Deirdre Madden, Assistive Technology Outreach Co-ordinator, Disability Support Service, University College Cork gives an overview of Assistive Technology which might be of use to people with Dyspraxia/DCD. Although the information below is geared towards students it could also be relevant in the area of employment and everyday living skills.
Many students who have Dyspraxia/DCD find writing a challenge. Touch-typing can be an excellent alternative is most definitely is a life skill. This UCC video has some useful Touch-typing Advice & Resources.
Some students with Dyspraxia/DCD may also have reading difficulties or having their own typed work read by to them might be beneficial in helping to improve their writing. Natural Reader is a free program which may be helpful with this.
For some dyspraxic/DCD writers, stamina and/or spelling may be an issue. In such cases speech recognition software could offer a backup.
For some students with Dyspraxia/DCD organising and planning can be a real challenge and often this makes writing essays/projects and studying very difficult. Mind mapping can offer a great solution. Often educational psychologists recommend Inspiration mindmapping software. This video shows a little of what Inspiration has to offer and can help you to get started with it.
While Inspiration is a reasonably affordable piece of software there is also a free mind mapping package available called Xmind. This video gives a brief introduction to mind mapping with Xmind.
Mind maps have many, many applications in the educational environment, from helping to make very visual timetables to being an excellent comprehension and study tool where the student makes their own mind map of a certain chapter or topic. In creating the mind map the student processes the information very intensely. Through the use of colour, space and images they can make their own very visual representation of their learning materials. They can print it out or if they use the mind map on the computer they can also avail or sound files (perhaps to help with languages) or of video files (YouTube has some wonderful education resources). Once created, their own mind map on a topic is the perfect customised revision aid helping to go back over materials in the run up to an exam.This video gives an outline of how to use mindmapping for school work and homework.
Carrying the school bag or organising the school books can be an intense challenge for some learners with Dyspraxia/DCD. Electronic versions of school texts might offer an alternative. This video takes you through the possibility of getting electronic versions of your textbooks.
Assistive technology and the associated IT can be very costly. If you live in Ireland, have a disability/learning difficulty and you need an aid or appliance for day to day activities you can claim the VAT back on the software/hardware you require. This video talks you through that procedure.
Typewiz typing tutor - https://www.dyspraxia.ie/Assistive-Technology
Website - www.typewiz.com
Typewiz is Irish developed typing program by Searsol. It is a new fun and interactive way to learn to touch type for children and offer the following benefits:
. Typewiz is a self-paced course which allows students to work at their own pace.
. Your child can earn different words per minute badges (Bronze, Silver or Gold) as they become faster at typing.
. Your child gets to select different avatars as they progress up the lessons on Typewiz.
. Your child can earn coins based on their performance on the course.
. Various tying games are available in Typewiz which allows your child to interact and learn typing while having fun.
. Coins can then be used in our games arcade where each coin spent allows the student to access one game.
. Your child can earn lesson badges as they progress up the lessons.
. Realistic hands with a green finger which shows the user what keyboard button to press.
. Graphs of all previous percentage scores with Words Per Minute (WPM) are available.
BBC Dance Mat Typing - www.bbc.co.uk/schools/typing
Nessy Fingers - www.nessy.com/uk
SpongeBob SquarePants Type Rider - www.nick.co.uk
Tux Typing - tux4kids.alioth.debian.org
Typing Tournament - www.amazon.co.uk
Read Please - readplease.en.softonic.com
Browse Aloud - www.texthelp.com
Talking Faces (freely downloadable) - www.inclusive.co.uk/downloads
Talking Postcards, tins and photo albums - www.tts-group.co.uk
There are also other similar programs but with greater flexibility from Tag Learning. www.taglearning.com
2Simple - www.2simple.com: 2Create a Story, 2Publish, 2Type, 2Connect
Onscreen vocabulary tool: Word Bar www.dyslexic.com
Mind mapping software: Kidspiration - www.inspiration.com
Onscreen magnifier - www.magnifier.source
Vu-bar 5: onscreen slotted ruler good for those who skip lines when reading and RapidSet -allows for quick and easy changing of background and font colours without having to go through screen properties - www.fx-software.co.uk/assistive.htm
Techdis toolbar: allows users to choose colour, font size and simplification of pages in an internet browser -www.techdis.ac.uk
Dragon Dictation: free voice recognition app -www.nuancemobilelife.com/apple/supportdictation.html
My Pictures Talk: create stories or task completion (originally designed for students with ASD) - www.grembe.com/mpt