Chapter 7 – Assistive Technology for Reading Introduction 1 Using the sett process 7 Decision Making Guide 8 sett process 9 Reading Continuum 14 Reading Continuum

Student’s Abilities and Difficulties

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Student’s Abilities and Difficulties

As a team, discuss what the student’s abilities and difficulties are related to reading. Please complete and review Section XX of the WATI Student Information Guide: Reading (pp. ****)
Physical Considerations

Students who have difficulty physically manipulating books, text, or other print based materials may benefit from assistive technology solutions to increase their accessibility to the text. Once those accommodations have been made, the student may need no further accommodations. Some examples of physical access questions are:

  • Can the student support or hold the printed materials in a comfortable and accessible fashion without compromising his/her posture?

  • How well does the student see the print?

  • Have you noticed a difference in the student’s reading ability when the font size is smaller, larger, with or without a serif?

  • Does the spacing between the words or lines of text impact the student’s vision?

  • Can the student track the words across the page/line without losing his/her place?

  • What happens when there are more or fewer words on a line such as when text is bulleted or indented?

  • Is the student affected by the amount of visual “clutter” on a page?

  • Has anyone assessed the impact of color on the student’s reading skills?

  • Is visual or physical fatigue an issue for this student?

  • What other physical considerations/questions are specific to this student?

Communication Considerations

Does the student have the ability to express their knowledge in all of the areas below? If not, please see Chapter 3 Assistive Technology for Communication.

Reading Comprehension

Erickson & Koppenhaver say that without instruction aimed at making meaning from text, children are left with an impression that “reading is merely decoding words and successfully saying them aloud….addressing only word reading will not promote successful silent reading comprehension.” (Erickson & Koppenhaver, p.64)

If a student has an identified language learning disability, is an English Language Learner (ELL), has a cognitive disability or otherwise lacks sufficient background knowledge, reading comprehension can be limited. Some questions to consider for this child include:

  • Does the use of pictures supporting the text increase the student’s background knowledge and comprehension?

  • Does the student benefit from “brainstorming” sessions using words or graphic maps?

  • How do you know the student understands the vocabulary used in the text?

  • What other pre-reading strategies have been used, and with what success?

  • Is there a difference in the student’s comprehension when the text is read aloud by an adult compared to the student’s independent silent reading?

  • Does the student comprehend equally well when the text is read aloud by an adult compared to computer read text?

  • Would the student benefit from seeing text highlighted as the computer reads it?

  • Does the student have auditory processing difficulties?

  • Is the student’s listening comprehension sufficient for auditory text only?

  • Is the student’s comprehension different for different types of text such as fiction, nonfiction, directions, and assessments?

  • Has the student’s working memory and/or short-term memory been assessed?

Word Attack Skills

It used to be assumed that students with cognitive limitations could only learn to read using a “sight-word approach”. That assumption has proven to be erroneous. Regardless of disability, successful readers need to build their skills to read and decipher unfamiliar words.

  • Does the student have the phonemic awareness to identify similar and dissimilar patterns in words?

  • Has the student established sound/symbol relationships?

  • Does the student recognize familiar words and patterns?

  • Can the student isolate individual sounds (i.e., initial, final, medial)?

  • Does the student use resources such as a word wall to decode unfamiliar words?

Sight Vocabulary

Word attack skills are important when encountering unfamiliar words, but if students need to decode every word they read in a sentence, their comprehension of the text will suffer. Good readers have automatic sight word vocabularies that they can read without stopping to decode.

  • Does the student have a sight word vocabulary?

  • Does the student remember previously taught words?

  • Can the student recognize and remember the visual pattern that words or letter combinations make (i.e. “ing”)?

Sensory Considerations

Some students are adversely affected by environmental stimulation that others can filter out or ignore. Some common factors that can impact a student’s learning and focus include hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity to stimuli such as

  • Visual clutter

  • Fluorescent lighting versus full spectrum lighting

  • Classroom and background noise

  • Tactile stimulation

  • Awareness of physical space

  • Other individual specific sensitivities

Although these factors are not directly related to reading, they impact the student’s ability to learn and focus on instruction so should always be considered.

Other Considerations

Each individual student has specific skills and areas of concern. Be certain to address those as you capture the particular traits of the student in this part of the SETT process.

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