Computer access and adaptations for Literacy

Literacy for Students with Multiple Special Needs

The following list are useful products to help students with disabilities engage in the classroom environment.  The products listed below are simply EXAMPLES of the products available in each area, these companies are not endorsed and in each categories there are many other options in the marketplace.

Adapting toys and environmental control: 

Switches- Switches can allow students with disabilities to interact with toys, computers and items such as household appliances with adapters.  is a company that sells many types of switches for all different types of physical and cognitive needs.

Switch toys- Switch toys are usually standard battery operated toys that have been adapted for switch use by adding a battery interrupter which allows the toy to turn on and off by plugging in a switch. Toys and devices can include; talking Elmo, musical toys, CD and tape player and much more. - offer a variety of switch toys 

Powerlink- Powerlinks with adaptive switches can be used to let a student use items such as blenders, mixers, lights and other simple household appliances. This allows the student to participate in cooking activities and many other daily tasks with a single switch. 

Adapting a computer:

Standard adaptations to an operating system-  Students with motor, visual and cognitive difficulties can benefit greatly by even simple adaptations built into windows and mac operating systems such as visual adaptations, keyboard settings and auditory support. The following are simple settings to change to make the computer more friendly and usable for students:

Increased font and icon size- In both Man and Windows computers adapting the size of buttons, window commands and icons can allow a student to more easily close windows, open programs, and see the cursor to choose items. In Windows this option is under “Accessibility Options”, “Mouse” and “Display” in the Control Panel. In the Mac, these options are under “System Preferences” and “Universal Access”.  If you need more detailed instructions see the links below. - On this website are instructions and videos about adaptation of Windows operating system - Adaptations for Macs

Switch Adapters- A switch adapter allows a switch to be plugged into a computer to simulate mouse clicks or keystrokes on the computer to use switch accessible websites or software.   
Switch Interface Pro from 

Overlay keyboard- a large keyboard with changeable overlays to support writing for students with physical and cognitive disabilities. 

Enlarged keyboard- An enlarged keyboard for easier access for students with physical, visual and cognitive disabilities. 

Touchwindow- A touchwindow in a clear frame that can mount to the front of a monitor to allow the monitor to become a touchscreen and control the mouse. 
Mouse adaptations- Sometimes a mouse can be difficult for a student to use so a joystick or rollerball
may be the answer for better physical access.Roller Joystick II- 
BigTrack Trackball- 

Switches that talk- Some switches have the ability to have simple recordings on them to “talk” when they are activated by a student.  This can allow a student to participate in class activities such as repetitive songs, stories, circle-time activities and more. 

Compartmentalized communicators- These are recordable devices with 2-64 compartments in which you can record the cells to say phrases the student needs with a changeable overlay for new subjects of communication.
Tech Talk- 

Literacy skills-
Adapted books- Traditional picture books can be adapted with a powerpoint or other software to allow a book to be read out-loud to a student and utilize a switch interface.

Literacy websites:
There are many websites available for students with disabilities to access with a switch or auditory support.  Here are a few recommended ones: 

Switch Software and websites:

Teaching Learners with Multiple Special needs- This blog has an extensive list of switch activities available online for student learning 

Free switch learning games-

The following are examples of companies make cause and effect software for beginning switch users: 

Writing Software:
Picture supported writing program:  These programs allow the student to create sentences from a pre-made picture grid on a topic.  The teacher enters pictures in the writing grid about class projects, books read, current events and more.
Communicate: SymWriter Windows- 

Auditory supported writing-
This allows a student to hear their letters, words and sentences as they type.  Auditory feedback is a great multisensory approach for learning literacy skills.
Write Out:Loud 6- 

Word Prediction- This is a software that guesses the word that the student is typing as they are attempting to type the word.  The prediction can make a student with a physical disability more efficient in typing and a student who has a difficult time spelling a word able to find the word they intended to type and hear it back to confirm their choice.
Co:Writer 6-

Curriculum support:
Boardmaker: a program to help build curriculum for students with disabilities.  It helps by providing picture support for visual schedules, picture exchange systems and supported stories and books.     

A few companies that sell Assistive Technology Products that are useful in the classroom: