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Special School District of St. Louis County

Students Use Assistive Technology
to Achieve Goals

Assistive technology helps redefine how students with individualized education programs are learning, which can lead to increased independence and self-confidence.

Micah Truelove-Herrick, a seventh-grader at Sperreng Middle School in Lindbergh Schools, uses a scanner to assist him with his schoolwork.

“I use my computer and scanner because my handwriting is bad,” said Micah. “The scanner helps me so much. I scan in my worksheets and then I’m able to type my answers.”

Assistive technology (AT) includes services and devices that promote, maintain or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. Devices range from enlarged keyboards to reading materials in Braille, and include computer apps and extensions, keyboard and mouse alternatives like joysticks and switches, reading supports including text to speech and word banks with text and pictures, and environmental supports including visual schedules and choiceboards.

According to Kathy Lalk, an SSD assistive technology specialist, AT provides the opportunity to increase independence, maintain current skills, or decrease issues that prevent the student from accessing the curriculum.

“It helps them to actively participate in class and demonstrate their knowledge,” said Lalk. “AT tools have features that allow customization to suit all students, regardless of cognitive level or physical ability.”

 “Teachers support students by embedding strategies and implementing AT tools to increase engagement, independence and make progress in IEP goals,” said Lalk. “Assistive technology can be used to individualize instruction for students.”

Teresa Miller, an SSD teacher at Ballwin Elementary in the Rockwood School District, has two students who use Bookshare, an online library of accessible e-books. They also use speech-to-text technology. One student uses a C-pen, which is a portable, pocket-sized device that reads text out loud with a human-like digital voice.

“Both students have extreme difficulty with reading, and the technology has enabled them to be independent with classwork and work toward their reading and writing goals,” said Miller. After using these assistive technology tools for one day, one of her students said she was very excited.

“We downloaded five more books on her Bookshare and she finished three quickly,” said Miller. “She said she had always wanted to read those books, but until now she couldn’t. She kept saying, ‘I love reading!’ over and over. The C-Pen has enabled her to be more independent in her class for the first time. She is definitely a success story.”

Kim White, an assistive technology facilitator, said it’s great to see students meet goals with assistive technology, and seeing their progress is one of her favorite things as a facilitator.

White praised Micah for helping other students with their AT tools. “Micah has helped us with technology issues at Sperreng. We’ve even pulled him in to talk to the SSD and Lindbergh technology staff to explain issues and he helps them troubleshoot. He’s very knowledgeable.”

Published January 2019

Micah Truelove-HerrickMicah Truelove-Herrick, a student at Sperreng Middle School in Lindbergh Schools, uses a scanner to assist him with his schoolwork.

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Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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