A Review On The Assistive Technologies For Educating Disabled Students In The Digital Era

A Review On The Assistive Technologies For Educating Disabled Students In The Digital Era

V. Vanthana

Department of Computer Applications, The Standard Fireworks Rajaratnam College For Women.




In the dominant digital era, education is the significant thing for everybody to survive. It is easy to educate a normal people with no disabilities. But for the disabled people, special attention is required in teaching and learning procedure depending on the type of disabilities they contain. It is the duty of our society to provide a convenient platform for such people to get equal opportunities in education. To support them, there are many assistive devices and technologies available suitable for the available type of inabilities. The objective of this study is to portray the summarized view on such technologies.

Keywords – assistive technology, speech recognition, disability, online education, inclusive portal.


Disability refers to the inability of an individual functioning like physical, Visual, mental and logical impairment. It is a challenging thing to educate such people. But technology has created simplicity in educating the disabled learners. For years, differently-abled students have writhed with their assignments or drop out of schools as there is lack of convenience. This results in inadequate and unequal educational opportunities for disabled ones. But the rapid growth of the computer-based technology, has offered a boon to such students.

Many software is arising day to day for disabled students that assists them to gather their knowledge of interest, communicate their own ideas, and the active participation in educational experiences. As an illustration, new assistive computer technologies (AT) for the traditional Braille includes mobility, hearing, and visual aids The arrival of online learning in particular has created greater accessibility for the disabled students. Essentially, new technologies allow students to take benefit of many of the same opportunities for success as other students—turning yesterday’s disabled students into today’s enabled students!

Types of disabilities in the classroom

There are many varieties of disabilities among the students. They are as follows,

Physical: Those who are in wheelchair, using prosthetic limbs, having muscular dystrophy or many other conditions are called physically disabled, all of which can face accessibility challenges.

Sensory: Those who have visual impairment, blindness, deafness and hearing illness are called sensory disabled. Such students cannot utilize the traditional classroom teaching materials and tools.

Cognitive: Cognitive disorder students face difficulties with remembrance, self-expression, learning disabilities, etc. Unlike other students, these students can’t carry out their academic works.

Psychiatric: Students with psychiatric disability have phobias or behaviour disorders made them to have lack of concentration and steadiness in their academic work as well as personal life.

Health-related: These disabilities refer to students with enduring diseases such as diabetes, cancer, etc can’t attend their regular classes. They can’t participate in activities in the traditional classroom environment. And they are not able to navigate quickly from building to building for different classes due to their illness.

Assistive Technology (AT)

The revolution happened in the IT sector is the major motive of equal education opportunities for disabled students as they are the foundation of assistive technology. AT refers to the equipment that can be used to improve the functional capabilities of the students with disabilities. For each type of disability, an assistive technology exists.

Available Technologies for every category of disability:

1)      Dragon Naturally Speaking software for Speech recognition

Speech recognition is a human-computer interface technique in the IT field. With the incessant growth of computer information technology, speech recognition will make significant innovations and the explore of speech recognition system will be more in-depth. [1]. There is many Speech-Recognition software available for the students with visual impairment, or with physical limitations that provides them an optional way from typing on a keyboard. The speech-to-text devices (mobile / other electronic gadgets) can be used to perform their academic tasks like assignments, exams, presentations, etc. Using such software, the disabled students can speak into a microphone, which can then be translated automatically into typed documents. The most well-known software for this is Dragon Naturally Speaking.

In the Dragon Naturally Speaking software, voice recognition can be done to write word documents, enter data in Excel and to write emails. Once installed, it is most user friendly as, no training needed. The disabled students here can dictate their sentence and they can be automatically typed. Dictation is ended with simple commands such as full stop, comma, new line and new paragraph. The students can speak with a quiet voice and it is possible to dictate many emails or other documents in open-plan offices.Any desktop or laptop with built-in microphones is adequate for this software. Bluetooth connections are recommended as it can be easy to forget to disconnect the headset when the students get up to walk away from your computer. [2]

Natural Readers software for converting Text-to-Speech:

A text-to-speech in short termed as TTS is used to translate typical linguistic text into speech. It is the best assistive aides for people affected with reading or visual impairment [3]. This kind of technology assists by letting them to hear the text appearing on the system screen. It is an improvement over the traditional Braille because once the software is installed, it can read everything existing on the screen, whatever the content format may be (e.g. .pdf or website content). This allows students to involve themselves in online activities, access online course materials, check email or other social network messages, etc. One of the famous TTS software is Natural Readers.

Natural Reader is an affordable and efficient assistive technology tool with diverse applications. Through this software, it is possible to improve the learning capability and the life style of disabled students like the other non-disabled students. Its ease of use, compatibility feature with Microsoft Office programs, and high quality, natural sounding speech make it a tool of choice for learning disabled and visually impaired learners. It has the potential to read out the print based material with good quality and sweet voice. The NeoSpeech TTS with high quality and natural sounding voice is used for reading the content. [4]

Visual Aids:

Visual aids are the most attractive technology which is used in the process of teaching as they facilitate the easy and deep understanding of the concept delivered by the teachers. It is the most active and easy learning method for humans. If a teacher teaches using models or any visual aids rather than black board, the students can easily identify and interpret the concepts. It also inculcates the students to analyse, compare and evaluate the concepts learnt. So visual aid is the most appreciating one as it stimulates all the higher level of Bloom’s taxonomy [5].

This aid can be specially used for the students with visual disabilities. For them, there is assistive technology that includes screen magnification software which enlarges portions of the screen where the reader directs the mouse. Screen reader software then translates screen text to Braille, or any text-to-speech programs.

Audio Aids:

This is the assisting technology used for the students with hearing disability. It contains notifying devices that use flashing lights on the computer screen instead of sound. In the phones too, Voice Carry-Over (VCO) technologies can be enabled for the students with hearing

Difficulties. With this they can have the illusion of communicating in the phone with their natural voice.

Physical Aids:

For students with physical mobility many technologies are available to assist them in doing their usual school and college work. There also exists audio books for students who cannot physically carry books and keyboard adapters such as keyguards to prevent mistyping from tremors or loss of control. Also there exists voice recognition software for students who cannot type.

Online education a boon for disabled students

Online Education, though a traditional one has its familiarity during the covid-19 lockdown period. It is well suitable for people of any age category. For the disable students, it is the greatest support. In online education there exists PNP [6] called preferences to students. It allows the students to specify their type of disability in their profile, that makes the teacher to provide the suitable learning material for them.

When a student selects a learning object, the platform will show it in the format appropriate to their accessibility profile [7]. International standardization organizations work to define technical requirements necessary for the successful adaptation of LPs as well as update them continuously following the evolution of technology.

Inclusive Learning Portal for disabled students

The Inclusive Learning Portal is used to support teachers in the process of developing, sharing and delivering accessible LOs that can address the diversity of disabled learner needs and requirements and to provide teacher training opportunities for enhancing teachers’ competences on inclusive learning and accessibility principles. The main target of the Inclusive Learning Portal is to create and sustain a network of teachers of people with disabilities, who will be developing and sharing their own accessible LOs used in training organizations around Europe. [8]. Some portal links are http://www.inclusivelearning.ca/ [9], http://epkhas.ses.usm.my/english-main [10], http://www.tes.co.uk/sen-teaching-resources/, http://lalidcrepository.org/, http://www.klascement.be/ [11].


Technology had created a new world for educating disabled students. It breaks the traditional isolated classroom for the disabled one and assists them to mingle themselves with other students. It made them to improve their peer relationships. There are many assistive tools discovered for the welfare of such students. The key feature of contemporary computer-based educational technology is that it is focused on accessibility and offers almost limitless

flexibility, making it adaptable to all varieties of disability. This endless opportunity is truly what education should be all about, for everyone.


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