Schools are now embracing modern learning environments, some schools are fully integrating technology into their curriculums and classrooms.
The recent increase in the integration of technology into curriculums and classrooms by schools across the country is a good idea, but it could also pose a barrier to student with disabilities if proper digital learning tools are not provided. Schools must be mindful about potential barriers that students with special learning may face and provide the right digital tools for a highly inclusive and accessible classrooms.
For classrooms to become very inclusive and accessible to students with disabilities, educators need to utilize the right digital tools, and here are a few ways educators can help:
- Students with mobility needs: Students with mobility needs must be provided with a disability-friendly classroom, an accessible classroom is a key component of a modern learning environment, we need to ensure that students are more comfortable and independent in a classroom. Educators can also allow students to use interactive displays or touch-screen monitors if they aren’t physically able to use a keyboard or computer mouse. Assistive technology can help schools create more inclusive classrooms, it will also help students with disabilities participate in the general education curriculum.
- Students with visual impairments: There are several devices that comes with audiovisual assistance. For example, Google Chromebooks have a built-in screen reader called ChromeVox, which reads content out loud for users on the Chrome browser. On-screen content are easier to read on Chromebooks because it has screen magnifiers, high-contrast mode and select-to-speak features. Bluetooth-enabled braille keyboards can also be made available for students who may need a Braille support. There are several voice-to-text cloud-based applications such as G Suite for Education and Microsoft Office 365 built with dictation capabilities for student with visual impairments.
- Students with speech disabilities: There are applications with AI-enabled add-on that allows students to speak into a microphone and have their speech converted into text on the computer. Office 365 speech-to-text software and word prediction tools can assist students with speech disabilities in communicating with their teachers and peers.
- Students who are hard of hearing: There are FM systems — wireless devices that directly transmit sounds to a hearing aid — to communicate clearly with students who have hearing loss, even in a noisy classroom. Applications such as Flipgrid with closed-caption features can be used by teachers who use video technology in classrooms, videoconferencing tools such as Microsoft Teams, which comes with live captioning and subtitles can also be utilized.
- Students with learning, cognitive and developmental disabilities: Educators can create VR experiences for students with autism, tools such as memory aids, audio books and text-to-speech systems are especially helpful. Microsoft’s Immerse Reader is designed to support students with dyslexia and dysgraphia, it can read out text clearly, it can also break them into syllables — even in other languages.