10 assistive technology Apple and Android apps

These apps can help special needs students thrive in a higher education setting

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As the higher education landscape changes to one more suited to serving the diverse needs of students, part of that responsibility is in helping find resources that can assist special needs students in navigating curriculum, course management and communication.

Some of the more common concerns students with special needs face, such as text-to-speech functionality, organization and scheduling, and communicating with faculty and admin their needs or questions, now have apps available for Apple products—and many times, Android—to help with those concerns. Many have been vetted specifically by educators or students with special needs.

For example, students who have difficulty writing due to disabilities can benefit from the free Dragon Dictation app; or if a visual disability makes using a calculator difficult, the Talking Calculator app could become an ideal solution.…Read More

Grad students developing GPS project for visually impaired

A GPS-based project would help blind students travel easily around college campuses.

At 356 acres, California State University, Northridge (CSUN) can seem like a mini city where one can easily get lost without a map. If you are blind or visually impaired, finding your way about the campus and its more than 100 buildings can be daunting without a guide.

Graduate students Robert Sweetman and Trudy Bowden-Callahan, both earning master’s degrees in assistive technology, are hoping to change that.

The pair received a $20,000 grant from the Ethel Louise Armstrong Foundation to develop a global positioning program that would not only help blind and visually impaired students navigate the CSUN campus, but provide them with information about what’s inside the buildings they are passing, as well as what lies ahead.…Read More

Ed-tech leaders push closed captioning, compliance monitoring

Assistive technology experts say higher-education officials have taken a closer look at such online tools in recent years, in part because of laws that require better access.

Teaming up with companies that provide transcribers or software that scans recorded lectures and provides transcription, colleges and universities are increasingly looking for new, inexpensive ways to eliminate barriers for students with disabilities in the lecture hall … or those who use a computer to access instruction.

Assistive technology experts say higher-education officials have taken a closer look at such online tools in recent years, largely because the costs of these technologies have dropped precipitously since the early 2000s. The threat of lawsuits for failing to comply with accessibility laws, and the rise of mobile devices that have removed some of the stigma attached to assistive technology programs, also are factors.

Providing accessible technology that translates lectures from speech to text and makes campus websites readable for everyone has been a welcomed development for many students with disabilities, said Jim Stachowiak, associate director of the University of Iowa’s Center for Assistive Technology Education and Research.…Read More