How EdTech Helps Language Learners with Exceptional Needs

young student with vision impairment playing with dandelion in street for How EdTech Helps Language Learners with Exceptional Needs by Suzanne Marie

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Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Discover the boundless potential of EdTech tools for language learners with exceptional needs. These versatile tools empower teachers to craft personalized learning experiences that cater to each student’s unique abilities, strengths, and challenges.

Dive into this enlightening article as we delve into how EdTech revolutionizes the educational journey for students with partial hearing loss.

Explore how these innovative tools enhance literacy skills, opening new horizons for students with exceptional needs.

Explore Assistive Technologies Supporting Language Learning

Assistive technologies are designed to modify and adjust content to suit a user’s needs best.

There are a variety of assistive technologies available. They range from software applications and hardware devices to services offered by professional interpreters and tutors with specialized expertise.

Assistive technology tools provide personalized instruction and endless practice opportunities across all areas of literacy, such as reading, writing, speaking, and understanding language.

These tools also facilitate communication between educators, students, therapists, family members, and other stakeholders who support the student’s growth.

Identify Effective Technology-Based Instructional Strategies

Teachers should tailor an effective technology-based instructional strategy for language learners with exceptional needs to match their needs and learning styles.

Identifying the right tools might involve trial and error since different students may respond differently to the same type of instruction. 

Some helpful strategies include: 

  • using electronic voice output systems to support linguistic awareness
  • text-to-speech software to increase word understanding
  • multimedia tools that allow students to create digital stories or presentations as part of their language development

Develop Appropriate Digital Accommodations for Students with Exceptional Needs

Digital accommodations are helpful for special education students, as they provide access to modified content and instruction tailored to their needs.

Accommodations should be developed in collaboration with the student and their teacher, with careful attention paid to the student’s learning style. 

Examples of appropriate digital accommodations could include:

  • Audio recordings of class lectures or assignments.
  • Providing text-to-speech support.
  • Alternative assessment methods such as dictation or scribing.

Evaluate the Impact of EdTech on Engagement and Learning Outcomes

Evaluating the impact of edtech on learning outcomes and engagement helps determine which digital accommodations are most useful for special education students.

For example, acknowledging their strengths and weaknesses could make a difference in how they approach and interact with technology-based instruction.

In addition, teachers and special education coordinators should collect data regularly to evaluate student goals and determine if adjustments would better support them.

This evaluation process is essential to ensure accommodations meet student needs.

Case Study Using EdTech

Allison is an eight-year-old third-grade student with hearing loss resulting in mild hearing deafness. 

Allison had early intervention medical assistance, which reduced the severity but she still retains permanent damage to her hearing. 

Allison’s speech and language skills are delayed. However, she does have assistance from an audiologist who provides support for her earring aids. 

Teaching Strategy 1: Provide Transcripts

Providing transcripts for students with partial hearing loss is a great teaching strategy.

What is it?

Basic transcripts are a text version of speech information needed to understand the content.

Descriptive transcripts include a text description of the visual information necessary to understand the content.

Teachers would use a basic transcript for our teaching strategy for Allison’s specific needs.

How To Use It

Technology for people with hearing loss is available in applications for both Apple and Android operating systems.

By providing Allison with a tablet in class, we can use an application (app) like Live Transcribe from Google.

Live Transcribe by Google

Live Transcribe uses Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technology and transcribes speech into text in real-time. ASR technology picks up through the tablet’s microphone and delivers it to the screen.

This app would be an appropriate tool for Allison to read or re-read her teacher’s instructions. Google hails the app as ‘convenient, especially if you are having a conversation with a person who does not know sign language’ (Manalo, 2018).

Including several features, Live Transcribe supports over seventy languages, dialects, and bilingual conversations. The app saves transcripts for three days.

‘Live Transcribe is in collaboration with Gallaudet University, the leading deaf and hearing impairment university in the United States’ (2018).

It would be helpful for Allison as it is used in higher education and is a credible source. 

Why would this strategy benefit Allison?

Language characteristics of students with hearing loss show’ significant delay as in speech sounds, vocabulary, and language patterns’ (Cawthorn, 2001).

In Allison’s case, she had early interventions, and her hearing loss was diagnosed as mild to moderate. Therefore, she has demonstrated communication skills that ‘match those of her hearing peers’ (p. 213).

Students rely more on nonverbal techniques with hearing loss than would be expected in children with normal hearing’ (p. 213). Providing transcripts allows Allison to read or re-read the lessons’ instructions and information.

Providing nonverbal classroom communication methods, like transcripts, offers Allison an ‘important starting place for developing (her) verbal language skills’ (p. 213). By reading the transcripts from the lessons, Allison is more equipped to develop vocabulary and language patterns.

This teaching strategy helps because students with hearing loss show a delay in language structure, and ‘shorter sentences tend to be less syntactically complex than the longer sentences’ (p. 218).

Given this, with Allison reading the transcripts, she can read through the complexity of spoken sentences to manage information. 

Teaching Strategy 2: Visual Aids and Techniques

Using visual aids and specific techniques for students with partial hearing loss helps to illustrate the materials presented in lessons.

What is it? 

Visual techniques include a wide range of tools, including pictures, puppets, drawings, wall charts, photographs, and flashcards.

Learners can connect materials presented meaningfully and use the visuals in a foreign language. Thus, audiovisual materials are suitable for learners with partial hearing loss (Gülengül Birinci, F., & Sariçoban, A, 2021).

How To Use It

Connecting visuals to vocabulary words creates accurate understanding for visual learners(p. 15).

Pairing visual aids with vocabulary words as much as possible by using flashcards, charts, graphs, and posters helps students learn vocabulary.

Difficulties may arise when presenting abstract ideas, but visuals amplify nouns effectively.

Why would this strategy benefit Allison?

With the ease of technology and its benefits in the classroom, visuals are straightforward to get and use.

Visual aids are a helpful teaching strategy, especially when teachers understand their student’s learning styles. Allison connects to her lessons through visuals because visual learning is her most dominant learning style.

Using visuals, we provide strong vocabulary teaching and learning opportunities for students with hearing loss.  

Culturally Inclusive Classroom

The case study did not identify Allison as an English language learner (ELL).

However, with the technology of her tablet and the Live Transcribe app, Allison and her teacher could translate texts into her mother-tongue language.

Summary

EdTech tools provide helpful teaching strategies for students with partial hearing loss or other exceptional needs.

Educators create unique learning experiences tailored to every student’s abilities, strengths, and challenges by including the latest technologies.

Edtech in the classroom makes a meaningful difference for students with partial hearing loss by helping them enhance their literacy skills and learning success.

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time,

Suzanne

Related Topics

Further Reading

Supporting Emergent Bilinguals with Individualized Education Plans

Evaluating English Learners for Special Education

Ways to Better Serve Often Misunderstood English Language Learners with Disabilities

Students in Special Education- English Language Learners

Challenges in Special Education Identification for English Language Learners

Special Education Assessment

References

Gülengül Birinci, F., & Sariçoban, A. (2021). The effectiveness of visual materials in teaching vocabulary to deaf students of EFL. Journal of Language and Linguistic Studies17(1), 628–645. https://doi.org/10.52462/jlls.43

‌ Jenkinson, P. (2017, May 25). Five tips for teachers of students with hearing impairment. Media Access Australia. https://mediaaccess.org.au/latest_news/education/five-tips-for-teachers-of-students-with-hearing-impairment

(2021). Speechbuddy.com. https://www.speechbuddy.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/child-headphones.jpg

The 5 Best Apps for Transcribing Lectures & Converting Speech to Text on iPhone or Android. (n.d.). Gadget Hacks. https://smartphones.gadgethacks.com/how-to/5-best-apps-for-transcribing-lectures-converting-speech-text-iphone-android-0186399/

‌ w3c_wai. (n.d.). Transcripts. Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). https://www.w3.org/WAI/media/av/transcripts/


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