Assistive technology applications for students with reading difficulties: special education teacher’s experiences and perceptions
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2019
Reading and writing applications (with text-to-speech, TTS and speech-to-text, STT functions), used as assistive technology (AT) for students with reading difficulties are increasingly used in education, however, research has not sufficiently enough evaluated its potential. The purpose of this study was to explore how assistive reading and writing applications were perceived to function with regard to students’ possibilities to assimilate (i.e., “read”) and communicate (i.e., “write”) text. Methods: Following a six-week app intervention, this follow-up survey contained 54 special education teachers’ perceptions of how the use of apps impacted student motivation, learning, and its usability in special education. A total of 59 students with reading difficulties from Grade 4, Grade 8 and from high school, were assessed. Analyses included quantitative and qualitative analyses of teachers’ responses and written material. Results: The results showed individual differences in how teachers perceived app usage for text-interaction purposes, including how app usage affected student motivation and autonomy for text-based learning. Eighty-two per cent of the younger and forty-seven per cent of older students continued to use the technology after the intervention, but in various degrees. Conclusions: Based on these findings, students with reading difficulties seem to be able to use AT in order to assimilate text (i.e., to read) and to communicate text (i.e., to write), and, thus, AT has the potential to promote participation in regular education. Future research should focus on how to customize assistive technology support in order to better utilize the potential.Implication for rehabilitation This study found that students with reading difficulties could use reading and writing apps (with text-to-speech, TTS and speech-to-text, STT) in portable tables to be able to gain access to, and to produce text in an applied school setting. To use TTS and STT as assistive technology efficiently may require relative extensive support and training, but even with this support, not all students in this study benefited from the potential use of the technology, as the processes of being able to gain access to and to produce text with assistive technology seem to be a difficult process for some of the students. It is proposed that in order to enable all students with reading difficulties possibilities to use assistive technology efficiently, its uses need to be customized even further than was done in this extensive intervention.