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Smash the old images of a classroom with digital text

There is no doubt that digital technologies are a great way to support independence. The use of digital text within the classroom is a support that benefits many students who experience barriers with traditional printed media.

Assistive Tech is only for special needs kids… isn’t it?

Gotalk In the past only students with special education needs used assistive technology to access printed media, or to convey their ideas in writing or speech. Many devices were bulky, expensive and generally were only able to perform one function, like text to speech. As technology has evolved, the devices themselves have improved too. The development of portable devices; such as the iPad, tablet and smart phone means that assistive technologies are now more readily available to more students for a wider range of accessibility and learning needs.

Image source: Poule at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], from Wikimedia Commons


This video clip highlights the impact technology has on accessibility for a wide range of students needs. 

The Case Against Assistive Technology 

 View The Case Against Assistive Technology on YouTube

I particularly like that the concerns of educators from 1815 to 1950 are non-existent now, which gives me hope that the concern from 2008 will soon also be a thing of the past. 

  Assumptions about tech 

What would happen if we were to deny students with special education needs the use of Assistive Technology because of these assumptions?

Is there any difference to all students having the option to access digital text to be more independent?



  • Roxy Hickman (View all users posts) 24 Mar 2014 9:22pm ()

    Hi Megan, 

    Great to hear that you are using Clicker docs with your students. It is far more affordable now that it is available on the app store. It would be great to hear your experiences of how it is providing support for writing and what difference it is making in terms of students achievement. 

    For your students working within level one, I want to know more - What are their learning goals? You may find that by specifying the goal, it will narrow down the search for the appropriate supports. Consider what part of the reading and/or writing process needs to be supported and what are their next learning steps? 

  • Megan Stewart (View all users posts) 22 Mar 2014 1:47pm ()

    We have bought Clicker docs for about 12 of our students and most of them have found it very useful.  I'm interested in apps for students who work at prelevel 1 and level 1. the student I am thinking about in particular can now recognise letters andknows the sound they make, but I think she would be overwhelmed by clicker. Any ideas?

  • Roxy Hickman (View all users posts) 14 Mar 2014 10:58am ()


    You may also be interested in some of the Clicker Apps. Depending on the age of your student, their needs and their abilities, there are different levels that may be suitable for writing support. 

    Have a look at this video of Clicker Docs ($39.99 on the App store)

    See more on Clicker Apps Videos

    You may find Clicker Sentences more appropriate depending on your students needs. 

    Clicker Books is very similar to Book Creator, however it provides extra supports for students as they can access picture banks, word banks and voice over for the text they have typed. 

      Clicker Books App

    Image Source: http://www.cricksoft.com/uk/products/apps/clicker-apps/clicker-books.aspx

    These apps provide multiple options for expression and communication (Guideline 5) with the supports of predictive text, word banks, and students can listen to their work as they type or choose words. 

  • Roxy Hickman (View all users posts) 10 Mar 2014 9:19pm ()

    Meryl, It also depends on what part of the writing process needs to be supported. 

    You may find the discussion on Examples of how various apps support UDL Guidelines useful. The series of videos featured in this thread help to make links between the UDL principles and some common apps that are being used in classrooms. They also share specific examples of how each app can be used with students. 


  • linda Ojala (View all users posts) 08 Mar 2014 6:12pm ()

    Hi Merryl

    In terms of writing apps I guess it depends on the learner but 2 that students choose to use a lot are


    Book Creator

    With both of these you can insert video, voice, pictures and their own drawings.  It's fantastic to see one of my learners using Storykit to record her stories.  Currently she makes marks on paper with no letter formation. Storykit offers her a way to tell her stories and then share these with others.  



  • Cathiesten (View all users posts) 06 Mar 2014 8:36pm ()

    Well, we only have 4 iPads, but have been using educreations for writing and recording  working and explanations in maths.  The children like this and I can put a link  onto our web site as well as e mail home. About to start using QR codes and have experimented with tellagami.  So much to do and is little time!

  • linda Ojala (View all users posts) 06 Mar 2014 8:13pm ()

    Hi Cathiesten,

    Its been a pretty full on 5 weeks with BYOD. My class have been amazing, we are learning from each other all the time. I'm still trying to get my head around so many aspects but love seeing the engagement, collective community that is starting to develop and of course for a range of learners who can now use a range of tools to express their thinking, it's pretty exciting.  So much potential.

    What have you found successful with your learners.


  • merryl (View all users posts) 06 Mar 2014 8:45pm ()

    I'd love to know any apps you have downloaded for writing that help the learner.


    Thanks merryl


  • Cathiesten (View all users posts) 06 Mar 2014 7:58pm ()

     Hey Linda, we have iPads for our ORs children supplied by GSE.  Of the 4 we have, three have been trialed for writing.  As you say the freedom it gives to children who struggle with the writing process is great.  m has become as expert typist and has access then to the same curriculum and learning opportunities  as the rest of the class.  It's not unfair, it's equity.  How is the rest if BYOD going?

  • Roxy Hickman (View all users posts) 05 Mar 2014 9:39am ()

    I guess in some ways that is the point, why should one student have an "unfair advantage" because they have access to technology? In true UDL spirit we should (where possible) be encouraging technology as an option for ALL students, if that is what will engage them and help them succeed. Plan for those on the edges, and you will no doubt scoop up others who will benefit from that way of working.

    Anyone who argues fairness, I would question their purpose for using the technology in the first place. Are they using it because it is fun, or because it is the best tool for the job?

  • linda Ojala (View all users posts) 04 Mar 2014 8:48pm ()

    Thanks for the video link - food for thought and reflection, will be sharing this one.  I had a recent conversation around a student that really stuggles to write legibly but like so many stories we hear about has great ideas, you just cant read them.  Simply being able to use technology makes such a different but it is still seen as giving him an unfair advantage when other students need to use "pencil and paper".  Don't we want students to be independent and successful, to feel confident and make choices that will help them with their learning?   Often our students know what they need, what will help them -  we just need to ask.

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