“Being an online student I do not feel that I really have any challenges that are caused from my injury, except for typing or doing things like that one-handed. It has not affected my learning ability. I use speech-to-text software. That is a very helpful tool especially when writing papers, responding to discussions, online study groups, and e-mailing.”
All of use assistive technology in our daily lives to help us complete tasks that might be difficult or even impossible to do on our own. These tools can be as simple as a highlighter, pencil grip, or reading glasses; or more advanced like a smart phone or computer program that allows you to dictate into the recorder and posts your words on the screen. There are many different types of assistive technologies available that range in price and capabilities.
- Smart pen: computer in a ballpoint pen that captures handwriting and audio
- Tablet computer: wireless, portable personal computer that uses a touch screen as an input device
- Portable talking speller and dictionary: handheld device in which you type a word and receive the correct spelling and pronunciation of the word, using a computerized voice.
- Speech recognition: a microphone that is hooked up to your computer and your words appear written on the computer screen when you talk into the device.
- Text-to-speech: software that allows you to hear text on a computer screen read aloud with a computerized voice.
- Word prediction: software that allows you to start typing a word and the program predicts the full word based on the first few letters of the word typed.
Benefits of Assistive Technology
Assistive technology can help you with tasks that may be challenging for you such as reading, writing, organizing, planning, listening, and studying. Some of the benefits of using assistive technology include being able to complete tasks independently, more efficiently, and more accurately.
So, how do you determine what types of technology are right for you? Make a list of academic skills that are difficult for you to do. Then talk with your VA speech language or occupational therapist or college disability support services coordinator about technology that might help you improve your performance on specific tasks. For example, maybe you can listen really well but you have difficulty understanding what you are reading. You, along with the person helping you with technology, might want to explore tools to help improve your reading comprehension such as books on CD or text-to-speech software.
Your VA therapist may be able to help you acquire the assistive technology that you need using VA resources. Some disability support services offices also have technology that is available on loan. If you are a client of the Department of Rehabilitative Services
or VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment
program, your vocational rehabilitation counselor may be able to purchase assistive technology for you if you need it to achieve your vocational goals. In addition, there are programs in the Commonwealth that can help you identify and acquire
affordable technology as well as organizations that offer low-interest loans
to purchase technology.