September is National Literacy Month, so what better time to think about literacy support in schools and educational organisations. Literacy is the ability to read, write and use numeracy, and is a key life skill for everyone. While the basis of the educational system, some students may need more support than others in acquiring literacy.
School administrators are challenged with providing the necessary materials and resources, as well as ensuring that teachers and staff are able to use the tools and knowledge provided. With differing learning styles, special needs and accommodations and the ensuing IEP budgets, administrators are faced with as many challenges as there are students.
Technology’s Role in Literacy Support
For these institutions, education technology and assistive technology can be a godsend.
There are many different education technology tools, from apps, to games to collaborative tools. Voice reading apps, or text-to-speech tools, are becoming an indispensable tool for struggling readers. These tools play text aloud so students can listen as they read along. They are especially important for students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities, improving comprehension, boosting confidence and allowing students to remain on peer level in all subjects.
These tools can be used for personalised learning, but also as an important part of IEP plans, accommodations and assessments.
How Can School Administrators Implement a Literacy Support Technology Revolution in Their Schools?
Research is conclusive that technology is a powerful tool for literacy support.
However, researchers caution that the wide range of impact is dependent on how well the technology is embraced and employed.
Therefore administrators must have a well-thought out literacy support action plan incorporating many elements, including implementing assistive technology and tools for struggling students, addressing culture changes to support new educational technology and offering instructional support for teachers.
There are free tools, but for the best results and adoption rates by both teachers and students, the high quality audio and complete tools that are available in paid for services are essential (ease of use and natural sounding voices will ensure high adoption rates and frequent use), These innovative tools accompany students with voice throughout their work, whether reading or writing. While budgets must be found for these types of tools, grants, as well as savings on IEP budget spend often make up the difference. For example, the time saved on reading an assessment out to a student will make up for the cost of a year long license of speech-enabled literacy support.
While seemingly another thing for time and budget stretched school administrators to have to deal with, the right assistive technology tools are easily implemented and effective and efficient literacy support that should be integrated into all school literacy support programs.
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