Some handheld educational technologies can foster communication between teachers and nonverbal students. Usually, students with autism have issues with the discussion in special needs' classrooms. Digital devices such as iPads have a crucial role in ensuring there is effective communication between students with autism spectrum disorder and their teachers (Boser, Goodwin, & Wayland, 2014). In most cases, kids rely on such gargets as their voice. The findings in Maida (2015) noted that all students including those who are not capable of speaking and those with the capability to mention short phrases are always interested in saying something. Therefore, it is vital to provide a way through which kids with such special needs can communicate. Supported communication plays a role in ensuring that kids have lesser frustration and show an enhanced level of independence (Allen, Hartley, & Cain, 2016). The findings in Maida (2015) also noted that kids would have a reduced likelihood to be frustrated if teachers and fellow students understand what they want to raise. Maida (2015) noted that the level of independence was increased through the capability of availing numerous opportunities for making choices to students primarily in the usage of iPads. Specific educational technologies allow students to vocalize their choices and preferences (Young & MacCormack, 2014). Teachers in a study performed by Maida (2015) found that independence among students with special needs allows them to have active roles in the surrounding environment. Choices enabled learners to exercise a certain level of control over their surroundings.
Handheld technologies play a crucial role in averting writing difficulties that generally accompany children with dyslexia. The problem is usually manifested in the form of dysgraphia that affects children's capability for written expression. Children suffering from dysgraphia find difficulties in planning and setting out thoughts in a textual form. Some of the problems incurred include poor spelling, poor handwriting, and problems with fine motor skills (Hayes, 2013). Some children find it hard to visualize spoken words that they might have heard from teachers as texts. The difficulties encountered to make the writing process an arduous and slow process. Poor writing and reading skills hinder students with special needs from attaining academic success. Some teachers in Maida (2015) who allowed their students to use handheld technologies such as Livescribe smartpens had features that recorded everything that students wrote. Also, the students had an opportunity of turning handwritten notes into typewritten texts by touching with their fingers. The teachers noted that the students had a higher chance of ascertaining legibility when reviewing the notes. One of the teachers noted that an encounter with puzzling notations allows them to listen to recorded lectures delivered by the teacher. Listening to recordings enabled her students to understand implication in a different context.
Pens with the capability to take oral notes have all the features of a recorder, for instance, buttons of pause and built-in microphones. Some have cameras that take snapshots of things that individuals are writing. Ultimately, students are capable of transferring to PCs with the help of appropriate software. In Maida (2015), some teachers noted that search functions allowed students to navigate to specific challenging words. Pens with the ability to record lectures are adaptable for individuals with special needs. The studies noted that low writers who found it hard to cope-up with the teacher's speed had an opportunity of tapping the record button to retrieve anything that they lost (Cardon, 2012). Teachers in Maida (2015) also noted that students who listened more and wrote less had an opportunity of writing important points and concentrating on the teacher's voice. The use of handheld technologies has a learning curve with most kids being prompt in learning new technologies. Notably, recording pens in Maida's study allowed kids with learning difficulties to utilize their time in listening and learning rather than worrying about note-taking and writing. Students had an opportunity to fill in the missed things in class and had a thorough review of the materials. Additionally, kids had an opportunity to control playback speed by slowing down to process what they heard and increased the rate to pass understood notes.
E-readers boost the capability of students to read specific fonts in electronic form. The devices offer different font sizes designed for reading. Fonts such as OpenDyslexia allow kids affected by Dyslexia to learn with ease (Shane et al., 2012). Some kids may be destructed by the spacing between words and lines which appear like rivers of white spaces that affect their focus on the points of discussion in the text. In Maida (2015), users of Kindles had an opportunity of making adjustments on margins and line spacing that was likely to avoid distractions by white spaces. Newer e-readers had a chance to adjust the sizes of letters and the brightness of the home screen. The brightness adjustment allowed kids with dyslexia especially those with difficulties such as cases where glares tend wiping out printed words altogether to read and understand the content. Additionally, kids had an opportunity to decide the number of texts to be displayed on the screen at specific times. The capability of selecting on the number of words to be on the screen was helpful for students with problems of visual crowding.
Some handheld technologies such as e-readers come along with audio accompaniments with adjustable speeds to printed words. The technology enhances the accessibility of kids to written words. Children with the incapability to read have an opportunity of using audio books to have a ramp to numerous resources. E-reading will help students to read books and also expose them to a wide range of literature materials (Epstein, 2016). According to Maida (2015), the benefit of access to literature reduced the tendencies of missing out on classics as a result of reading difficulties. Assistive technology assisted learners with special needs to bridge the existent knowledge gap between them and their fellow peers. The technology put them in a better position to compete with others in receiving the education. The teachers noted that kids had a capability of succeeding in the classroom and proving that they are as smart as other kids having a similar learning experience.
Handheld technologies such as e-readers enhance learning experiences for students through the mediation of teachers. Kids with special needs have an opportunity of benefiting from technological resources besides the effort of a teacher to try and explain specific points to them (Montrieux et al., 2015). The availability of technological resources and teacher offers a unique and exceptional learning experience. There are also numerous features of educational technologies that make them effective learning and teaching tools for students with diverse exceptionalities. Some of the unique experiences include interactions with the touchscreen interface, predictability of capabilities and flexibility of technological resources (Pitchford et al., 2018). The characteristics ensure that the technologies are effective in supporting students with special needs. The findings in Maida (2015) recorded that touchscreen devices had different enhancements such as sight reinforcement and haptic feedback features that fostered the attraction and motivation of kids to use the devices. The predictability of handheld technologies manifested in the fact that students were not shocked by the unexpected change. The gadgets that students used for learning were always the same. Lastly, the versatility of educational technologies is realizable in the fact that teachers use the devices for various instructional purposes. The findings in Maida (2015) noted that teachers had an opportunity to balance between embracing a passive class where they could teach with a board for visual support or active involvement where students were capable of interacting with each other. The findings also noted that educational technologies such as interactive whiteboards facilitate the delivery of group instructions, collaborative learning, assessments, and distribution of personalized items.
Allen, M., Hartley, C. & Cain, K. (2016). iPads and the use of "apps" by children with autism spectrum disorder: do they promote learning? Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1305.
Boser, K., Goodwin, M. & Wayland, S. (2014). Technology tools for students with autism innovations that enhance independence and learning. Brookes Publishing.
Cardon, A. (2012). Teaching caregivers to implement video modeling imitation training via iPad for their children with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 6, 1389-1400
Epstein, V. (2016). 3 ways assistive technology is helping students with dyslexia. EmergingEDTech. Retrieved from: https://www.emergingedtech.com/2016/09/3-ways-assistive-technology-helping-students-with-dyslexia/
Hayes, H. (2013). How technology is helping special-needs students excel. EdTech. Retrieved from: https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2013/03/how-technology-helping-special-needs-students-excel
Maida, A. (2015). Special education teachers' perceptions and practices of technology integration for supporting students with multiple exceptionalities. Masters Dissertation, University of Toronto. Retrieved from: https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/bitstream/1807/68783/1/Maida_Alexandria_R_201506_MT_MTRP.pdf
Montrieux, H., Vanderlinde, R., Schellens, T. & De-Marez, L. (2015). Teaching and learning with mobile technology: a qualitative explorative study about the introduction of tablet devices in secondary education. PLoS ONE, 10(12), e0144008.
Pitchford, N., Kamchedzera, E., Hubber, P. & Chigeda, A. (2018). interactive apps promote learning of basic mathematics in children with special educational needs and disabilities. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 262.
Shane, C., Laubscher, H., Schlosser, W., Flynn, S., Sorce, F. & Abramson, J. (2012). Applying technology to visually support language and communication in individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42, 1228-1235.
Young, G. & MacCormack, J. (2014). Assistive technology for students with learning disabilities. Idatschool. Retrieved from: https://www.ldatschool.ca/assistive-technology/
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