Begin to tap their possibilities as “already in school” assistive technology
As administrators, equipment purchasers, and educators see the numbers of identified special needs students in self –contained classes or inclusionary classes rise, they calculate the costs and quantity of additional assistive technology devices they will need to support these special needs learners. Yes, these learners will benefit from a variety of assistive technology resources, but one is already in use in the classroom, that has untapped myriad uses for special needs learners. As a bonus, it does not look any different from the Chromebook their classroom or age peers are using with acuity because . . . . IT IS THAT VERY SAME CHROMEBOOK.
Here are some of the many immediate Chromebook as assistive technology features and resources, special needs learners can implement with the help of their teacher or aide or distanced support. Even better, they and their peers can work collaboratively connected by the teacher managed network with special needs students receiving audio or video private feedback as well as being part of an inclusionary community conversation or as equitable bright classroom community members on school-wide projects
- Visually impaired students can:
Enlarge the cursor,
Turn on screen magnifier which enlarges text to decode,
Turn on high contrast mode,
Turn on the spoken feedback,
Use Speakit to convert highlighted text into speech,
Turn on the onscreen keyboard which can be clicked with a mouse,
Turn on sticky keys,
Use CHROMEVOX to describe what is on screen so hard to read web pages and documents can be read out loud,
Use a refreshable Braille display.
- Hearing impaired students can access if the managing teacher or administrator allows:
Khan Academy with its visually focused learning content that also works for learners with visual learning styles or You Tube selected videos for learning and for researching,
Lock the keyboard on screen using the keyboard lock on bottom right,
Curate photos with hearing impaired student produced and narrated videos of sign language commentary and reflections,
Turn on the high contrast mode making the screen easier to read,
Use speech to text.
CHROMEBOOKS TAKE AWAY TRIGGERS AND DISTRACTIONS
Special needs educators and support personnel know that triggers which dissipate inherently bright special needs students from content mastery, critical thinking and 21st century problem solving include distractions such as advertisements or graphic layouts or competing underlying sound scores and mechanical special needs impediments for effective visual tracking, decoding, note-taking, and mathematical constructions . But when special needs users with the support of their managing teachers and aides/resource staff open their Chromebooks, they are able using the already available accessible features and resources, able to IMMEDIATELY apply their inherent creativity and thinking skills equitably with their age and grade peers minus any other assistive tools.
That translates to a hearing impaired or visually challenged learner or a learner dealing with emotional issues being able to with triggers of text they cannot decode or distracting sounds and images or fragile nature of most technology tools- Chromebooks CAN DROPPED and KEEP ON OPERATING-taken away focus anxiety free on the task, challenge, collaboration or real world issue at hand along with every other student in their school. Not only are the ubiquitous Chromebooks already a special needs user friendly classroom tool, but ironically their potential use by peer regular education learners concurrently with special needs learners researching or conversing or collaborating about the same topic, make Chromebooks the unbreakable emblems of inclusionary education!!
Who knew that a powerful assistive technology force for special needs student learning and leading was already good to go in a few seconds in many classrooms!! Need assistive technology immediately in your classroom, grab Chromebooks to make it so!!!
For further information: http://normteachersblog.com/google-apps-and-chromebooks-for-special-needs
Google Tools for Special Needs
Google Accessibility Features and Resources
Read Tina Ornduff’s EdTech Learning Log April 2014 entry about Chromebooks.