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.


Writing to Demonstrate Knowledge - Alternative Supports for

A writing-to- demonstrate- knowledge assignment is one that teachers employ when they assign reports, essays, persuasive writing letters and papers, and research papers.

When writing to demonstrate knowledge, students show what they have learned by synthesizing information and explaining their understanding of concepts and ideas. Students write for an audience with a specific purpose. But there are times when we might need to consider: can a student demonstrate their knowledge, synthesize information and explain their understanding without lengthy paper and pencil assignments?

When the writing task is the primary barrier to learning or demonstrating knowledge, then accommodations, modifications, and remediation of these problems may be in order. It is important to stress that the issue is not that the student can’t learn the material or do the work, but that the writing problems may be interfering with learning instead of helping.

There are multiple ways for students to independently demonstrate what they know using alternative electronic modes beyond paper and pencil:
  1. Insert Sound Object directly into Word or Ppt. (See Talking PowerPoint  and MS Word- Writing Tools Built in posts.)
  2. Record using Audacity
  3. Create a podcast (See Podcasting post.)
  4. Use Presentation Tools such as PreziPrezi, or VoiceThread ; great across all content areas (also check out Cool Tools for Schools and other Presentation Tech Tools)
  5. Record using tools such as the Echo SmartPen or digital recorder
  6. Use Digital Storytelling Tools
  7. Use word prediction software
  8. Use voice recording programs
  9. Try comic strips such as Make Beliefs Comix 
  10. Record using built-in webcam Electronic post it notes on-screen that are color coded
  11. Word processor set up on split screen. The left side is used as an outline and right side is the actual writing, following the outline.
  12. Excel for word wall, writing space, outlining or visual organizer.
  13. PowerPoint using sentence fragments, recording the slides as needed. Add pictures to jog memory or add an example.
  14. Concept maps/Graphic Organizers in paper format or in electronic format such as Webspiration, Kidspiration or Inspiration software.
  15. Use programs such as Wordle to create word clouds  (See "200 Ways to use Word Clouds in the Classroom".)
  16. Voice-to-Text software
  17. Make an InfoGraphic (see example below). 
These are some great alternatives when we are not assessing their writing skills, but asking: do they understand the content? 

For more, go to UDL Tech Tool Kit and Call Scotland's poster entitled: Supporting Writing Difficulties.

Please check out "A New Way to Write" by Sara Flanagan. This offers very rich ideas worth exploring!  

Don't forget the old fashion ways of demonstrating knowledge (design a poster, make a collage, etc.) which can be designed with or without technology. Remember: Not every student loves technology.  (Weird concept, isn't it?) For ideas, many that may have been forgotten, check out 72 Creative Ways for Students to Show What They Know. Make a poster of these ideas, add your own and when i comes time, let the students choose their desired approach. Design a rubric for expectations, what must be included and let them create. Much more interesting to grade and the other students will love seeing what everyone comes up with. 

Don't forget to consider all your options. Call Scotland has a wonderful visual to help you break down the problem and consider your options for providing support, "A step-by-step guide in the form of a question and answer ‘checklist’ helping you to identify problems and suggesting a range of practical technology focused solutions to support pupils with writing difficulties." Supporting Writing Difficulties  

I love this Infographic that provides options to "Show What you Know".  from Learning in Hand.
Technology and Learning has provided 40 Sites and Apps for Creating Presentations. What better way to demonstrate your knowledge than by producing a presentation to share with the class?
Creating a presentation or slideshow is a staple of any 21st Century Classroom and a skill that every successful educator has and every successful student should learn.  It used to be that only programs such as PowerPoint could create presentations.  However, now there are lots of sites and apps that not only create stunning presentations but also make it easier then ever. - See more at: http://www.techlearning.com/Default.aspx?tabid=67&entryid=5908#sthash.p0sAZfEr.dpuf
40 Sites and Apps for Creating Presentations