Solution Generation: Tools/Strategies
As a team, brainstorm and write on chart paper any assistive technologies &/or strategies you think will assist the student in successfully completing those tasks you identified.
The team brainstorms strategies and assistive technology tools that may be of benefit for the student to complete the identified tasks in the given environments. Do not critique or otherwise evaluate the suggestions at this time. List all suggested tools and strategies including those currently in use on chart paper for all to see. The tools and strategies discussed below follow the general continuum for reading. The continuum is generally organized from low to high Assistive Technology. It is not intended to be used as a step-by-step protocol for using AT tools with a student, but rather an organizational continuum of types of Assistive Technology.
A CONTINUUM OF CONSIDERATIONS
FOR ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY
Book adapted for access
Low-Tech Modifications to text
Handheld device to read individual words
Use of pictures/symbols with text
Modified Electronic Text
Scanner with OCR and text reader
Text Reader with Study Skill support
Using Reading Strategies
Some students are successful reading standard text with the assistance of low-tech strategies and systems. Students may need regular reminders in order to use successful reading strategies. Harvey and Goudvis describe strategies that students can use to enhance their understanding of the text such as:
Think how the book is like me.
Think how the book is like another book.
Think how the book relates to what I know.
Make a picture in your mind.
Tell it in your own words. (Harvey & Goudvis, 2000).
These strategies and others can be written on a bookmark and laminated. Some students do better with a visual or picture clue of strategies to use. You can find symbols to represent the strategies from the Internet or programs with graphic libraries such as Boardmaker® or Inspiration®. The student can then easily refer to the strategies while reading.
(Based on Harvey & Goudvis, 2000. The Picture Communication Symbols ©1981-2008 by Mayer-Johnson LLC. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Used with permission.)
Highlighters can be used to make specific letters or words stand out. Highlighters come in many colors and sizes. Students should be taught strategies for highlighting. Students can highlight new vocabulary, key words, dates, important people or facts, definitions, a sequence of steps or events, or concepts pointed out by the teacher as being important for a test. Use a consistent color for each category; vocabulary-orange, main ideas-pink, important people/dates-blue, etc. Students can later transfer that information to study guides or outlines. Some Crayola® highlighters are even erasable so that a student's highlighting can be later removed.
Highlighting Tape can be used in lieu of standard highlighters. Highlighting Tape comes in six colors (orange, yellow, pink, blue, purple and green) and has a large number of uses. It is especially useful in library books or other books that should not be permanently marked. The tape is easily removable and can be written on.
Transparent colored Post-it® notes can be used similarly to Highlighting tape and standard Post-its. Post-its can be used to remind the student of important text, facts, charts, or can be used by teachers to write pre-reading or summary questions (i.e., “What were the main reasons for the start of the Civil War?"). “Hefty” Post-it tabs can be used to mark important pages such as glossaries, table of contents or as a bookmark for students who have difficulty organizing themselves or their materials.
Another low-tech strategy for students reading standard text is using transparent color overlays. Some students experience a significant improvement in their reading when the standard white background is changed to a contrasting color. Experts in the field recommend trying different colors to see what the impact is on reading. If you have two copies of the same page of text and place a different colored overlay on each, you can ask the student to tell you which is better, clearer, and easier to read. Continue trying different colors to see if the student can find one that makes a difference. The student will often describe the effect as, “the letters don’t move”, “the words are bigger,” “the words are brighter,” “I can see the spaces,” etc. Different students are helped by different colors. Blue, pink, red, green, purple and other combinations have all been known to work. Some students benefit from two or more overlays overlapped on top of each other. Once the student finds a filter, have the student read 10 or more lines first without the filter and then with the selected filter. If this is going to work, it will work immediately (Sweeney, 2000).
Colored reading strips sometimes called Reading Helpers or EZC Readers ® are widely available and can be used in lieu of colored overlays. They come in a variety of widths and colors. Another simple idea is to place a strip of Highlighting Tape on a two-inch strip of clear plastic transparency (the kind used for overhead projectors). The child can then use it to move down the page, highlighting the line being read.