Willingness to use assistive tech

It’s the last day of Tech Week. We’ve talked about online games designed for students with dyslexia, text-to-speech software, apps, eReaders, and more. One thing we didn’t talk about is a student’s willingness to use assistive technology. Will the use of assistive technology make the child feel that his learning difference is now more obvious to everyone around him? Does it make her feel “cool” to use it? Or does it make her feel like an oddball?

School can be a difficult community in which to live. There is a tremendous amount of pressure to “fit in”. Being different can make you a target for bullies or at least cause you to be ostracized. Teachers, administrators, tutors and family members can unwittingly feed those negative feelings by clinging to tradition and having an unwillingness to embrace new technologies or teaching methods. “This is the way we’ve always done it” implies that anything different is wrong.

It may not be fair to have such an environment, and it is something that needs to change, but in the meantime, the students have to live in that environment. We need to make those hours as bearable as possible for the students. When choosing an assistive technology, make certain that your child is proud to use it. If it causes your child embarrassment, your child will not use it. In fact, it may even damage your child’s self-esteem.

The assistive technology that you choose must also be acceptable to the teachers. Some of my teachers frown upon using anything other than a pen and paper in class. That’s when my smartpen comes in handy. The pen blends in with all of the other writing utensils in class. No one notices that it is a very powerful assistive technology. It’s just a pen.

When choosing an assistive technology, look beyond the reviews and specifications. Ask your child how he or she will feel when using that technology in front of his or her classmates.