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Harnessing Technology for Success in the Classroom

PHOTO: Students attended an assistive technologies workshop at the Denver Public Library recently where they learned how smart tablets apps can help people with learning disabilities. Photo credit: Beau Giles/Wikimedia Commons.
PHOTO: Students attended an assistive technologies workshop at the Denver Public Library recently where they learned how smart tablets apps can help people with learning disabilities. Photo credit: Beau Giles/Wikimedia Commons.
March 19, 2015

DENVER - If your child learns differently and is struggling in school, there may be an app for that. Students with learning disabilities attended a workshop at the Denver Public Library recently where they discovered how tools like audio books can help people with dyslexia.

Sally Pistilli, parent support specialist with Learning Ally, says assistive technologies boost confidence and remove barriers in the classroom.

"So you no longer feel like you're the one that's left out, you're the only one not getting it," she says. "Their self esteem goes up because they're able to prove they are smart, they do have a lot of gifts and a lot of things to add to the conversation."

The workshop was designed to help students develop self-advocacy skills and achieve academic success. Nearly 33,000 students in Colorado have learning disabilities, according to a 2014 National Center for Learning Disabilities report.

The NCLD report shows a higher incidence of learning disabilities among people living in poverty. The most common types impact reading, math and writing. Pistilli says we all use assistive technologies, like Global Positioning Systems mapping in smart phones, and when students use tools like dictation apps, it can help them keep up on assignments.

"So it takes so much of the stress off of the difficulties they have, they might be very verbal and very creative with their ideas for a paper, but just getting those down on paper, so much easier for them when they have this technology," says Pistilli.

In addition to workshops, a Denver Foundation grant will help support assistive technology training for parents and teachers, and give students access to 80-thousand audio books online.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO