Technology makes our lives better in so many ways. We can be more organized, more efficient, and more collaborative – all thanks to technologies. However, technology can also open doors for individuals in ways that prior to advances in technology were impossible. One of technologies most positive influences can be seen in adaptive and assistive technologies. These tools can give each individual tools to meet their needs. We see assistive technologies helping individuals in a wide variety of tasks and daily occurrences that they were unable to accomplish without the aid of these tools.
These assistive technologies can also serve to support the equity we need within our school system. In a recent Edutopia article, author Amy Borovoy stated, “In schools, assistive tech can mean the difference between a student falling behind or being able to successfully work alongside other kids in an inclusion model.” And as schools continue to strive to offer the best inclusive environment, we see all educators stepping up to support all students. It is not enough for special education teachers alone to understand the needs of special needs students (Roblyer, 2016, p. 404).
Accessibility Features – Lenovo Thinkpad – Windows 7
Due to the fact that my laptop is Windows based Lenovo calls out on their accessibility website that as a device running windows, one can access the Ease of Access Center through the control panel. Immediately upon opening this center a screen reader begins to read choices for the user. You can select by pushing the spacebar.
Windows Ease of Access Tools
On-screen Notification: This tool uses visual cues to replace sound notifications that a computer executes and benefits individuals who are hearing-impaired.
Audio Notification: This tool will offer audio interpretations of what is happening on the screen or in videos when available. This tool can benefit individuals with visual impairments.
Narrator: This tool is a screen reader that is built into Windows itself. Narrator will read aloud items being displayed and pop up messages. This tool would benefit individuals needing visual assistance.
Speech Recognition: This tool is used to control computer functions through the use of ones voice. Speech recognition allows dictation for word processing as well as vocally launching programs. This would benefit individuals needing physical assistance.
Customizable Text Size: This alteration allows for the user to change text size in certain areas rather than the desktop size as a whole. This text size alternations would benefit individuals with visual impairments.
Magnifier: This tool allows the user to magnify portions of the screen or all of the screen by choice. This allows the user to see words or images at any size need to access. This would benefit someone in need of visual or certain cognitive needs.
Zoom: This tool allows the user to zoom in and out of the browser display screen, in turn increasing or decrease text or image size. Zoom is an assistive tool for anyone with visual needs.
On-Screen Keyboard: This tool allows some access to the keyboard functions by clicking using a mouse or another device along an on-screen keyboard. This tool would benefit an individual with physical or cognitive needs.
Check out some curated assistive technology resources for students in the elementary language arts classroom.
Borovoy, A., (2014). 5-Minute film festival: The power of assistive technology. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/film-festival-assistive-technology.
Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching. (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.