Special Technology Tools and Apps. for SEND Children and Students (Guest Post)

Emma Robertson, advocate for innovation in learning has kindly provided this guest blog for Axcis which explores various tools and apps to support SEND children in the classroom and at home.

With technology becoming a big part of our lives, it comes as no surprise that those with students of children with special needs and disabilities are making the most out of it.

Assistive technology and various tools can help massively with specific disabilities or learning barriers – making learning more productive and prosperous. After all, we all learn and grow in different ways – finding the best way for your students and children is essential.

We’ve compiled a helpful guide to the best technology tools and apps, that will help SEND children. Here are our favourites, that will make a world of difference to students of all abilities.

We’ve compiled a helpful guide to the best technology tools and apps, that will help SEND children. Here are our favourites, that will make a world of difference to students of all abilities.

1. Text-to-speech Assisstive Tools

Used as assistive technology, text-to-speech (TTS) software, has been specifically designed to help those children who may struggle reading standard print. Whether this is blindness, visual impairment, learning disabilities, dyslexia, or any other physical condition, TTS will help.

Perhaps, more unknown is that TTS can also be used for those with autism, ADHD, or an intellectual disability.

TTS works by scanning and reading words to a student. With improvements in technology, TTS is becoming more advanced and accurate day by day.

Natural Reader online is a cloud-based speech synthesis application, that gives you the chance to convert word documents, PDFs, web pages, and eBooks. It is also very commonly used by UX writers and writing services WoWGrade.net to test how natural their texts sound.

Don’t worry – you can access British English, and choose from 56 natural sounding voices.

2. Match and Find

Match and Find is a fantastic app that has been created for SEND children. The design and the activities have been specially designed, ensuring that it is a friendly and suitable learning environment.

Match and Find will give children and students a chance to enjoy learning. Without any type of pressure, or complicated aspects.

Basically, Match and Find have been designed to help develop memory, searching, matching, and sequencing skills. This is extremely important for the development of numeracy, language and can even help children to develop their visual working memory.

This is available on iPads.

3. Timers

Sometimes the simplest tools, are actually the most beneficial. We love using times, for children and students that have trouble with pacing. In fact, everybody can benefit from a timer in their life.

Timers can be used to show SEND children how much time is left, which gives them a deeper understanding of time constraints.

If you find that your child or student struggles with switching from task to task, a timer can help them prepare for the switch in advance.

Most phones have timers. Otherwise, there are online timer tools.


4. SpeechBulbs: Language Therapy

This excellent app is actually beneficial for students with or without speech difficulties. It’s super fun, and helps with pronunciation – children won’t even realise that they are learning.

It’s a speech therapy application that utilises video technology and voice control. They aim to help develop speech articulation in children. This can be extremely beneficial to SEND children and students.

This is available for IOS and Android.

5. FM listening systems

Frequency Modulation (FM) systems have multiple different uses. We’d say that they’re a handy tool to have, anyway. However, they can come in handy for SEND students and children.

FM listening systems act as a special microphone and can eliminate background noise in the classroom, which ultimately helps with concentration. This can help with attention issues, as well as auditory processing problems.

Basically, a teacher wears a microphone, which either blasts their voice through speakers or to a personal receiver worn by an individual student. This will help with kids that have hearing impairments, autism, language processing issues, or autism spectrum disorder, too.

All in all, it’s a useful tool to have.

6. How do you know?

Another app, available on both Android and IOS – this time it’s aimed at helping your students improve critical thinking, and verbal reasoning skills.

Basically, it helps to explain how to answer specific questions, which many SEND children might find difficult.

The best thing is, secondary learning also happens through the app. It gives young people the chance to expand their vocabulary and discover essential literacy skills.

As with all the apps that we mention, it’s designed and created in a fun and interactive way. It doesn’t even feel like learning.

7. Alternative keyboards

You might already use special keyboards – but we thought we would mention them anyway, just in case.

Programmable keyboards have unique overlays, that can customise the appearance and function of a standard keyboard. Children or students that have learning difficulties can benefit from this greatly.

It can group keys by colour, location, add graphics, or reduces input choices. It’s just an added bit of help, that can make using a computer and learning more accessible.

It’s essential that SEND children to learn how to use computers, as they are a big part of our world.

8. Easy Dyslexia Aid – Dysgraphia Spelling & Literacy Helper

Obviously, this app is created explicitly for dyslexia. It could be an excellent choice for teachers or parents with dyslexic children or students.

One of the best features of Easy Dyslexia is that there are no additional options or pages. This means that those with learning difficulties can just dive right into learning.

9. Portable word processors

Some SEND children to struggle to write, which is where a mobile word processor comes in handy.

It’s a handy piece of technology to have so that learning and writing are possible anywhere and everywhere.

Conclusion

We hope you can be inspired by some of these options, and even download some new apps. Some of these you may already be utilising, but others you might not have also considered.

The tools suggested are functional and aim to make life and learning more accessible. Researching into assistive learning tools might revolutionise learning, for you.

We specifically like the fun, interactive apps- that make learning and discovering fun and exciting. It’s a great way to make valuable progress, without it feeling forced or boring.

Which tools have you used for your SEND child or student?

Emma Robertson is an advocate for innovations in learning. She collaborates with Studicus.comwhere she shares her experience on modern education and helps readers adopt innovative methods to develop new competencies. Emma can be easily found on Twitter @Emma70677393 where she constantly shares her posts.

If you’re looking for a SEND teaching or support job in England or Wales, why not register with Axcis, the SEND recruitment specialists? Or perhaps you need to recruit staff for your school or provision? If so, why not take a look at the Axcis Website, or get in touch today to find out how we can help?

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