photo © 2009 kev_hickey_uk | more info (via: Wylio)
In past posts I have addressed how tablets (xoom, iPad…) might change education, or not… depending on the educational objective. Now let’s talk about how these new devices can help special education students. In the past there were two lines of technology development, one being the ‘regular’ technology development and one for assistive technology development. Typical assistive technology five years ago (and admittedly still being purchased in many schools today) might be DynaVox, GoTalk+20 or other special device (see list of augmented communication devices here and here). For notetaking a student might have an alphasmart or fusion assigned to them. What I think is happening is that some of these device developments are merging with the ‘regular’ technology development. For instance, with notetaking I think it is a better idea to give a student a netbook, which would give them more functionality, is cheaper than most other devices, and still gives them the portability. (Depending on the student’s other needs maybe also giving them a tablet with a bluetooth keyboard would work, although for only a note-taking device my thought is a netbook would work better for most students.)
The other big area in assistive technology is augmented communication devices. More and more I am seeing a shift from the traditional devices to giving a student a tablet, such as an iPad. Some of the augmented communication apps available are Proloquo2go, OneVoice, Talking Tom and Voice4U, just to name a few. The best part about using a tablet is that tablets not only can be their communication device, but can also include other apps that address other educational goals and objectives for the special education student.
Tablets are perfect for that one-to-one device for each special education student because it can be customized to fit their specific needs. In essence it will grow with the student, apps being uploaded as students’ needs change.
Here are some great resources for special education apps and other information:
Apps, apps, so many apps (great resource by purpose)
Of course, with that said, there will still be a need for specialized communication and other devices that meet individual student needs. These devices are still being developed and get better all the time. Once again, the important place to start is the individual student’s need. If there is indeed an app for that, and the student is able to use the tablet efficiently and effectively then why not choose a device that grows with the student and can allow them to be successful in their goals?