Communication (AAC) Alternative/Augmentative Communication (1 no/low tech, 2 high tech)
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is a term used to develop strategies in order to assist students with communication disabilities to participate at a higher level in activities that may involve interaction in a communicative way. There are different categories that an AAC device can fall under, a no/low tech device and a high tech device. These devices help students in their communication skills through both audio and visual assistance.
An example of a no/low tech AAC: Choice BoardsChoice boards are used by offering objects, pictures or symbols to communicate their preference of activities they wish to do, including subjects such as reading, writing, snack/leisure, daily living, and transition activities. This is used in classrooms by teachers who have students with communication difficulties. They can use these choice boards as a way for the student to communicate which activity they would like to do next in the classroom. This opens up the communication for the students to respond to teachers and better connect.
An example of a high tech AAC: Icon Speak and Mobile Talker
The icon speak and mobile talker is a device that uses picture icons in order to express what the student is trying to verbally say. For example, if a student needs a drink of water, they would click on the picture with a glass of water on it and the icon speak and mobile talker would say, "I need a glass of water please." This is used as a substitute for communication when a student has a disabilities that makes it difficult for them to orally communicate what they would like. There is a library of icons on the machine or the student can use their own and it has multiple voice libraries or they can record their own voice as well. This is a great way for the student to feel like they have a voice in the classroom even when it is sometimes difficult for them to communicate with others.
Accessibility (1 hardware option, 2 software options)
In human-computer interaction, computer accessibility (also known as Accessible computing) refers to the accessibility of a computer system to all people, regardless of disability or severity of impairment. An input device can be used in order to enhance accessibility for special needs students by making it easier for them to input data into the computer (ie. using keyboards etc.)
An example of a hardware option: Braille Embosser
A Braille Embosser is an impact printer that converts text from the computer into tactile Braille cells. Braille Embossers use braille translation software on a computer so that the document can be embossed. This is useful to students who are blind. This helps them to be able to function in a normal classroom using a computer just like everyone else, only they have access to the Braille Embosser which will help them to be able to print out what they were writing on the computer. This would be useful to have in special education classrooms, especially in high school as well as in school libraries and public libraries in order to give blind students access to a hardware option of accessibility in technology.
An example of a software option: Screen Magnifiers
A screen magnifier is a piece of software that allows a computer's graphical output to present enlarged screen content. It is a type of assistive technology that allows visually impaired students with functional vision participate in normal activities using a computer. For student that are visually impaired, this software can be such a great tool for them academically because it opens the door to being able to use the computer in ways they could not before due to the lack of sight. It is difficult enough to see a computer screen let alone have a disability that makes it even harder. This device can be used in the classroom so that students who are visually impaired can have access to the use of computers.
Another example of a software option: Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
Optical Character Recognition, also known as OCR, is the mechanical or electronic translation of scanned images of handwritten, typewritten or printed text into machine-encoded text. It is used to convert books and documents into electronic files. This type of software makes it possible for programs like the text-to-speech device that has been made famous by Stephen Hawking. Using Optical Character Recognition a student with disabilities can convert images into text which may help for someone who is visually impaired. These tools can be utilized in a classroom in order to help facilitate learning for someone who is visually impaired.
For other AAC devices in Technology see:
Allison's Blog: I found that the "Theme Boards" you had were very similar to my posting on "Choice Boards" only instead of using graphics with choices for the activities these students would do, this showed themes using pictures of what subjects they would be discussing. These are great devices!
Ana's Blog: I would have never thought that Sign Language could be a low-tech device for this assignment! Once you really think about how sign language uses visually transmitted patterns to convey the same message to someone with a hearing disability as the English language would to someone without that disability, it makes a lot of sense.