Unit 5: Use of technology in Management of High Support Needs

5.1.  Definition, use and optimum support in management programme through technology.

5.2.  Assistive technology for communication- use of AAC and other devices

5.3.  Assistive technology for recognition of emotions and improvement of social and cognitive skills

5.4.  Application of Technology in Lesson Planning, report writing and Evaluation

5.5.  Advantages and disadvantages of Assistive technology













5.1         Definition, use and optimum support in management programme through technology.


Rehabilitative technology can help restore or improve function in people who have developed a disability due to disease, injury, or aging. Appropriate assistive technology often helps people with disabilities compensate, at least in part, for a limitation.

For example, assistive technology enables students with disabilities to compensate for certain impairments. This specialized technology promotes independence and decreases the need for other support.1

Rehabilitative and assistive technology can enable individuals to:

Assistive technology also benefits employers, teachers, family members, and everyone who interacts with people who use the technology.

As assistive technologies become more commonplace, people without disabilities are benefiting from them. For example, people for whom English is a second language are taking advantage of screen readers. Older individuals are using screen enlargers and magnifiers.

The person with a disability, along with his or her caregivers and a team of professionals and consultants, usually decide which type of rehabilitative or assistive technology would be most helpful. The team is trained to match particular technologies to specific needs to help the person function better or more independently. The team may include family doctors, regular and special education teachers, speech-language pathologists, rehabilitation engineers, occupational therapists, and other specialists, including representatives from companies that manufacture assistive technology.


ICTs stands for information and communication technologies and are defined, for the purposes of this primer, as a ’diverse set of technological tools and resources used to communicate and to create, disseminate, store and manage information.
ICT is considered to be dynamic in nature, which in turn makes vital changes in the society. ICT has influenced all aspects of life. It provides various opportunities in adapting teaching, learning and managing the individual needs of both teacher and students. It helps in reducing the challenges being faced by the educational system of India. These technologies are different because of their fast evolution and revolution. The beginning of computer and now ICT has showcased various impacts on learning. In the current age of information, educational institutions are expected to play a crucial role for learning environment and knowledge generation and ICT helps in facilitating this task. It becomes one of the most effective factors in the school improvement.

        According to UNESCO, "ICT is a scientific, technological and engineering discipline and management technique used in handling information and association with social, economic and cultural matters."
Information Technology can provide a medium for teaching and learning and contribute flexibility to course provision.

The valid uses of information Communication Technologies are:

 1. Distance learning via electronic networks.
 2. Open learning through students-controlled learning pathways.
 3. The process of changing teaching and learning styles by using a narrow range of Information Technology based facilities.

Examples of technology based instruction





Electronic books, Book adapted for page turning, Single word scanners, Predictable texts, Tabs, Talking electronic devices/software, Speech Software

For students having difficulty in reading and understanding written text and in paying attention to the reading assigned.


Pen/Pencil grips, Templates, Word processors, Word card/book/wall, software, Spelling/Grammar checker, Adapted papers

For students having problem in writing or composition


Calculators, Talking Clocks, Enlarged Worksheets, Voice Output Measuring Devices, Scientific Calculators

For students having computational problems and confusions, and finding it difficult to perform well in Math lessons


Eye glasses, Magnifier, Screen Magnification, Screen Reader, Braille Large Print Books, CCTV, Audio Lesson Tapes

For students who have difficulty in seeing or lack complete vision


Hearing Aids, Pen and paper, Signaling Devices, Closed Captioning

For students who have difficulty in hearing or are absolute hearing impaired

Computer Access

Word prediction, Alternative Keyboards, Pointing Option, Switches, Voice recognition software

For students finding it difficult to access the computer in its standard form and have difficulty in performing academic tasks

Augmentative/Alternative communication

Communication Board, Device with speech synthesis for typing, Eye gaze board/ frame, Voice output device

For students having problems in comprehension of language, and lacking the ability to express it, or are unclear in speech and demonstrate delayed expressive language

Learning disability and ADHD

Use of applications/devices depending upon the degree of disability/difficulty, in the area of reading and writing (Dyslexia), handeye coordination, written expression and composition (Dysgraphia), difficulty in fine motor skills, Coordination (Dyspraxia), Math (Dyscalculia) and Attention (ADHD) like Talking electronic devices, Calculators, Electric Organizers, Highlighters, Pencil Grips, Post-its, Computers, Spelling/Grammar Checker, Electronic Organizers, Recorded materials, Hand held Scanners, Print or picture schedule, Electronic Diaries etc.

For students having problem in language development, reading and writing (Dyslexia), hand-eye coordination, written expression and composition (Dysgraphia), difficulty in fine motor skills, Coordination (Dyspraxia), Math (Dyscalculia), and ADHD






5.2         Assistive technology for communication- use of AAC and other devices


The term Assistive Technology is generic term used to describe assistive, adaptive and rehabilitative devices for people with varying degrees of disability. They are aimed at assisting or expanding human function or capabilities. Assistive Technologies can be complex and range from sophisticated computerized communication systems and software programs to a simple handle on a telephone.  Recent studies show that up to 1% of the world population suffers a degree of speech, language or communication need.  There are communication devices, also called Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices, that are equipment people use to communicate without using verbal speech. The lives of people with communication difficulties can greatly be boosted by the Augmentative and Alternative Communication ( AAC) systems by promoting independence, social relationships and education.  According to WHO, more than 1 billion people globally need 1 or more assistive products but only 1 in 10 people in need have access to assistive products.

·      Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Devices help people with communication disorders to express themselves. These devices can range from a simple picture board to a computer program that synthesizes speech from text. The ACC can either be Low-tech AAC or High-tech. is any type of aid that does not require batteries or electricity. They may include simple pen and paper to write messages on, pictures boards, that can be carried to aid communication by pointing on to images, words, pictures, drawings, or letters. High-tech AAC - Any aid that requires electricity or batteries. They might include specialized devices, software, smartphone applications, electronic communication boards, and keyboards. Most of high -tech AAC devices are Speech Generating Devices and can produce digitized speech when the user either types a message or presses on images, words, or letters.

·      Alerting Devices connect to a doorbell, telephone, or alarm that emits a loud sound or blinking light to let someone with hearing loss know that an event is taking place. Several types of ALDs are available to improve sound transmission for people with hearing loss and are some are designed for large facilities such as classrooms, theaters, places of worship, and airports, while others are intended for personal use in small settings and for one-on-one conversations. All can be used with or without hearing aids or a cochlear implant. ALD systems for large facilities include hearing loop systems, frequency-modulated (FM) systems, and infrared systems.

·      Infrared Systems use infrared light to transmit sound. A transmitter converts sound into a light signal and beams it to a receiver that is worn by a listener. The receiver decodes the infrared signal back to sound. 

·      Educational Software to assist people with reading, learning and comprehension.

·      Memory Aids to help learn and remember a particular information.

·      Speech-generating Device also known also as voice output communication aids to supplement or replace speech or writing in people with severe speech impairments.

·      Unaided Communication Systems use body language to communicate. They include gestures, body language, and/or sign language.

·      Electronic Fluency Devices help improve people with stutters to become more fluent. They do this by playing the sound of the user's own voice back into their ear, slightly altered. 

There are two main types of Electronic Fluency Devices :

·       Delayed Auditory Feedback (DAF)- Delayed Auditory Feedback devices play the user's voice back delayed by a fraction of a second. DAF devices may resemble hearing aids or headphones with a microphone. There are also apps that can use DAF on phone calls.

·       Frequency Altered Feedback (FAF)- Frequency Altered Feedback devices are similar to DAF but rather than delaying the user hearing their own voice, they change the pitch at which the user hears their own voice.



5.3         Assistive technology for recognition of emotions and improvement of social and cognitive skills



Assistive Technology (AT) is a means of product system that is used to increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities of individuals and disabilities. AT promotes greater independence by enabling disabled people to perform task that they were formerly unable to accomplish, by providing enhancements to or changed methods of interacting with the technology needed to accomplish such tasks. Children with autism spectrum disordered (ASD) have difficulty recognising emotions in themselves and others. 

Students who have difficulty reading or processing text similarly benefit from visual reinforcement for a reading passage. Supplementing a reading passage with images provides valuable context that can scaffold the learner’s understanding. Before sharing a reading selection with students, the teacher can identify the elements of the passage that lend themselves to visual enhancement and create a list of images to enhance comprehension. Image databases like Flicker and the Wikimedia Commons provide easy, searchable access to countless images, which can be displayed in slideshow format as a pre-reading strategy for the entire class. Alternately, images can be inserted into a multimedia presentation to be viewed individually alongside a text while the student reads. If the text is available electronically, it may be possible to insert both the text and the associated image in the presentation.

Autism spectrum conditions (ASC) are characterised by difficulties in social communication alongside unusually restrictive, repetitive behaviours and interests. A key difficulty experienced by individuals with ASC, and part of current diagnostic criteria, is interpreting others’ emotions and responding appropriately. Indeed, originally described ASC as a difficulty with “affective contact”. Hence, a number of intervention programs aiming to improve social and communication skills in ASC, have focused on improving ability to interpret others’ emotions.

Improving ability to interpret emotions in realistic social situations in people with ASC is challenging, because the intervention needs to generalize to a variety of real life social situations. New interactive technologies provide a very promising form of intervention which could improve emotion processing in real life situations for a number of reasons. First, individuals with ASC prefer interventions which involve interacting with technology rather than face-to-face or group based work, that could cause anxiety. Use of a computer to display emotions, instead of a face to face encounter, could therefore encourage attention to important social cues. Hence, use of technology as an intervention tool in people with ASC is particularly appealing and accessible for this clinical group. Second, interactive technologies enable people with ASC to actively experiment in safe, controlled and predictable environments repeatedly. The difficulty levels of the intervention, gradually getting more complex, can be slowly widened, and even controlled by the participant. This would provide adults with ASC a series of predictable, controllable and therefore low anxiety learning opportunities, which would not otherwise be available to these individuals in the real world. This also enables a systematic approach to learning, which is particularly in tune with the cognitive style in ASC.

AT for Social Skills

People with autism are very different from one another, but all share difficulties with social skills and social communication. For some, the challenges are relatively subtle; for others, even basic human interaction can be a struggle. Fortunately, there is a vast range of assistive technologies to help with these issues—some of which are very high tech.


At the basic, low-tech level, an industry has arisen around teaching children with autism (and adults with more severe challenges) to prepare for and manage new or complex social situations. Among the most popular are:


Mid-level technology for social skills focuses largely on video modeling and apps (though many video games intended for preschoolers focus on social-emotional concepts).

Video modeling is a tried and true technique for teaching social skills, and companies like Model Me Kids are dedicated to creating videos to teach everything from polite greetings to joining a conversation to asking someone out on a date.

Apps are more interactive and can allow learners to select areas of interest and actually practice their skills and receive feedback. The Social Express is a social skills tool for middle school learners with autism and related disorders.


Social skills teaching at the high end is truly techie—and can be extremely expensive. That's because the goal is to create interactive artificial intelligence and robots that can literally take the place of human beings.

These tools are being used to help both children and adults build social skills in a risk-free, highly-interactive, and very intriguing way—and preliminary research is encouraging.4 A few of the more advanced projects along these lines include:


A series of conditions such as stroke, dyslexia, Alzheimer’s Disease, Multiple sclerosis, traumatic  brain injury can impair an individual's cognition, which can lead to the requirement of assistive technology (AT). Due to this, AT has been widely employed in rehabilitation for these conditions to compensate for cognitive impairments. Broadly, cognitive aids increase the functional independence of individuals with deficits in cognitive processing by helping to support the completion of functional activities in the individual's natural environment.  Also, cognition products help to reduce caregiver burden through enhancing the ability of the individual to perform more independent functions. Additionally, cognition products aid the reduction of the digital lapse that exists for individuals with cognitive impairments by increasing their adaptation and use of the vast benefits provided by technology.

Cognition products used as assistive technology are generally referred to as "assistive technology for cognition (ATC), cognitive orthoses, and cognitive prosthetics.

Different devices help enhance cognitive functions based on individual need. Some of these products are given below.

Cueing/Memory Aids

These products aid individuals with cognitive limitations achieve essential tasks such as recalling information, appointments or steps to accomplish activities.

Examples include watches that vibrate to remind a user about a task, audio note-takers, etc.

Educational Software

They are designed to assist individuals with cognitive limitations to receive digital information in different formats such as multisensory outputs, dictionaries for definitions and mind mapping.

Speech Recognition

This helps individuals in their day-to-day computer use tasks. It can be used for typing, browsing, sending emails and messages, and any job that can be achieved by using a computer keyboard and mouse.

Voice Recorders

They use the microphone to record audio information and store it in digital formats. They then can sort the audio files, arrange them in folders and download the information on a computer.

Word Prediction Software

This device assists individuals by allowing the recall of the required words, improving grammar and sentence structure based on the contextual meaning of the sentence.

Personal Digital Assistant

A task management tool that assists in performing everyday tasks. It can help with keeping up with appointments, home chores, assignments and much more.

The importance of assistive technology for cognition are undoubtedly immersing. Yet, further studies that will determine their efficacy and utilization across different populations should be carried out. Also, healthcare professionals involved in rehabilitation should be well conversant in their use and application to ensure efficient prescription and use of these devices for patients who would benefit from their use.



5.4         Application of Technology in Lesson Planning, report writing and Evaluation



Technology integration is an important way to create meaningful learning experiences. Lesson planning for teachers can be overwhelming when incorporating the use of computers in activities. In this article, the process for integrating technology is outlined in four easy steps.

Technology Integration Lesson Planning Process

When designing computer-based activities, give consideration to how technology can be used to acquire, organize, demonstrate, and communicate information. The planning process for technology integration is similar to planning a curriculum unit. The main differences are HOW the students acquire the knowledge and skills, HOW they demonstrate and apply the knowledge and skills, and HOW learning will be assessed or evaluated. These differences have a major influence on the structure of a lesson plan as they incorporate the use of the computer.

In addition to the skills and knowledge that must be taught as part of the curriculum, consideration must also be given to the technology skills students need to learn. Often teachers assume that the students will figure it out on their own. However, this can waste instructional time. It is a good idea to plan ahead, so that the time in the computer lab is well spent.

Step 1: Examine Curriculum Documents

§  select the topic

§  identify learning objectives within a subject

Step  2: Determine Knowledge and Skills

§  determine students’ background  knowledge and existing technology skills

§  decide how students will acquire new  knowledge and skills

§  gather resources required to achieve instructional  goals

Step  3: Select a Technology Product to Apply  Learning

§  choose a technology-based product for  students to create

§  outline the content it will contain

§  select the software program(s) needed

§  list the technology skills required to complete the task

Step  4: Select a Method of Assessment and Criteria for Evaluation

§  determine the method of assessment

§  set  the criteria to evaluate the technology product with a focus upon content,
quality of information, layout and design, and technology skills demonstrated

Technology can help teachers track and assess their students' -- as well as their own -- performance in the classroom. It can also be used to facilitate communication between students and teachers and to create digital records of student growth and development that can easily be passed along from grade to grade.

Teachers can use technology to make their own work more productive -- teachers can use spreadsheets to track student work and also track their teaching plans. If a group of students is performing poorly in a particular area, this kind of record keeping can highlight areas that the teacher needs to focus on in their own teaching.

These tools can also help administrators assess and improve teacher performance.

Technology can also be used in the production of portfolios. There are now available a whole new range of devices that students can use in producing materials for evaluation. Students can use scanners, digital photographs, and computer-generated movies as part of a multi-media portfolio. Speeches, musical performances, and compositions can also be included in appropriate file formats, allowing for the documentation of athletic, dramatic, musical, and other performance-based activities. One of the advantages of a digital, multi-media portfolio is that it can be made available to a variety of communities. It can be designed so it can be reviewed by the student and their teacher, or by their classmates. It can even be placed on the Web, where students work can be made public. This becomes a wonderful opportunity for parents to see and react to their children's classroom work. One major advantage to digital technology is that the work can become part of a larger, broader conversation. Feedback can then be received from an expanding universe of communities.

Continual feedback between teachers and students generates a way of teaching that is very different from the traditional approach. It becomes more like sailing a ship, with the teacher constantly adjusting course. The goal is set, but the actual path responds to the needs of the individual students. That is a model for what assessment looks like when it occurs continuously during instruction.

Technology is just a new set of tools, which are useful only if they add value to the learning experience.



5.5         Advantages and disadvantages of Assistive technology


Pros of assistive technologies 


·      Students are able to work at their own pace.

·      Students are able to accomplish more individually.

·      Students are included into the regular classroom.
    By being included in the regular classroom it not only benefits the student with the disability, but 
    also the other students and even the teacher.

·      Students are able to achieve academic standards.

·      Students are given the opportunity to socialize with more students.

·      Technology can help students improve organizational skills and also writing skills.

·      Technology helps students reach a higher level of education.


Cons of assistive technologies

·      Majority of assistive technologies are very costly. Many technologies cost thousands of dollars and many school districts do not have the funds to provide these technologies.

·      To be able to use the technologies properly, training has to take place which is very time consuming.

·      Technology can never be fully relied on. As we all know technology always has its flaws, and if a students assistive device is not working properly, the student may not be able to complete his or her tasks.

·      By having many different assistive technologies, some students may abuse the use of technology by using technologies they do not necessarily need.