Empowered Learning

A blog dedicated to appreciating and applauding technology that supports students with learning difficulties and their teachers.

Lots of words surrounding the issue of disability, rights, school, education, children, technology etc.

Dates worth noting: Progression in ADL Technology and Disability Rights.

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An image of a phone and a pen, symbolising portable note taking

Portable Note Taking: bringing paper and pen to a whole new level

Today’s blog includes a Podcast discussing the topic: Portable Note Taking.
But fear not, if podcasts aren’t really you’re thing, there is a written version of the post below – just click see more! 

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(All the softwares discussed in the podcast are linked in the written version of the post below!) 

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An image of a wheelchair that could have sip-and-puff attached to it.

Sip-and-puff Systems: Applauding and appreciating mobility

Ultimately, this blog post is taking a different spin compared to others I have posted! I have previously focussed on learning disabilities such as, dyslexia and dyspraxia. However, from research I have conducted, sip-and-puff systems are absolutely incredible with the chances they can give children, students and anybody else effected by mobility issues. They allow users of the systems to be independent and have a sense of freedom, which is something that is so important for people struggling with mobility issues. I felt this blog post is extremely important as sip-and-puff systems deserve some appreciation!

What are sip-and-puff systems?

Sip-and-puff systems are for people that have a loss of mobility, it allows them to use the same devices as everyone else in a way that doesn’t require the use of their arms and hands. Sip-and-puff systems send signals to a device using air pressure by inhaling and exhaling on a straw, tube or wand.

Sip-and-puff systems can be used to power such devices as speech generating devices, computers, tablets, and mobile phones. This ultimately gives students, that do not have the same mobility as others, a better chance at focussing on education as they are still able to use the same technology as everyone else.

Sip-and-puff systems have been designed so that they can be personalised depending on what the user prefers. For example, based on their wheelchair, or other technology that may be set up around them, these systems will adapt to whatever situation the user needs.

There has been a second generation of this software, referred to as Breeze, which is specifically designed to allow users to access Apple products such as iPads, iPhones and iPod touches.

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Word Prediction Software: Simple and Spectacular

What is word prediction software?

‘Technology can support the basic skills of producing legible text with correct mechanics as well as the more complex cognitive processes of planning, drafting, and revising text’
– Graham, et al. 1998.

Word prediction software ranges from word abbreviators to the spell checkers built into the software you type in.

‘Word prediction was originally developed for individuals with physical disabilities to reduce the number of key strokes required to type words and sentences’
– MacArthur, 1996.

Word abbreviation software allows students to create, store and re-use abbreviations for words and phrases they use frequently. This ultimately decreases the amount of keystrokes your child will have to use, benefiting anyone that struggles with writing. This software will make the task of writing easier as the time spent worrying about the spelling of words has been removed, meaning they will not get discouraged by their writing taking longer than other students.

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an image of a book and headphones symbolising an audiobook

Audiobooks: The simple step into big achievements

What are audiobooks?

‘Approximately 80% of students with learning difficulties struggle with reading’
– Shaywitz, et al. 1990.

An audiobook, as I’m sure most of you are familiar with – even if you do not use them yourself – are voice recordings of a book that you can listen to, instead of reading. Audiobooks can be word-for-word versions, or even abridged depending on what you prefer, or what you wish to listen to, and can be used on any digital device.

‘The availability and quality of audiobooks has improved dramatically over the past decade’
– Johnson, 2003.

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text to speech logo in a green bubble: a speaker sign and a speech bubble.

Text-to-speech applications: Why your child should try them

What is text to speech?

Text-to-speech is an assistive technology that reads digital text aloud, giving support to anybody who needs it. Although this technology is most commonly associated with children with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, there are also many other people that find this technology extremely helpful, for example, people with visual impairment.

‘Speech synthesis enables students to hear what they have written and to read what others have written’
 – Charles MacArthur, 1996.

Text-to-speech is compatible with almost every digital device that exists – this means that it is 100% accessible for anybody that requires it, and it can be used whenever and wherever necessary!

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An image of sensory rooms

Open your senses to the power of Sensory Rooms.

What is a sensory room?

The notion of multi sensory rooms originated in The Netherlands during the late 1970s’
– Hulsegge and Verheul, 1986.

Sensory rooms are something that are definitely underappreciated, and should be more widely recommended to anybody, with or without learning difficulties, as a way to relax and unwind. I first encountered a sensory room in 2015, and I was completely taken aback by the effect that this room had on the students. They are one of the most amazing things I have ever encountered, and are completely hypnotising!

‘Sensory room’ is an umbrella term used to categorise a variety of therapeutic rooms specifically designed to promote positive change. There are multiple types of sensory rooms that serve different purposes, some being to create a safe space, provide interaction, and to promote self-care and resilience.

‘Use of the room is associated with fun and enjoyment’
 – Nick Bozic, 1997

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Welcome to Empowered Learning!

Empowered Learning has been created to applaud and appreciate the technology that exists for students with learning difficulties at a primary level of education. It also aims to discuss how these technological advancements have helped the profession of teaching and what an incredible impact is has had.

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Fonts and colours have been chosen specifically to be dyslexia-friendly.

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