Special Education Services - Dyslexia Accommodations & Assistive Technology

Dyslexia Assistive Technology Resources

Assistive technology (AT) is any device that gives a student the ability to increase, maintain, or improve the capabilities in the classroom to help a student access learning and demonstrate their knowledge. Assistive technology must be considered for all students on an IEP or 504 and should be considered as needed for students on an Academic Progress Plan (APP) or struggling to read. IDEA 2004 requires IEP teams to consider the technology needs of all children with disabilities "to maximize accessibility for children with disabilities." (20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(3)(B)(v) & (20 U.S.C. 1400(c)(5)(H)). Students on a 504 of the Rehabilitation Act are provided accommodations, including assistive technology as part of related aids and services to ensure a student is receiving an appropriate education. (34 C.F.R. Part 104) The teams must make a decision on assistive technology devices and services based on student’s individual needs during the development, review, and revision of the IEPs, 504, and APP or when a team member deems it necessary due to changes in the student’s needs. AT is a bridge between a students' areas of weakness and their abilities and skills.

AT can assist students in a variety of ways including: enabling access to material at their grade through the use of text-to-speech software and audiobooks; enabling students to express their thoughts through the use of dictation, (e.g., speech-to-text software), keyboards and word processing or word prediction software; correcting spelling and grammar through electronic spelling and grammar checkers; as well as enabling assisting students in creating notes through the use of recording devices. AT is utilized as a tool to compensate for the impact of dyslexia on learning and demonstrating knowledge. AT is not meant to be a replacement for direct instruction in the skills needed to alleviate reading, writing, and other deficits, nor is it intended to be used as a substitute for evidence-based remedial instruction. Rather, AT is designed to be used when the goal is to attain information or demonstrate knowledge that a student is unable to accomplish without such support.

Providing students, teachers, and parents instruction in the use, implementation, and integration of the technology in all appropriate settings is imperative for AT to be successful. AT needs to be available in all situation where the student is to complete tasks that are assisted by the AT. Provided AT may be made available in the child's home or in other settings (if the IEP/504 team determines that the student requires AT to gain equal access or as an accommodation to receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). School systems should develop policies, procedures, or operating guidelines in accordance with applicable regulations and laws that support the team's and/or district's ability to address and provide for the use of AT in all needed settings. AT should be coordinated with a student during transitions from school to college or workforce.

Accommodations for students with dyslexia or a struggling reader can include Assistive Technology (AT). Assistive technology allows a student to overcome the weakness that dyslexia may highlight and provide them with time-saving ways of demonstrating their knowledge. With the expansion of devices in our classrooms AT is giving students independence.

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Dyslexia Accommodations

Accommodations provide students the opportunity to participate in the school environment fully and allow students to demonstrate their knowledge. The OSDE defines accommodations as changes in the curriculum, instruction, or testing format or procedures that enable students with disabilities to participate in the general education curriculum. Accommodations should be considered to include assistive technology as well as changes in presentation, response, timing, scheduling, and settings that do not fundamentally alter the requirements.

Accommodations do not invalidate assessment results. Accommodations must be considered for students on IEPs and 504 Plans. Accommodations are to be employed during instruction (learning process), testing, and extracurricular activities.

Accommodations do not replace the need for evidence-based instruction. They enable students with disabilities to demonstrate knowledge, skills, and abilities without lowering learning or performance expectations and without changing the complexity of the target skills being taught or the test construct being measured. Accommodations may need to remain with a student after intervention for dyslexia and reading difficulties. A student’s reading ability may continue to be a hindrance to demonstrating their knowledge. The OSDE Accommodations Guide provides a framework for the selection and use of accommodations for students.

There is research that providing accommodations to a student does not provide an unfair advantage. For example, studies have shown that when extended time on tests is given, grades of students without disabilities are not significantly improved beyond those they achieved with standard time. The extended time was demonstrated to enhance the grades of students with disabilities necessitating this. https://dyslexiaida.org/accommodations-for-students-with-dyslexia/.

Accommodations can also be accessed during state-level testing. Oklahoma state law requires students to participate in the Oklahoma School Testing Program (OSTP). OSDE updates the OSTP Accommodations Manual yearly, and school staff should review the Manual for compliance with Standard and Non-Standard accommodations. A student should use accommodations for testing in the classroom to build their comfort and efficiency with the accommodations. Accommodations may be limited on a specific state test, but accommodations should not be removed from a student’s daily use during the school year. The removal of accommodation due to a test restriction limits the student’s independence in the classroom.

As students enter high school, ACT/SAT accommodations will need to be applied for and approval granted. The testing companies retain ultimate authority to determine whether a student will receive any testing accommodations and the accommodations the student will be permitted to use. One factor for approving accommodations that is reviewed is the uses of accommodation during the school career.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a set of principles for curriculum development and instructional planning that gives all students equal opportunities to learn. UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone – not a single, one-size-fits-all solution, but flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs. UDL provides guidance and examples for a wide range of instructional approaches and formats to stimulate and motivate learning, including the use of technology and assistive technology. UDL also incorporates principles of student choice and self-regulation as part of the design to foster independence in learning. UDL principles can benefit students in the classroom during effective literacy instruction, as well as during intervention periods.

Implementation of UDL relies heavily on students having access to appropriate technology, including assistive technology. For example, students with dyslexia will benefit from access to grade-level content in a range of formats, including audio and text-to-speech. See OSDE-SES’s webpage on UDL for more information: https://sde.ok.gov/universal-design

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Last updated on April 23, 2020