Assistive Technology (AT) in the education space can sometimes get a raw deal. It usually gets singled out as something that only students with special needs require. However, what we’ve learned from Universal Design for Learning is that any student can benefit from AT tools – as it gives them multiple means of representation, expression and engagement that they can choose from to support their unique learning style.
What’s even better is, if the AT is used widely across the student body as a general educational tool for collaboration, expression and productivity, then there is likely to be less stigma attached to an individual student needing that extra bit of support. What’s more, by adding AT across campus you’re ensuring that your university is an inclusive learning environment for all students.
“Assistive technology is for everyone. One in five students is using assistive or adaptive technologies, often by choice rather than necessity. Institutions should recognise the value of ‘inclusive for all’ and investigate how digital technologies can support inclusion in learning and assessment.”
That being said, whilst Assistive Technology can be beneficial for everyone, it is necessary for students living with additional learning needs or a disability. Assistive Technology allows these students to take control of their own learning journey, and gain some independence in their education. But it shouldn’t stop there. Those diverse learning needs don’t disappear when they complete their studies. If they’ve found the right tools that work for them in education, those tools should naturally be available and continue to support them as they progress into the world of work.
Transition of support
Transition of support is really essential – imagine walking out of college one day and going into the workplace the next and not even having the simplest access to a pen and paper. Access to Assistive Technology should be as freely available as that.
There’s a current buzz in education circles around creating work-ready employees, so then equally, the workplace should be ready to adopt them, bring them in and of course, resource and support them.
More and more employers are now recognising the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace. But it’s not just about age, gender, sexuality and ethnicity. Organisations are beginning to learn that they need the benefits that neurodiverse individuals can bring with a unique range of skills, gifts, talents and completely different perspectives that their neurotypical counterparts don’t have.
For example, neurodiverse individuals may not flourish in a traditional interview format, but they still have lots to bring to the table, including the ability to approach problems from a different angle and consider innovative solutions to business challenges.
Assistive Technology is just one of the ways Texthelp can support this transition into the world of work. Not only does AT provide ongoing support for individuals to be more productive, be happier and stay in the job, but it is going to have a knock-on productivity benefit for the whole organisation.