Special-Needs Education Devices

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    Visual Impairments

    • Students with vision impairments can benefit from software that reads textbooks and other documents aloud. For example, JAWS software can read electronic text; Kurzweil products can scan text, then read the text aloud and allow the student to select key information. Other accommodations include oversized monitors, screen enlargement software (such as ZoomText) and Braille software (Duxbury) that converts text to Braille. A magnifier Included within Windows 7 allows users to magnify the original up to 16 times, according to Microsoft.

    Physical Disabilities

    • Students with physical disabilities may need voice recognition software, such as Dragon Naturally Speaking or ViaVoice, to convert their speech into written text. With sufficient vocal ability and practice, users can trust such programs to type their papers--often with correct spelling. A large trackball mouse can allow greater control for some physical disabilities. Windows 7 provides several features, such as an on-screen keyboard that allows users to enter information with a mouse or pointing device.

    Hidden Disabilities

    • Students with learning disabilities, traumatic brain injury or attention deficit disorders may profit from the same assistive equipment provided for visual disabilities. For example, if the disability involves reading comprehension, software that scans and reads documents aloud provides a solution. Similarly, reading pens, such as the Reading PenTS, scan and read textbooks and handouts. Voice-recognition software, also useful for physical disabilities, can enhance spelling performance. In Microsoft software, standard spell- and grammar-check features provide more assistance.

    Hearing Impairments

    • From the University of Washington, the DO-IT resource (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology) suggests devices for those with hearing loss. Real-time captioning can project lecture notes on a screen; FM systems amplify an instructor's voice. Two-way typing systems, such as Ubiduo, can enable communication between the hearing and the deaf. With Windows 7, users may replace sounds with visual cues (flashes) or with text captions to indicate the completion of a printing job.

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