My Vision For the Future of Assistive Technology in Education
Assistive technology is a broad term encompassing everything from learning management software to eye gaze systems. While the category covers a variety of items, they all have one thing in common. Assistive technology makes education and learning more accessible to students with physical or learning disabilities. The role these products have in leveling the playing field for disabled students can be the difference between students who get by and those who embrace lifelong learning.
My vision for the future of assistive technology in education will include the expansion of availability to disadvantaged students. Additionally, I believe that we are standing on the precipice to innovation for assistive technology. The coming years will see advancement in equipment for blind, deaf, and learning disabled students like never before.
The last few years have seen the invention of a braille-enabled smartphone for the blind and seizure warning belts for children who have epilepsy. Children with disabilities are already benefiting from the use of Learning Management Systems in schools, flipped teaching approaches and heightened awareness. However, I envision a future where disabled students are empowered to learn alongside their peers by technology.
As we venture into the world of AI in schools, the implications for disabled children are enormous. Children with learning disabilities, like dyslexia, need more time to process information. And, systems which allow students to learn and interact at their own pace will be invaluable for these children. Teachers already provide video lessons for students to watch from home. I believe these lessons will transform into an interactive experience through the use of personal artificial intelligence tutors, helping students with learning delays or autism absorb lessons at their own pace and with personalized electronic help.
Furthermore, I imagine advancements in braille technology for students. Currently, blind children are limited by technology and delays to learning are normal. However, with the invention of the braille-smartphone, I believe we aren’t far from instant translation systems for blind students. We may experience a braille tablet which wirelessly translates anything written on a connected electronic “blackboard.” Or, maybe we will find blind students guided by artificial intelligence assistants, similar to the current real-life person application of Be My Eyes.
My future vision includes improved assistance for hearing impaired students. While the prevalence of American Sign Language in schools has grown, over the years, I believe technology can help bridge remaining gaps. Students with hearing impairment are often supported by tools like FM systems. However, I envision technology going further for deaf and hearing-impaired students. Perhaps smart glasses which display audio content visually for the wearer, or an intuitive tablet system which allows users to lock onto different voices and amplify them into an earpiece or show a text transcript.
The sky’s the limit for assistive technology in the classroom. The last ten years have seen advancements in how we teach and interact with deaf, blind, and learning disabled students. However, I think it’s only the beginning. I believe that the development of educational AI will be successful in helping level the playing field for all students. And, I hope that education funding for disadvantaged students will prioritize assistive technology for all children who need it.
What type of assistive technology do you want to see in the next ten years? How has current technology helped your students? We want to hear your experiences.