Digital Media advancements have been particularly beneficial to those with disabilities or learning difficulties. One of these technologies is Apple’s “iPad” which can aid those with additional needs through the use of interactive activities, touchscreen, audio and voice recorders and tools to help speech difficulties. This is mainly due to the extensive range of apps that are available.
A report (Rodriguez, 2013 p.245) showed that technology has helped those with disabilities as “(a) the technology is open-ended and can be individualized for each user; (b) due to their ubiquity, mobile devices will garner a minimum of negative peer attention; (c) many teachers, parents, and students already own mobile devices, minimizing the learning curve; and (d) the devices are easy to maintain across environments.” It could be said that iPad technology has played a part in the improvement of education to those with disabilities. This is mainly due to the variety of apps available that will cater to specific needs and specific difficulties. For example, a visual game could be created for those with hearing impairments or an app that says words out loud for those with speech difficulties to then repeat.
The report also focused on research that was carried out with 30 students that have language based difficulties. The report explained that “Students in the experimental group used the Language Builder, an app that focused on the skill of sentence formation, for 30 minutes, 4 days per week. Language skills measured were (a) expressive and receptive vocabulary and (b) sentence formation skills. Students who used the iPad application had greater gains in the area of sentence formation than those students who had teacher-led language instruction. The iPad application was more successful that traditional instruction at increasing the sentence formation skills of the participating students.” This reinforces the idea that iPad technology is a crucial learning material for those with learning difficulties as the interactive material allows the students to see it as a fun exercise and will maintain their attention, thus improving the results.
This is a heart-warming story (Venture Beat news, 2013) about a student at a Californian school who was affected by iPad technology. His teacher, Mr Virani explained “I had a student with Cerebral Palsy who only has proficient access to one finger. The iPad comes along and 35 minutes after opening it from the box, he wrote his name for the first time — it was the first word he ever wrote. I thought if we can do this in 35 minutes, what can we do in nine months? The possibilities are endless when we have the right tools.”
Rodriguez C, Strnadová I, Cumming T, (2013) Using iPads With Students With Disabilities: Lessons Learned From Students, Teachers and Parents. vol.49 pp.244-250