, reading, writing, cognition, and memory. Along the way, readers will discover new ways to use everyday items such as mainstream software, cell phones, and calendars to assist students with special needs.
Apr 1, 2011

Über den Autor

Joan Green is a speech-language pathologist in the Washington, DC, area with many years of experience helping children and adults who have a wide range of communication, cognitive, literacy and learning challenges. She is passionate in her efforts to spread the word about how affordable cutting-edge technology can be used to empower children and adults who have difficulty with speaking, reading, writing, thinking, and learning at home, school, work, or in the community.

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Ultimate Guide to Assistive Technology in Special Education - Joan L. Green




I wrote this book for you—parents, teachers, therapists, and individuals with communication, cognitive, literacy, and learning challenges. I hope that you find it helpful. I have done my best to include as many assistive technology resources as possible, but I know that as soon as I finish my final edits, this book will already not include all that could be helpful for you. Every effort has been made to make this guide as complete and accurate as possible. Websites are provided for the reader to refer to for up-to-date information.

Please use the resources in this guide as a starting point from which to learn more. I write a free online newsletter that I send to subscribers a couple of times a month. In it I highlight new products or technology ideas that you may find helpful. I also periodically offer webinars and seminars. If you’d like to receive the newsletter, please subscribe at either or or e-mail me at, and I will add you to the list. I also post quite a bit of this new information on my Facebook page: Innovative Technology Treatment Solutions. It would be great if you could join that page.

As you read this book, please keep in mind that the information provided is not to be viewed as professional consultation or services. This guide was designed to provide information about helpful assistive technology tools that may potentially help individuals who have communication, cognitive, literacy, and learning challenges. It is not the purpose of this guide to provide training for professionals or prescribe evaluation or treatment protocols for clients. Anyone who decides to integrate technology into education and rehabilitation must expect to invest time and effort into exploring and trying the resources to learn which are best. Professional guidance is suggested.






As the affordability and availability of fantastic new multimedia tools that promote independence and personal, academic, and vocational success increase, so does the potential for greater success for people who have communication and cognitive challenges. Education and rehabilitation professionals, as well as families, need to develop new models of intervention and learn to adapt these cutting-edge technologies to empower individuals with literacy, learning, and communication differences. Unfortunately, many of the people who could benefit the most from these recent advances remain in paper-based worlds—receiving services that do not take advantage of effective new technology tools. People with disabilities are often never exposed to the many products that can help them succeed in life. As our society becomes increasingly dependent on technologies for communication and information access, people with disabilities are experiencing an ever-increasing digital divide. Everyone deserves to be exposed to affordable, easy-to-use resources with which they can accomplish everyday tasks more easily and effectively. The world of technology has become much more affordable—many state-of-the-art resources are now readily available and, when used properly, can have a huge positive impact on the lives of individuals with autism, learning differences, aphasia, cognitive deficits, and developmental as well as degenerative disabilities.


Assistive technology devices, also referred to as adaptive technology, according to the United States Assistive Technology Act of 1998 (see, refer to any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities (Sec. 3.5). Assistive technologies can remove barriers to independence and success especially when used in the individual’s natural setting such as his home, school, or workplace. These tools can reduce the burden of difficult skills and enhance independence during daily life at school, work, home, and in the community.



The worlds of assistive technology, educational technology, and mainstream technology are merging. This change is happening so fast that it is difficult to stay on top of the many new ways technology can be used to help people of all ages who have subtle or debilitating challenges. This guide will introduce you to an exciting world of assistive technology—one that includes many products and approaches that you may not know exist as well as many you may be very familiar with, but have not thought to use to help improve speaking, reading, writing, listening, thinking, memory, or learning skills.


Whether you are a parent of a child with communication, learning, or attention challenges, or a professional or caregiver of an adult who has had a stroke or head injury or suffers from a degenerative neurological disease, the keys to success in using this guide are the same:

 Start gradually.

 Focus on the sections within chapters that will meet your immediate needs first.

 Start to network with others in similar situations by joining online support and discussion groups.

 Explore the websites of products that seem most interesting to make sure that you learn about the most recent specifications, features, and price of the products.

 Take advantage of free trials before purchasing items and search online for reviews.

 Try out the many free resources described that may help.

 Be creative and try new things. There is no one correct way to proceed.


This book does not replace the need for skilled professional intervention. Although assistive technologies are helpful in the education and therapy process, they do not replace specialized help from trained educators and therapists. Users of the technology need to remain focused on their goals and work to achieve the desired outcomes. Once a good match with the user and product is made, the selected resource should be configured or used in the best way to maximize progress toward goals. Some activities may be enjoyable, but aren’t effective toward learning new skills. People learn in different ways and are helped by different strategies and types of assistance. Communication and cognitive professionals such as speech-language pathologists are trained to help people with communication and cognitive deficits, and computers are only a tool to further that help. One product can be used in many ways. Figuring out the most effective way to use the technology is critical for success.



Once you select software, adaptive hardware, or websites that will be potentially helpful for you in your setting, spend some time exploring the websites that are given for the products discussed. Many businesses offer free demo CDs, a trial period for online subscriptions, or online tutorials. If you go to a search engine such as Bing or Google and type in the name of the product and the word reviews, you can often see what others have said about the product. Other helpful features offered by some companies are the ability to join an electronic mailing list, participate in chat sessions, receive free e-newsletters, or access a bulletin board that will connect you to other users of the product.








Technology has slowly crept into our lives. Assistive technology (AT) has become an integral part of this evolution and is gaining increased acceptance in the delivery of services in school and rehabilitation centers. Some professionals have welcomed this development of new resources to help others with open arms; some have avoided, resisted, or ignored these helpful tools; and others are unaware that new and exciting treatment opportunities exist.

Schools, healthcare systems, and vocational settings are struggling to balance the delivery of quality services with increasing costs. With the use of the assistive technologies highlighted in this guide, we become empowered to revolutionize the ability to contain costs and effectively help people of all ages with a wide range of communication, learning, and cognitive challenges. The key is to make a good match between the individual and the technology being used.

As technology continues to become more powerful, less expensive, and more portable, it becomes increasingly helpful in improving speech, language, new learning, reasoning, and memory. By creating opportunities as well as removing performance barriers, technology can help us explore new frontiers.


The use of computers in education and therapy first appeared in the late 1970s with the advent of microcomputers. Word processors gradually replaced typewriters. In the 1980s, computer use in education and therapy progressed to the use of drill-and-practice exercises with instant feedback to facilitate the learning process. The 1990s ushered in easier access to the Internet and more sophisticated software programs with voice output, the ability to customize options in programs for users, and more interesting and interactive software. Treatment started to incorporate the use of e-mail and websites for reading practice, research, and promotion of self-advocacy. Technology has continued to become more sophisticated and affordable. More and more people have high-speed Internet access and computers at home. Many students also have cell phones with texting and Internet access, iPods, iPads, and social networking accounts and are extremely computer savvy.

We are now in the midst of another technology transformation and need to change our mindset. The world of Web 2.0 has been around for a while with its emphasis on information sharing and collaboration. Some say Web 3.0 is just about here—with browsers that act like personal assistants. There is a growing emphasis on using products that are helpful to everyone, not just those with disabilities. There is a push toward a universal design for learning (UDL), created by the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST; UDL provides a blueprint for creating flexible goals, methods, materials, and assessments that accommodate learner differences (Kurzweil Education Systems, n.d., p. 1). In the world of assistive technology, there is also now more of an emphasis on helping instructors and employers learn to modify instruction and the workplace to find alternative ways to help students and employees demonstrate what they know.




Communication and cognitive deficits create obstacles to computer use. As technology becomes even more important to mainstream society, people who do not have ready access to a computer or the Internet will be at an increasing disadvantage until the Internet and devices become more accessible to users with disabilities.

It may be difficult for individuals with communication and cognitive challenges to:

 provide computer input with movement of a mouse or typing on the keyboard,

 read and interpret information on the screen,

 sequence and analyze procedures needed to use software applications,

 use e-mail to obtain information and interact socially, and/or

 search online for information.



Appropriately selected assistive technologies can:

 save time;


 make tasks easier and often more fun;

 have real-life value;

 support unique learning styles, abilities, and backgrounds;

 provide feature flexibility and customizability at a level previously impossible;

 facilitate positive outcomes by carefully controlling tasks;

 give independent, nonjudgmental, immediate feedback;

 promote effective independent practice;

 streamline data and information collection;

 provide opportunities to objectively document change over time;

 increase opportunities for socialization and reduce isolation;

 provide more effective studying and learning strategies; and

 empower users to collaborate online.




Many new, powerful devices, software programs, and applications have been developed to help people confronted with a wide variety of challenges. People who are appropriate candidates for learning support from computers may have experienced or still have the following:

 a developmental delay or disorder;

 attention issues;


 a learning disability;

 social, emotional, and behavioral challenges;

 developmental apraxia of speech;

 cognitive impairment;

 poor performance in school;

 work-related challenges;

 unintelligible speech (dysarthria);

 dysfluent speech (stuttering);

 difficulty learning English as a second language;

 a voice disorder;

 hearing impairment;

 low vision;

 a brain injury such as a stroke, a closed-head injury, a tumor, or an aneurysm;

 a progressive degenerative disease such as Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or multiple sclerosis (MS); or

 cognitive decline.




Often the family members of people with disabilities take the initiative to learn more about educational methods and treatment options. They expect teachers and therapists to use state-of-the-art tools and methods. These family members confront the devastating impact every day that the disability imposes on many aspects of daily living and are very motivated to seek alternative solutions to maximize progress and quality of life.

This guide streamlines the learning process and makes it less daunting for professionals to offer assistive technology as a tool in their sessions. Educators and clinicians who understand what these new tools can do in solution-focused therapy to supplement other techniques can achieve excellent results. Incorporating affordable technology into rehabilitation and education is well worth the effort, time, motivation, and dedication it requires. This guide highlights software, hardware, and other resources that are versatile and therapeutically and educationally beneficial.


The items mentioned in this guide are not an exhaustive list of instructional tools and strategies, but rather a representative sampling of products available on the market and some suggestions about how to use them. The information presented is current at the time this book was written. However, it is inevitable that more products will become available and items described will change. New and improved features of software and apps are made available on a daily basis. Use the information included in this book as a guide for learning more and to perhaps point you in a direction to pave the way for you to take the initiative to learn how assistive technology can help you in your situation.





Some of the compensatory strategies software can provide include:

 Text readers can provide instant support for individuals who have good auditory comprehension skills, but poor reading comprehension or visual perceptual deficits. The computer will read aloud and perhaps highlight or enlarge the text that is selected on the screen. Readers may then be able to enjoy an online newspaper, better understand a school assignment, read an e-mail from a friend, or scan a letter into a computer and have it read aloud.

 Voice-recognition software can help those who have difficulty writing. It enables individuals with relatively clear speech and intact cognition to talk and have the computer or a device such as the iPad or a BlackBerry phone type what they say.

 Graphic organizers can help people who have difficulty thinking of words and organizing written narrative by providing a means for them to brainstorm and represent their thoughts with images and visual support. There is software that can be installed on a computer or users can work online in the cloud.

 Word prediction technology and online dictionaries are helpful for people who have difficulty thinking of words. Several products offer semantic linking so that a person who can’t think of a word can type in a related word and gradually click on items to help find what he was trying to type or say.

 Digital calendars and organizers can help people who have problems keeping track of daily activities and have poor time management skills. These programs can be on a computer, online, or on a handheld device.

 A digital pen can record audio as a person writes in order to assist with recall of a lecture for a student who has trouble taking notes in class or to provide talking flashcards.

 Communication software can empower people who can’t speak by allowing them to select pictures or words and have the device speak for them. Most of these products can be customized to meet the needs of the user and many offer a dynamic display so that people can zero in on what they are trying to communicate with a couple of clicks.







Computers can provide

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8 Bewertungen / 8 Rezensionen
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  • (4/5)
    The book “The Ultimate Guide to Assistive Technology in Special Education: Resources for Education, Intervention, and Rehabilitation” is full of great tips and web resources. Green wrote about ways to use technology that most of us already have available to us that you may not have thought to use for assistive technology. For example, “ Spider solitare (the easiest level) and solitare (made easier by turning over one card at a time and showing the outline dragging options) are very helpful when individuals become adept at using the mouse, to improve visual-perceptual skills, and to practice verbal skills” (p. 196).I liked how at the beginning of some chapters they listed some characteristics that may be displayed by people with certain learning difficulties. Each chapter listed a lot of resources and I think the author did a great job covering a wide range of resources using all kinds of technology including computers, ipads, and other everyday technology. There was a good mix of free and paid resources and where to find them. On page 20 Green talked about “an Apple app titled Splashtop that...offers remote access to desktop or laptop touching the iPad screen” that I thought was pretty neat. I learned that there are products available to keep you from “hitting more than one key at a time” (p. 21) and to keep your keyboard safe from spills (which would also be useful for a klutz like me haha). The author mentions how you have to think about the technology you are using and how it will best help the person you are trying to help. “For instance, merely looking at a flashcard will not be as effective at stimulating language as it would be if a parent, teacher, or therapist turns it into a more interactive experiential activity” (p. 41). Consistency is also very important. “Family and close friends as well as teachers and colleagues need to be part of [the] process and learn how best to [use] these assistive therapy tools” (p. 55). Overall I think this book does a great job covering the technology that is available today to help out in the special education classrooms.
  • (4/5)
    Actually, I gave this to someone, though I did look through it - and liked it. Maybe I can go get it back from him, because at the time I wasn't working with special needs particularly, though I was interested in resources in education. So, though I don't know enough technically to judge some of the resources listed, I did find there were some potentially exciting software and links to good sites. The trouble is, anything about on-line resources is out-of-date immediately, which could be a drawback - but not necessarily. I would recommend this book (I think). I'm definitely more into technology now, AND I've been doing work with some people with learning differences, so I might appreciate this much more - 2 years later. If I can get it back, I may amend this review.
  • (5/5)
    The cover of this book states, "covers the use of technology to aid with speaking, understanding, reading, writing, thinking, and memory". It most definitely lives up to that promise, listing a wide variety of technology that can be used on many platforms, much of it free or very low cost. This book is clear, concise and very well laid out. Highly recommended as a resource for people with special needs.
  • (5/5)
    This is an excellent overview of the sorts of assistive technology available, and the ways it can be of use (and who it can best be of use to). Plus, not only does it give ideas for assistive technology that can be used for school students, but for others with disabilities, whether in school, at work, or at home.I especially like how the book is divided into sections as to the type of disability and the type of assistive technology within each section. This makes the book very easy to use.
  • (5/5)
    When I won this book in the Library Thing Early Reviewers program in August I was very excited. I had just taken a course on assistive technology, the use of technology to help individuals who struggle with communication, literacy, and learning, and was looking forward to learning more. When I finally received this book last week I eagerly started reading. I work with children with special needs in an elementary school, and privately, and have been using technology for years to assist and engage them in their learning. What I am always looking for, and was so excited to find in this book, was inexpensive or free options to try or to share with parents. Many of the children I work with are either not designated with a specific disability or do not qualify for extra funding for assistive technology. We need to make do with the technology we have available. The author, Joan Green, a speech and language pathologist, describes the software and assistive devices that are frequently used in special education to help students with physical or intellectual challenges to learn and communicate. But it is the resources that she lists which are economically reasonable or free that are the most exciting. She describes online resources, software and apps that can be acquired by the most financially strapped school or parents to assist their children in accessing their education. The book is well organized in chapters devoted to assistive technology to support students with specific learning issues. Highly recommended for educators, speech and language pathologists as well as parents of children with learning challenges.
  • (5/5)
    I found it interesting that I received this book right after accepting a position as a special education teacher. This book is excellent! It is chock full of lists of all kinds of resources and assistive technologies of many different kinds for every level of student. I even found some things that I just might use myself! This is a great resource for both educators and parents or other caregivers. Age isn't an issue, nor is ability level. There is truly something for everyone here. I am donating my copy to my school library so it will be available to all the special education teachers. This book is just too good not to share!
  • (5/5)
    Working in special education as a physical therapist, this book may not be as directly relative to my field as to that of perhaps a speech therapist's, but it still has a wealth of information, both for the lay reader &/or professional. Even though I should know better, I often think automatically of augmentative communication "devices" when I think of assistive technology, and so I initially expected this book to provide information primarily in regards to that. However, that's really not what this book is aimed at. "Tools" might be a better word to describe all of the resources included in this book -- tools that are most helpful in today's world of constantly evolving technology.The book is broken down into 13 chapters, targeting skill deficits in the areas of verbal expression, auditory comprehension, reading comprehension, reading skills in general, written expression, and cognition/learning/memory, as well as broader topics addressing computers & their associated software and apps, internet tools, online games & activities, and adaptations for e-mail, search engines, & browsers. There are numerous lists & suggestions, website references and specific costs (if applicable). This is a valuable resource for anyone seeking assistance with use of today's current technology to aid in communication, reading, writing, comprehension, cognition, & memory, and I couldn't begin to list all of the things I took out of this book. As technology changes so rapidly, I would hope there might be future editions of this book to keep up with the changing times. But as of this writing, I bookmarked numerous pages in the book & anticipate this being very helpful with my professional colleagues.
  • (5/5)
    Special education is not my field, but I am familiar with it as a volunteer teacher. This is a description of the technical help you can find on the web for people (kids and adults) who need to improve verbal expression, reading skills, auditory skills, cognition and memory. The author has done a tremendous job categorizing the various softwares and online programs you can find, if they are for PC or Mac, what is for free or what is the price. You might think that it is useless, because if you know a kid who is lacking reading skills, it is easy enough to find on the web a program providing exercises. But thist is where Joan Green's book is helpful: you find information on the techniques used, the age of the students, the type of disability it helps conquer, the program philosophy... and she covers more options that you can think of. In other words: you will find here information that would take you months to gather for each chapter. The field of assistive technology has exploded, and there are incredible possibilities out there. A number of apps are available. This book is worth it: it should be available in every library. I wish the next edition would offer a special chapter for ADD-ADHD: it is kind of included in the different chapters, but I feel the information is a bit short from that point of view.