Tips for Teachers

The benefits of incorporating assistive technology in the classroom

Assistive Technology is a term used to describe technology that makes tasks easier to perform, usually by automating steps associated with those tasks. These kinds of technology can be used in a wide variety of contexts, however the classroom is particularly important.

Implementing evidence-based assistive technology, such as Albitros by Intellischool, in the classroom plays a pivotal role in equipping students to engage both academically and socially. Students whose needs are met with assistive technology are more likely to perform at their best in a learning environment. That’s why we’ve compiled a guide to the benefits of assistive technology.


What conditions can assistive technology aid?

There are many different kinds of assistive technology in order to aid students with a large number of obstacles towards their learning. These come in the form of both hardware and software solutions that are tailored towards different conditions.

The amount of evidence-based assistive technologies available changes regularly. As a result, your role as an educator is to:

  • Understand the individual needs of your students
  • Remain aware of the technological solutions that are available
  • Consult all relevant stakeholders before implementing any assistive technologies, including:
    • The students themselves;
    • Parents/caregivers; and
    • Allied health professionals (e.g. occupational therapists).


Communication impediments

For students who have difficulties with communication, for reasons such as speech impediments or a language barrier, there are augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices available, such as;

  • Communication boards that students can use by pointing to or selecting pictures, letters and/or words to convey their messages. Boards and books can be arranged and customized in terms of accessibility, layout, literacy, and language to meet individual needs.
  • Eye control communication systems that enable all mouse movement functions to be made using head movements by tracking the movement of a reflective sticker dot usually placed on the user's forehead or glasses and translates this into mouse cursor movement on the screen.
  • Text-to-speech (TTS) software that converts text into speech sounds imitative of the human voice, allowing for students that cannot speak to express themselves and communicate.


Hearing impairments

Students with hearing impairments and difficulties with auditory processing have technology available to them to help them process sounds, such as;

  • Frequency modulation (FM) systems which operate like a tiny radio station with their own frequency. An FM system has two parts, a microphone and receiver. The student wears the receiver on their ear or in their hearing aids. This makes it easier for the student to hear the teacher’s words.
  • Voice amplification systems that operate similarly to FM systems, however the amplification of the teacher’s voice is heard by all students in the classroom as opposed to a single student.
  • Closed captions should be used on movies or videos that are played in any classroom.


Learning difficulties

There are various conditions that affect a student’s capacity to learn, such as dyslexia and dysgraphia. These conditions can be accommodated by technologies such as;
Highlighters, which can be used by teachers to segment large chunks of text to help students identify key points in order to aid their comprehension and memory.

  • Writing peripheries for students that struggle to write with a pencil or pen such as:
    • Bold-line writing paper with well defined dark lines.
    • Pen/pencil grips to make it easier to hold writing implements.
    • Writing guides made of flexible plastic which is placed over a blank piece of paper.
  • Multiple software solutions including:
    • Word prediction software
    • Speech-to-text software
    • Text-to-speech software


Physical impairments

Sometimes, students are presented with physical conditions that make it difficult for them to participate fully in classroom learning activities, such as impaired fine motor skills or chronic pain. These students can be provided with the autonomy to conduct their schoolwork, thanks to various kinds of technology such as:

  • Arm and wrist supports
  • Ergonomic and adaptive keyboards
  • Ergonomic seating
  • Footrests
  • Height adjustable desks
  • Pen/pencil grips
  • Sloped desks
  • Voice recognition and speech-to-text software


Sensory processing and regulation

The use of healthy, non-destructive sensory regulation behaviors should be available to students with sensory processing issues, as these behaviors may help them control their emotions so that they feel calmer and better able to concentrate in the classroom.

Students can have their focus improved using tools such as:

  • Fidget toys that allow them to keep their hands occupied when in the classroom, which are available in multiple forms such as fidget spinners, cubes or chewable jewellery.
  • Wobble chairs are a durable, scratch-proof seat made from polypropylene that promotes movement with its lightweight and soft-padded build.
  • Noise cancelling headphones that can phase out background noise in order to aid student concentration.
  • Elastic that can be wrapped around desk legs for students to bounce their legs on without distracting the other students.


Vision problems

There is a veritable wealth of tools available to aid students whose learning is significantly affected by vision impairments, including;

  • Braille and large print books
  • Large print, high contrast and braille keyboards
  • Magnification software
  • Text-to-speech software for reading
  • Speech-to-text for writing
  • Physical magnifiers
  • Reading gadgets that convert text to sounds
  • Talking calculators


What solutions does Intellischool provide?

Intellischool provides educators and learners with a series of data analytics products. Through intuitive interfaces, automated configuration, and advanced analytics, educational institutions are provided with real-time, relevant data for every member of the learning community.

Albitros is a school analytics platform that can be utilised by teachers, students, school leaders, wellbeing teams, parents/guardians, data analysts, IT admins and school systems in order to provide valuable insights into learning, behaviour, business operations, and more.

Its features include:

  • A holistic view of academic growth, thanks to its ability to consolidate data sources including NAPLAN, ACER, AAS / Allwell, and teacher judgements to visualise student aptitude, achievement and progress.
  • Pulse, an automated early warning system that monitors and notifies important parties regarding areas of concern, whether its student truancy, behavioural issues or overall academic performance.
  • The ability to gain an understanding of the conditions that students flourish best in; based on factors such as; different types of assessment, learning tools, and even teachers.
  • A simple yet powerful interface that anybody can use, regardless of their previous experience with analytics.

Albitros is hosted on the Intellischool Data Platform which provides comprehensive data management tools. These tools simplify and automate data processes such as cleansing errors, warehousing data on the cloud for querying and analysing, distributing data between apps and services and auditing what apps access and interact with data.

The data platform provides:

  • Easy data unification so institutions can collate data from a student information system (SIS), learning management system (LMS), Google Office 365, etc.
  • Security protocols that allow your data to be accessed and protected based on parameters that you set.
  • Workflow automation, integrating tools such as Microsoft Flow or Zapier to allow actions to be automatically triggered.
  • Cloud data synchronisation, which synchronises cloud apps with up-to-date data with programs such as Google Workspace or Microsoft Office 365.

If you have any questions, contact us so we can help you optimise your education institution’s data.


Cover photo by Javier Quesada on Unsplash.

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