Technology is everywhere these days. We are constantly syncing, posting, downloading, messaging, emailing and typing. As such, the term cut and paste no longer refers to the scissors and glue of yesteryear. Beyond their use for keeping in touch, technology can be used to assist children with special needs.
In this month’s blog, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on how technology can play an important part in education. Here are some of what I consider to be key benefits of using technology as an educational tool:
- Technology can prevent fatigue and delayed motor skills from negatively impacting on academic performance, leveling the playing field and eliminating the need for shortened assignments. It empowers those children with motor delays as well as those with organizational and processing problems. With some simple adaptations, technology can be used to complete classroom and homework assignments.
- Keyboarding and typing are practical alternatives to written communication. While writing is a very functional skill, keyboarding is quickly becoming just as important. Hence, both traditional and technology-based modes of communication should be learned and utilized to enable success in the classroom.
- Technology is typically portable, thereby, encouraging inclusion. In addition, it also results in decreased dependence on scribes or others for assistance, boosting independence.
- Not only can technology provide augmentative, expressive and written communication, online books offer many accessibility features for those with physical and vision impairments, as well as for those who struggle with reading.
As an occupational therapist (OT), I often encourage other OTs to redefine our role. We are not quite the “handwriting specialists” we are so often narrowly defined as being. Rather, we are “written communication specialists,” which involves so much more than traditional writing. Our role is comprehensive, encompassing the invention, support and equipment training necessary to transform children’s lives and increase their ability to communicate via traditional and technology-
based written communication.
Nicole Weckherlin, OTR/L