It is said that spring is the season of rejuvenation and renewal. But for educators, parents, and students, August is the time when so many things get going again. The new school year begins, bringing with it many opportunities for renewal. Students are joining clubs, deciding to play instruments in the band or orchestra, going out for sports, and making new friends. Parents are adjusting to their children’s new schedules and the increased pace of the school year. And educators are implementing new literacy programs and instructional approaches.
It is a time of renewal and ramping up for us at the IRRC as well.
Assistive Technology Consultation is Back
After a summer hiatus, we have resumed our free assistive technology consultation appointments. Early in the school year, parents and teachers may notice children and teens struggling, or students themselves may express frustration when trying to complete common reading and writing tasks. If their struggles are a result of dyslexia or other reading disabilities, or they have the symptoms of such disabilities, assistive technology may be able to help. Implementing the use of assistive technology early in the school year allows for the possibility of mitigating struggles before the children’s or teens’ frustrations mount.
During these appointments, families meet in-person or virtually via videoconference with our Assistive Technology Coordinator Karah Kluck. Let’s hear from Karah with more on this service we provide:
“Our assistive technology consultation appointments are a wonderful opportunity for families to explore different options for aiding with reading and writing tasks both at school and in the home. During appointments, I introduce families and their children to a wide variety of applications that are meant to address some of the specific struggles that students face. These include applications that provide text-to-speech, speech-to-text, pre-made writing outlines, text prediction, dictionaries, grammar checkers, and more. Appointments can be tailored to the families’ specific needs, and I always try to present the information most relevant to each student. Families will also be sent home with helpful handouts that further explain how to use the AT presented during the appointment. If a family wants to try out the assistive technology at home, we also provide the opportunity to rent devices free of charge for a short period of time. This way they can gain the most realistic idea of how it can benefit their students. I always welcome families to ask lots of questions during appointments, and I am pleased to give honest and unbiased opinions.
You may be wondering, ‘How can assistive technology benefit my child?' Oftentimes it isn’t until after its implementation that a student, educator, or parent realizes the difference AT can make. Some of the possible advantages of using AT include: decreased time spent on homework assignments, decreased anxiety about assignments with large reading or writing portions, increased confidence when it comes to reading or writing, better comprehension of what is being read, and so much more. AT can even assist those who do not have documented or diagnosed reading or writing disabilities. Therefore, the caregivers of any children or teens who are struggling with reading and writing tasks are encouraged to request an appointment regardless of if they have been diagnosed with a reading disability.
This service can also be a great added resource for educators to suggest in addition to the help students who struggle with reading or writing already receive at school. Additionally, this service could be a good fit for families who homeschool their children and need solutions that could help multiple students at different grade levels. If you or someone you know could benefit from our service, invite them to fill out an appointment request found our Assistive Technology Consultation for Families page on our website. These appointments are free for any Iowa family, and $35 for non-Iowa residents.
It is with great pleasure that I enter my fourth year as an assistive technology coordinator at the IRRC. I can’t wait to meet you, and I look forward to furthering knowledge on the benefits of assistive technology.”
Questions about if an appointment is right for you? Email IRRC-FrontDesk@iowareadingresearch.org