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.


Pictures to Support Learning

Research supports the idea that images connect directly to long-term memory. Images are different from text in that they can communicate “lateral thinking, objectivity and global context”.
Acquiring new knowledge is difficult for most learners because they go about it the wrong way. Many of our learners will try to memorize difficult concepts from textbooks. However, our brain isn’t geared to learn this way.Learners can acquire more in chunks by visualizing difficult concepts.

Images provide a great UDL environment. Students learning English and student with learning challenges will learn much faster when images pair with text.

Graphics that include labels for unfamiliar parts or steps in a processes help students focus on key ideas.

Using images or graphs can help students understand abstract concepts in a concrete way.

Graphics combined with text can facilitate learning better than text alone.

Images with labels pointing out important features or processes can make concepts easier to understand.

Images are often needed by students to enrich their projects and reports. 

I was once told, never develop any handout for the classroom that does not include a graphic or two. Bottom line: research does show that graphics supports learning.
  • 3D Toad- A innovative site with interactive 360-degree rotatable images. 
  • Behold- A nice search engine to use with adult supervision for finding images on Flickr.
  • Do2learn.com - Black and white and color pictures designed for making schedules, story strips and other picture support programs for individuals with disabilities.  
  • Find Icons- A great site for finding free icons to use in the classroom. 
  • Google Images- A great way to search for images but, be sure the safe search filter is turned on.
  • Humanline- A new site for teachers and students for free images for art, history, science, etc.
  • Picture Dictionary - provides symbols with English plus other languages. Not only can you use these pictures to support learning or in communication devices but it offers activities also.
  • Pics4Learning thousands of images that are categorized and have been donated by students, teachers, and amateur photographers.
  • Veezzle- A free stock photo search engine and community. 
  • Visual Aids for Learning offers pictures designed mainly for the SH population to support behaviors, daily activities, home and classroom routines. This is a great site to share with the parents of your students. 
  • Visual Dictionary- Not only a great place to find educational photos, but also offers descriptions and more.
Check out: Widgit Symbol Resource Packs where you will find hundreds of free and low-cost symbol resource packs, created in partnership with professionals.
Widgit produce a wide range of symbol-supported learning materials and symbol stories, including extensive topic-based packs 'ready to go' for special and mainstream education, developed by the Symbol Inclusion Project.

Graphics and Multi-Media Websites: HIAT has a great lists of resources of graphics and multi-media websites that may be used freely. Always remember copyright laws when using graphics. It is not legal to use just any picture you find on the Internet without breaking these laws.

Pearltrees by Shelly Terrell provides you with direct links to many Internet sites focusing on using images in supporting learning.

For more information about Copyright Laws and other resources for using graphics in special education, visit Linda Burkhart's
site about finding pictures online. This is a great resource. Danbury Public Schools also provides a nice listing that includes music archives also.

Needing some ideas for how to use clipart and all those digital photos? Check out BigHugeLabs for great ideas of putting those pictures to use.

Go out and make it meaningful with that one extra step- graphics!