Current research as reported by Kennedy & Deshler (2010) demonstrates that the gap between the level at which learners with learning disabilities (LD) perform and the demands of the learning environment as well as the curriculum that such learners are anticipated to meet is often wide. Fortunately, significant progress has been achieved in designing and validating technological interventions and instructional protocols that have been effective in improving the academic outcomes of learners with LD (Peterson-Karlan et al, 2008). This executive summary aims to provide justifications for the use of selected assistive technologies, namely text-to-speech engine, eText application, and Franklin Spell-Checker, to support the learner’s mastery of the learning goal and standard.
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The inability to read from written text, resulting in a lack of comprehension, has been documented as a major learning disability (Moorman et al, 2010). Here, it is widely believed that the text-to-speech (TTS) engine may assist learners with such needs. Among its justifications, the TTS engine can convert written text into computer-generated synthesized speech that is easily comprehensible to the learner with the outlined disability since the synthesized speech closely resembles natural speech.
Also, research demonstrates that TTS engine is effective in not only assisting the struggling learner to improve comprehension, fluency, and accuracy but the function of listening to a word which is spoken within the context of a passage greatly assist a learner with this type of LD to build word recognition and vocabulary without necessarily disturbing the flow of comprehension (Berkeley & Lindstrom, 2011; Moorman et al, 2010).
A significant proportion of students are faced with a learning challenge of failing to recognize certain letters, words, and numbers, or even omitting them while reading. Such students can be assisted by supported eText – an assistive technology that “…helps students gain access to text through simple changes to font size, color, and availability of other tools that are assistive in nature” (Kennedy & Deshler, 2010, p. 290).
Among the justifications, this technology is not only simple to use and interactive, but it provides other tools that intrinsically assist to improve learner decoding, fluency, accuracy, and reading comprehension through a multiplicity of embedded support protocols, including electronic dictionaries, links to external resources, and employment of cognitive learning approaches (Kennedy & Deshler, 2010).
Lastly, it is indeed true that some students are faced with the inability to check their work with calculators or by hand after completion of word problems. Here, the Franklin Spell-Check, a device that utilizes hand-held spell-check technology, can be used to assist learners to check their work after completion.
Among the justifications, it is important to note that this device is portable, implying that learners can use it in any type of environment. Second, this device runs on batteries and students can, therefore, use it in remote learning environments to check their work after completion. Lastly, the spell checker comes with other inbuilt functions, such as speech and pronunciation functions, which may be instrumental in assisting students with LD to enhance their comprehension of various learning tasks.
To conclude, it is indeed true that the emerging assistive technologies continue to forge a common ground through which learners with LD can be assisted to learn and comprehend various learning challenges (Moorman et al, 2010). The simple solutions discussed in this summary provide viable options for learners not to be discriminated against in various learning environments due to challenges in their learning capacities. The challenge, therefore, is for educators to ensure that learners with LD utilize assistive technologies that are tailored to their needs to ensure optimal performance and productivity in the academic field.
Berkeley, S., & Lindstrom, J.H. (2011). Technology for the struggling reader: Free and easily accessible resources. Teaching Exceptional Children, 43(4), 48-55.
Dyal, A., Carpenter, L.B., & Wright, J. (2009). Assistive technology: What every school leader should know. Education, 129(3), 556-560.
Kennedy, M.J., & Deshler, D.O. (2010). Literacy instruction, technology, and students with learning disabilities: Research we have, research we need. Learning Disability Quarterly, 33(4), 289-298.
Moorman, A., Boon, R.T., & Keller-Bell, Y. (2010). Effects of text-to-speech software on the reading rate and comprehension skills of high school students with specific learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 16(1), 41-49.
Peterson-Karlan, G., Hourcade, J.J., & Parette, P. (2008). A review of assistive technology and writing skills for students with physical and educational disabilities. Physical Disabilities: Education & Related Services, 26(2), 13-32.