Special Education

Special Ed. Apps

By Katie Ash — October 17, 2011 3 min read
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Tablet computers, and the iPad in particular, are making an impact on special education—thanks to their large display (which can accommodate students with poor fine-motor skills as well as students with visual impairments) and their portability.

The iPad, for example, can store and run hundreds of apps, or programs, that may help students with disabilities perform various tasks, such as communicate with others, brush up on math skills, read text aloud, and transcribe sentences. By downloading apps with various functions, the slim tablet can take the place of a multitude of bulkier, single-function assistive technologies.

Below are descriptions of some of those apps available for students with disabilities. This sampling represents only a small percentage of the hundreds of apps created for the iPad and other Apple Inc. devices, more of which can be found in the special-education section of Apple’s App Store.

Proloquo2Go
Created by: AssistiveWare
Cost: $190
For: iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch

See Also

For more on how iPad applications are used in special education instruction, see “iPads Become Learning Tools for Students With Disabilities,” Oct. 19, 2011.

This text-to-speech app helps students who may have difficulty speaking. With a loaded library of more than 8,000 symbols and an expansive vocabulary, students can “say” anything either by typing in messages for the app to read, selecting preloaded phrases and words from the app’s library, or accessing recently stored messages for commonly used phrases. Students can also change the sound of the voice that reads the text, as well as the size of the font on the app.

Math Ninja
Created by: RazeWare LLC
Cost: $2 and free
For: iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch

This game-based app charges Haruku, the math ninja, with protecting his treehouse from his archrival Tomato-San and his robotic army. Haruku must solve math problems correctly to earn better weapons, such as ninja stars and fire magic, to fend off his attackers. The app covers addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Users can customize the difficulty of the game so that students at different grade levels can benefit from it.

Dragon Dictation
Created by: Nuance Communications
Cost: Free
For: iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch

This voice-recognition app taps into Dragon NaturallySpeaking software to convert the user’s speech into text. The app can be linked with social-networking profiles as well as blogs to quickly create posts;it can also be used to dictate emails, papers, or any other text the user would like to produce. It is simple to use the app—just press the red button to record and press it again to stop recording. When users touch a word they would like to edit, a drop-down menu of alternate suggestions pops up, or they can record a new phrase to replace the text.

Amplify’d
Created by: Jooniti
Cost: $1
For: iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch

This simple app helps turn up the volume, wherever you are. Just plug in a pair of headphones, launch the app, and use it to adjust the volume levels of what you are hearing in real time. This app, with customizable frequencies and volume boosts, is particularly helpful for students with hearing disabilities.

Scene Speak
Created by: Good Karma Applications Inc.
Cost: $10
For: iPad

Created for students with autism, aphasia, apraxia, and other conditions, Scene Speak aims to help them better communicate with those around them. Users can upload pictures, or use the preloaded graphics, then add in “sound areas” on the screen, so that when they touch that part of the screen, the iPad will play a preloaded message, phrase, or word. For instance, students could upload a picture of their classroom and create a sound area on the blackboard that would ask what the day’s assignments are. The scenes are then grouped into “books,” so students can keep track of their scenes by a specific theme or area of interest. Students can record their own voices in the sound areas or use a text-to-speech feature. The app comes preloaded with several scenes, such as a kitchen, a bedroom, a living room, a bathroom, and a doctor’s office.

A version of this article appeared in the October 19, 2011 edition of Digital Directions as Special Ed. Apps

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