What is assistive technology?

Assistive technology is any kind of technology and/or tool that can be used to enhance the functional independence of a person with a disability. Often, for people with disabilities, accomplishing daily tasks such as communicating with others, going to school or work, or participating in activities can be a challenge. Assistive Technology (AT) devices are tools to help overcome those challenges and enable people living with disabilities to enhance and have access to a quality of life, that may otherwise not be known, and lead more independent lives.

The mission of this blog is to serve as a voice of a constant researcher in the field of educational and assistive technologies so that the best products, strategies and services may be located easily, in hopes that they will then be delivered, taught and used to better the lives of people with disabilities.



So by now you probably have heard about podcasts. 

Podcasts are free radio shows that are delivered on a schedule to your computer, ipod or other portable media player, or smartphone. It's an easy way to get new exciting shows all the time without a lot of work on your end. Just choose among lots of new radio shows (and some of your favorite old ones) and they come to you automatically! You listen to them when you want, where you want, at the gym, on the subway, in the car, and walking out on a lunch break.

Learning in Hand shares that, "Students and teachers from all over the world are learning from audio and video programs on desktop computers, laptops, iPods, Pocket PCs, Palm Handhelds and other devices. Hundreds of free educational programs are avaiable online."

Not only should we be listening to podcasts however. As Apple Shares: "From lectures and slideshows to tours and interviews, podcasting engages students in ways the printed page can’t. And podcasts can be easily supplemented with other downloadable content such as notes, references, and links to related resources."

Podcasts -- audio recordings available online -- are relatively new to the K-12 classroom, and knowing just what you need to podcast and how to create a podcast can be challenging. Education World has compiled resources to help you understand podcasting -- and introduce it to your students.

There’s good reason to believe that podcasting will be even bigger than it is already. Google the word “podcast" and it’ll turn up almost 1.7 million hits, even though podcasting did not exist one year ago.

Check out the Podcast Network which offers a variety of programs to explore, not to mention the iTunes Store, which allows you to sign up to many at no cost.

Want to find out how to do your own podcast? Check out the following guides:
Or just try doing a search and many guides will appear!

Special needs students often have trouble focusing on a written evaluation and therefore require accommodations that involve teachers reading the questions in a separate room or act as a scribe for students writing. Consider pre-recording the test/assignment questions, and have the students listen and visualize the test question using an iPod.

Podcasts may also be created to help struggling readers learn how to read. Using Audacity, teachers can record the books to help these students get through the challenge.

Teachers who have developed comprehensive audio and visual files admit that it was time consuming at first, but of course, anything new requires a learning curve. Special Education students can feel comfortable and confident to take tests without adult intervention by using Podcasting so the time invested is worthwhile.

The uses of podcasting are endless; they have been used to listen to the daily news, learn languages, hear lessons, help students with reading and understanding, etc.

Start exploring and see what others have done:
Online podcast creators:

And remember: When creating podcasts and videos adding music and other sounds will really enhance your students' presentations. This site discusses seven tools that your students can use find and or create sounds for their multimedia presentations.