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Cognitive Assistance Through Technology

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Introduction

Technology should be used in teaching and learning in order to help provide all individuals with opportunities to better themselves in terms of daily life. This section of the Wiki is dedicated to examining the issues of technology integration for students with cognitive exceptionalities (through a disability, talent, or gift), and provides links to software, resources, and websites for assistive technology that can be used to help this population.

Cognitive Disabilities

Cognitive disabilites are usually considered "mild" disabilities and include learning disabilities, emotional disabilities, and emotinal disorders. People with moderate to severe cognitive disabilities typically use assistive technology in order to help the individual in their daily living skills. The resources and practices refered to here relate more to students with mild disabilities.


Assitive technology includes low-tech options like highlighers, pens, and penvcil grips. Low-tech tools are typically nonelectrical. High-tech options are refer to the computer or electrical assistive devices which typically cost more and are less accessible to all individuals. Though the availibility of these tools is less widespread, they can be the most effective in assisting people with cognitive disabilities, and can often help mask the disability.

Best Practices

Assistive technology will be most effective when students have access to it in their natural classroom setting. For example, while an inclusion student with a cognitive disability is in the classroom, the teacher can instruct while the student sits at a computer equipped with the assistive technology needed for him or her to be successful at the day's lesson.

It is also important that the teacher working with the student be trained on how to integrate the technology into the individual's daily education routine with out causing disruption to the natural schedule. Teacher preparedness is important when implementing technology into every area of education.

Most of the resources below fit into the classroom and can be used for differentiation amongst individuals, small groups, whole groups, multiple intelligences, and learning styles. Resources that can be used to help mask a cognitive disability, and enable an indivual to access the same information or perform at an equivalent level to those not needing assistance is best broken down by individual subject or area of need.

Reading

Students with cognitive disabilities in the area of reading can benefit from the following programs:

  • Kurzweil 3000 is a text scanning software that allows for type-written text to be scanned into the computer and read aloud. Kurzweil offers many benefits to enchance reading fluency, such as voice options, highlighting options, dictionaries, a thesaurus, and a syllable break down. Toolbars are user-friendly, so children and adults of all ages can benefit from the services it offers. This software is approved by the state of Maryland for accommodating students on state testing where IEPs may require a student to have verbatum reading. http://www.kurzweiledu.com/aboutus.asp
  • Soliloquy is a software program which offers reading passages from familiar children's magazines or excerpts from books. The story can be read to the user, or the user can read and record the story. When key words needed for fluency are read incoreectly, the program will stop, provide hints on pronunciation, and move on once the words are read fluently. There is a glossary provided to aid in comprehension. The best part is that a quiz is included for all programs, so comprehension is not forgotten. Soliloquy monitors reading rate (Words Per Minute), how many questions were correctly at the end of a section, and it shows how far the user progressed throughout the assignment. It also can track recordings. http://www.soliloquylearning.com/
  • Fast ForWord is a reading program that helps low-proficiency readers distinguish phonemes and different sounds in oral language. It is availible in the areas of reading and language arts, and is availible on CD-ROM and internet based versions. Students in grades K-12 can benefit from the program. Fast ForWord is only one of an array of products offered by the Scientific Learning company. http://www.scilearn.com/
  • Read Please is a text-to-speech software that reads text as it appears on the screen. It can help dyslexic readers, slow language processors, and even help the visually impared. It can also help students find errors within their own writing. It is a resource intended for use at all ages, and there are free downloads availible. http://www.readplease.com/

Writing

  • Word Q is designed to supplement existing word processors or writing software. It is a text-to-speech type software which provides direct orsl feedback and assists writers in editing and finding mistakes. http://www.wordq.com/
  • Speak Q is a sister software to Word Q, however it allows the user to write by speaking. The writer uses a microphone and speaks aloud their ideas. The program automatically changes the spoken words into type written words. Speak Q effectively comines voice recognition and word prediction software. http://www.wordq.com/speakqenglish.html
  • An Alphasmart can be provided to students that struggle with the physical process of writing. An Alphasmart is a portable keyboard which makes it easy to implement technology into any classroom setting. The Alphasmart can then transfer any typing completed on the screen to a printer so "written" work can be turned in with ease. http://www.alphasmart.com/

More Language Arts Resources


  • Don Johnston Incorporated is a educational resource provider and creator of many popular assistive and adaptive technologies. Don Johnston Incorporated offers reading, writing, and word study assistance through many different resources. Some of their more popular programs include:
    • Read:OutLoud (a text reading software that provides interaction to enhance comprehension),
    • Write:OutLoud (a talking word processor that guides students through the writing process), and
    • Co:Writer (a word prediction software that helps struggling writers complete their assignments, and can save time for slow typers).

http://www.donjohnston.com/index.htm

  • Inspiration is a concept mapping/outlining software which allows students to map out their ideas and thoughts. This can be a beneficial program for students with spatial reasoning disabilities, or can help struggling writers. Inspiration can switch between a diagram view or outline view, insert pictures, and can even transfer work into a word processing program. More recently, Inspiration is making its way into the business world through plam pilots for personal use! A primary grade option is to use the sister software -Kidspiration. http://www.inspiration.com/home.cfm

For more about how technology fits into a language arts curriculum, click hereto be taken to a related Wiki site.


Mathematics

  • Understanding Math is an assistive technology tool meant for use by the teacher. Unlike many of the more commonly used math software, Understanding Math not a game and is not used for repetion of basic facts. Teachers use the program for demos in front of class, or could be used at stand alone computers for students to be accelerated or accomodated. Intended for students in grades K-10, there are ten programs. The K-3 Program teaches focuses on numeration, while the other nine programs for students in grades 4-10 are topic specific and include concepts suc h as fractions, measurment and geometry, alegbra, and more. This is not meant to teach the curriculum, but rather for usein categeorizing large topics into subtopics, and to take the learner from concrete to abstract thinking. It starts at the beginning with basics,and adds on to abstract rules. Understanding Math offers many ways to re-explain the topic to students. This is a great software to help differentiate for multiple intelligences, or for students that need things demonstrated in different ways. http://www.neufeldmath.com/
  • A calculator, though thought to be a more simple form of technology, can be beneficial for students that have disabilites related to memory or number concepts.

For more about how to integrate technology into a mathematics classroom, click hereto be taken to a related Wiki Site.

More Assistive Technology Devices

  • AbleNet — offers practical products and creative solutions for teaching children with disabilities.
  • Early Learning Site — computer software to assist parents and educators develop a child's speech, language and communication skills.
  • Judy Lynn Software — Software designed specifically for children with developmental delays and limited motor skills.

Gifted Education

Gifted students would benefit from using technology to help extend and enrich existing curriculum. Using computer-based resources are a great way to provide gifted students with an opportunity to network beyond their immidiate community, and gain global understandings of the topics they are researching or examining.


Though there are no specific programs or tools designed for use only by students that are considered Gifted and Talented, the following websites and programs are examples of how technology can be used to accomodate and enhance education for this population.

  • The internet provides easy access for gifted students to become members of an international learning community and provides resources for further in depth topic research and exploration.
  • By Kids For Kids is a website which provides students access to develop the 21st Century Skill of Problem Solving. Through this website, students can develop ideas and create new inventions. Gifted and Talented students can benefit from this website by critically thinking to solve real life problems they may be faced with. http://www.bkfk.com
  • Webquests are easy ways for teachers to differentiate classroom lessons, as well as provide extensions and enrichment opportunities for students that have already mastered objectives. Webquests are availible to all grade levels, and range throughout each curricular area. If you can not find a webquest that meets your students' needs, you can always create your own. The following link leads to a site of existing webquests. http://www.webquest.org
  • Robotics is an up and coming form of technology which encourages students to see "how things work". For more on robotics, click hereto be taken to a related Wiki Site.
  • In addition to Robotics, other emerging technologies such as Blogging and Podcasting can provide opportunities for extensions and diiferentiation of classroom lessons. For more on these and other emerging technologies, click here to link to a related Wiki site.
  • Online classes and virtual high schools can provide an extension of the school day for students wishing to explore more subject areas than the six hour school day allows. High school students can take advanced placement college courses and earn college credit through the internet, rather than just attending lectures in a classroom.
  • The JASON Project is a curricula supplement which enhances students with hands-on explorations and experiments, just as adult scientists do in their everyday jobs. JASON provides a jump start for students to become life-long learners in the areas of math, science, and technology. The JASON Project is best fitted for students in grades 4-9. Students can benefit from becoming memebers of a virtual research community, multimedia expeditions, broadcasts, and videos, and JASON also offers online professional development opportunities. http://www.jasonproject.org/

What are Local School Systems Using?

  • In the Manalapan-Englishtown Regional School district in New Jersey, elementary schools are effectively using Fast ForWord to help struggling readers, as well as children that are recieving speech services.

Where to Find Out More

  • Envision Technology is a Bethesda, MD based company which provides products and services to an array of businesses, schools, and associations in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Through Envision, you can purchase Kurzweil products, Soliloquy, Inspiration and Kidspiration, Word Q, Understanding Math, and many more! http://envisiontechnology.org/
  • The Family Guide to Assistive Technology goes into further depth to help in order to provide a resource and understanding for the families of individuals that may benefit from the use of assistive technology. http://www.pluk.org/AT1.html
  • For more places to purchase software or find out more information about Assistive and Adaptive technology, see the Physical Assistance Through Technolgy page here.

What Have You Learned?

Take an assessment to see what information you have gained from reading this page.

Additional Resources

In addition to the links provided, text resources used to create this site include:

Baum, S. & Owen, S. (2004). To Be Gifted & Learning Disabled. Connecticut: Creative Learning Press.

Roblyer, M.D. (2004). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (3rd ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.

Schwab Learning (2002). Assistive Technology Guide (3rd ed.). Retrieved February 18, 2006 from: http://Schwablearning.org

Assistive Technology Home

Assistive Technology


Cognitive Assistance Page Written by: Janelle Rucinski 2006

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