For students with dyslexia and other learning differences, assistive technology bridges any gaps in their foundational skills allowing them to overcome challenges that stand in the way of fully understanding or engaging in schoolwork.
At Lawrence, our approach to assistive technology in the classroom is thoughtful and seamless. By incorporating the daily use of these tools, students who struggle with a specific skill area can compensate, build confidence, and become more independent.
Assistive technology is a device, piece of equipment, system, or software that helps bypass or compensate for a student’s academic challenges. These tools help students who struggle with listening, math, organization, memory, reading, and writing.
Assistive technology does not cure or eliminate learning difficulties, but it can help students capitalize on their strengths and work around challenges to increase their self-reliance and independence.
Examples of assistive technology tools include:
Different tools are helpful for different students, depending on the challenges they face. For example, a student who struggles with reading but has great listening skills might benefit from a device that allows them to hear text while reading.
At Lawrence, technology is thoughtfully embedded into daily life in a seamless K–12 integration. We train students and teachers on a variety of innovative devices, software, and tools that allow them to capitalize on their strengths, enhance learning, and increase engagement. The following are some of our most heavily-utilized tools:
Laptops and Chromebooks are essential for students who do better when reading text in digital formats or who struggle with handwriting. Laptops and Chromebooks allow students to use programs such as Google Docs and OneNote. These programs support executive function tasks because they use auto-save and make it easier for students to find and organize documents through search functions.
Smartphones are used by many high schoolers to listen to audiobooks on Learning Ally, manage their assignment notebooks, or take pictures of notes on the classroom board.
Touch LED boards encourage students to interact with content in the classroom.
Digitizer pens and device touchscreens paired with OneNote allow students to take digital notes and to complete activities like worksheets that are tedious to type.
Microphones allow students to write using dictation or voice typing. This helps students with written expression or working memory issues get their ideas on the page quickly and efficiently.
Webcams are used by students to record themselves through programs such as FlipGrid to submit oral answers to teachers’ questions. This is especially helpful for students with written expression issues or those studying American Sign Language or Spanish.
Headphones enable students to listen to text versions of documents, textbooks, and literature through Lawrence’s own digital library, Learning Ally, or Bookshare. The difference can be dramatic: A child who reads printed text at 60 words a minute may jump to 300 words a minute with a device that allows her to hear text as she reads.
But there’s never a one size fits all solution! Just like everything else at Lawrence School, assistive technology is customized for each learner. Our tech team, made up of three full-time specialists, assess each student’s specific challenges and strengths and creates an individualized plan to ensure they have access to the tools they need.
Lawrence School’s Ethan D. Schafer Center for Learning Differences also offers assistive technology assessments and coaching for the greater community. Click here to learn more.
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