ASSIGNMENT 13: Bridging the App - Technology helping kids with disabilities

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ALTOONA, Wis (WEAU)--In the hands of most kids, high tech gadgets are little more than plug-in toys but for some students dealing with a disability iPads and iPod Touches are game changers.

"In my 28 years of being a Speech and Language Pathologist there's just been a huge change in kids’ ability and access to communicate on so many different levels,” said Tracy Boyd

Altoona Middle School 5th grader Logan Riechers is using an i Pad as personal communication device.

Logan has Down Syndrome and Autism and while he can speak Logan has trouble verbalizing needs and wants.

Logan is using Proloquo2Go. The app is personalized for Logan to help him communicate daily tasks and activities.
Speech and Language Pathologist, Tracy Boyd says iPad give students, like Logan, another way to express themselves and learn.

"I’ve noticed that it increases their communication. Research shows that assistive technoloy really bridges the gap,” said Boyd.

The app only costs about $200 plus the cost of the iPad.
So it's a much cheaper and sleeker option to other assistive technology systems that made students stand out and cost thousands of dollars.

"It's portable, its user friendly, and I think there is a definite cool factor," said Boyd.

The technology is helping take away the learning barrier that once separated kids dealing with a disability from their peers.

"There is stigma that comes with having to be pulled out of class and apart from their peers," said Karsten Powell, Special Education Teacher with Altoona High School.

But now the apps are helping more kids stay in class.

One app Altoona High School is using is called 'Read2go'

“The big thing is that they can't decode grade level text and read it properly and it limits their ability to comprehend. So this reads it out loud to them and usually their auditory comprehension is much higher,” said Powell.

14 year old Kora Smith uses the app to help her read novels in her 9th grade English class.

"If I feel good about my school work I work harder,” said Smith.

"It gives kids confidence because they know that they can do something that everybody else did," said Powell.

Another app will read a paragraph the student has written back to them to help catch misspelled words or broken sentences.

9th grader Brady Linderman, who has Asperger’s, says he used to get nervous to let other kids read his papers in class.

Brady say the technology has shown him can do anything he puts his mind too.

"I can actually get in to a college and achieve my goals that I’ve always wanted to achieve," said Linderman

"Seeing them fit in and be able to keep up with their peers that's huge," said Powell.

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