In the digital age, electronics no longer provide only classroom distractions, but also fantastic educational tools. Perhaps this holds truest within the special education realm. Equipping your child or student with the right iPad and iPhone apps can enhance his or her learning process. Determining the correct app might seem overwhelming, but fear not! Below are several popular and practical apps to consider.
Speak It!: A text-to-speech app, Speak It! can help your learner read or speak. Simply copy and paste selected text and Speak It! reads the words out loud. The app highlights each spoken word so that kids can more easily follow along with the text. This $1.99 app gives a non-verbal child a voice so that he or she can interact with classmates. Just type what you want to say and Speak It! does the rest. The ability to save countless phrases adds convenience by eliminating the need to type the same phrases over and over again.
Read2Go: Read2Go corresponds with Bookshare, a digital library that makes books available to students with reading-related disabilities such as dyslexia and vision issues. The app costs $19.99 but allows you to access Bookshare’s expansive library featuring over 170,000 books via your iPad or iPhone. While Read2Go requires a Bookshare membership, an award from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs offers free memberships to schools and students who meet certain qualifications.
Dragon Dictation: Students who have difficulty writing due to disabilities can benefit from the free Dragon Dictation app. This voice recognition technology app enables a student’s iPad or iPhone to capture and document what the child says. Users rave about the app’s accuracy.
Notability: People learn differently and the note-taking app Notability embraces this notion. Kathleen H. McClaskey, a digital learning consultant and reoccurring guest on the special education-focused The Inclusive Class Podcast, noted during her September 14th 2012 appearance on this program that Notability works especially well with visual learners. Additionally, those who excel through listening will certainly find the $1.99 app’s audio recording component useful. Given Notability’s versatility and low price, it’s no surprise that Apple named the app 2012’s bestselling note taker.
Talking Calculator: If a visual disability makes using a calculator difficult for your child or student, the Talking Calculator app could become your ideal solution. Talking Calculator features large colorful buttons, creating an easy-to-use interface. Plus, as the app’s name suggests, the calculator talks. Put your finger on the screen and Talking Calculator tells you what button your finger hovers over. Perform a calculation and the calculator vocalizes the answer. At $1.99, Talking Calculator can change math from a dreaded subject into a fun and enjoyable experience.
Virtual Manipulatives!: Another math-related app, Virtual Manipulatives! uses visuals to effectively teach fractions, decimals and percentages. Virtual Manipulatives! ranks among the top 50 free educational apps and received honors as an Apple staff favorite.
Draw Free for iPad: When a school project entails an artistic element, consider Draw Free for iPad. General education teacher and Learn It In Five website creator Mark Barnes specifically notes that the Draw Free for iPad works well for students with fine motor skills issues. Barnes has personally seen students with disabilities succeed inside his mainstream classroom using this free app.