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Organizational Tools for People with Learning Disabilities

In some cases, the primary need that people with learning disabilities have is assistance with organization. This may affect organizing thoughts, tasks, or both. This article covers mind-mapping software, which helps with brainstorming and thought grouping, and calendaring software, which helps with time management.

Mind Mapping Software

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Notetaking Tools for People with Learning Disabilities

An important function of accessing information in most educational and work settings is notetaking -- extracting the most important material and using it for studying, supporting assertions in new writings, or transmitting to colleagues. Assistive technology is now available to help facilitate notetaking with either text or audio materials. This article summarizes these current technologies.

Notetaking with Written Materials

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Reading Tools for People with Learning Disabilities

Some people with learning disabilities experience problems with reading, for a variety of reasons. Solutions may involve modifying the font size, typeface, or color contrast, multimodal presentation of text, availability of easy-to-use dictionaries, and masking text that isn't being read.

This article covers some of the mainstream and AT solutions to these writing problems.

Mainstream Options

Office-type programs have options for making the text larger and therefore more legible to some people with learning disabilities. They also have options for changing typeface, type color, and background color, any or all of which may be useful.

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Assistive Technology Software and People with Learning Disabilities

The term "learning disability" is usually defined as involving difficulties with reading, writing, math, memory, or other cognitive functions among people with average or above-average intelligence. Because there is such a wide variation among individual needs and preferences, people with learning disabilities are often best served by software with a variety of customizable features. These features may also be of use to individuals with more temporary needs, such as beginning readers and ESL students. This article talks about some of these tools and the needs they address.

Assistive Technology Strategies for Reading

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Free AAC Software for iPhone/iPodTouch/ iPad Devices

Many free alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) apps are available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. This article summarizes the capabilities of the most useful of these apps as well as providing links to the products' iTunes pages.

For an introduction to AAC, please see the articles on Alternative and Augmentative Communication--What Is It? and Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) -- What are the options?

Introduction

One benefit of using free apps is that they can be used to explore whether AAC is beneficial to an individual, and what type of AAC is beneficial, without requiring a financial commitment beyond the necessary hardware. They also tend to have simple designs so that they are very intuitive and can be used with little or no training or configuration.

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Cognitive Training Software

Cognitive training can be used to address behavior issues in children, memory loss in elders, and other cognitive skills. This article lists some software that's currently available and provides suggestions for what to look for when selecting cognitive training software.

Cognitive Training Software for Basic Skills

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Assistive Technology for Safety and Security

There are three types of products related to safety and security that may be of interest to people with disabilities:

  • Products that provide redundant alerts for people who are deaf or hard of hearing
  • Products that allow people with various disabilities to signal for help
  • Products that provide assistance to people with cognitive disabilities

This article covers all three.

Redundant Alarms

Most alarm systems use a loud sound. People with hearing loss need a redundant signaling method that uses lights, vibration, or both, or may connect to a lamp that flashes when activated. These features are available on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, burglar alarms, and baby monitors; many can be found in home improvement stores or big box retailers.

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Assistive Technology for People with Visual Disabilities

Tools that provide access to people who are blind or have low vision are available to help with a variety of tasks, including telephone use, cooking, self-care, and even carpentry. These tools usually provide output in at least one of three ways: audio, magnification, or braille.

Note: For information on computer access, see our articles on magnification, refreshable braille, and screen readers. For information on magnifying printed text, see our article on CCTVs.

Telephone Access

Large button telephones can make dialing easier for people with low vision. They may have additional features, such as audio amplification.

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Accessibility Considerations and Library Software

Software designed primarily for use by libraries may or may not be accessible or compatible with assistive technologies. This article covers three types of library software:

  • Information resources that provide information or point to information, such as databases
  • Administrative software that interfaces between users and applications and controls computer usage
  • Security systems that prevent malicious usage of software and reset system/programs to their defaults

Potential Accessibility Issues

Accessibility problems with library software usually occur for one of three reasons:

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Developing Alternative/Augmentative Communication Layouts

Alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) require customization so that the device is appropriate to each user's capabilities and needs. This article covers the steps to take so that there is a good fit between the strategy and the user.

Establish what the user wants to communicate

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