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What Are the Different Types of Assistive Technology for Children?

Mallory Hall
Mallory Hall

Assistive technology devices help to facilitate learning in children with disabilities. These specialized devices can help to improve reading, hearing and communication skills in those who may be restricted due to mental or physical limitations. There are various types of assistive technology for children available, including those that help with vision, such as computers that speak; sound field systems to help with hearing; and voice-to-text software to help with communication. Devices also include accessories to help children utilize assistive technology, such as foot pedals that function as computer mice and specialized keyboards.

Children with visual impairments, including partial or full blindness, can benefit from assistive technology devices. For instance, computers are available that are able to speak the words on the screen so that the child does not have to read them. Children who have difficulty seeing or reading may also find that computer screens with filters or reduced-glare screens may be better choices. There are also special keyboards that have modified layouts and large keys to help children who struggle with typing because of vision impairments.

Computer programs may serve as assistive technology.
Computer programs may serve as assistive technology.

Children with hearing impairments may need hearing aids or other devices that amplify sound for them. Other types of hearing assistive technology for children include sound field systems — special microphone and speaker sets located in the classroom so that the child can better hear the teacher's voice. Classrooms can also be equipped with visual devices such as flashing lights or bright lights that come on to alert the hearing-impaired child that the bell is ringing. A child's computer can also be equipped with a teletype (TTY) system that allows him to type a message to be read by an operator to the other person on the line.

Assistive technology may use games or simulations to walk children through specific learning processes.
Assistive technology may use games or simulations to walk children through specific learning processes.

Children with autism or other communication disabilities, including slowed speech or an inability to accurately put their thoughts into words, can benefit from voice-to-text software. This assistive technology software recognizes the voice of the child and converts his speech into text onto the screen of a computer. Other assistive technology for children allows them to type out their thoughts and the computers convert the words into audio and play it back to help them understand the sounds of their words and sentences. Additionally, expansion, abbreviation and word prediction programs help students who have difficulty typing long words and sentences by reducing the number of keystrokes required to formulate a complete thought.

Assistive technology for children has come a long way. There are devices available for children who have difficulty accessing all of the learning opportunities as well, such as a foot pedal that functions as a computer mouse. Likewise, touch keyboards make it easier for children to type who may not be able to properly press the keys on a regular computer keyboard, and alternative computer mice feature a rolling ball to help children scroll up and down pages if they do not have the arm or hand strength to do so the traditional way.

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    • Computer programs may serve as assistive technology.
      By: auremar
      Computer programs may serve as assistive technology.
    • Assistive technology may use games or simulations to walk children through specific learning processes.
      By: Chlorophylle
      Assistive technology may use games or simulations to walk children through specific learning processes.