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You are in: Home > Articles > Software Support for People with Learning Difficulties

Software Support for People with Learning Difficulties


There are a number of ways computers can be used to support people with learning difficulties. The availability of pictures, sounds and attractive graphics can be very motivating. Software has been specially written to provide additional feedback in the forms of graphics, sound etc. and offers opportunities for practising particular skills with which the learner has difficulty.

However, for many learners the computer is sufficiently motivating to enable them to make use of standard software and there are ways of making access to this software easier and more motivating.

SwitchIt! Maker 2The use of open framework software such as SwitchIt! Maker 2 allows material to be created that is appropriate to an individual learner, or a group of learners. This kind of material has proved to be beneficial as the learners will be much more likely to identify with the material involving them and their needs, rather than material about another person's needs or other group of learners. The content for this software can be created by an individual or obtained from publishers of such software. For example, the My World range of programs has resulted in the creation of a vast amount of learning resources appropriate for all kinds of special needs.

In many cases however, people with learning difficulties are able to use existing software. In this case it is important to examine the software carefully to make sure that it is appropriate for their needs, or to use various ways of adapting it to make it more appropriate to them.

Many educational packages now offer a wide range of options, from the most basic, simple word-processor to the more complex full Word for Windows package.

IntelliTalk 3Other facilities within word-processors can also be used for learners with special needs, for example, speech options can be turned on, as in IntelliTalk 3. If this is disturbing in the classroom environment, remember that speech can also be used through headphones connected to the computer. Some design and drawing packages available offer a range of options benefiting users who may be confused by the full package, but, with careful introduction may be able to start with a few options, gradually being introduced to the full range of possibilities.

Support for learners with learning difficulties can also be provided by using additional software and devices to help them access other standard computer packages. For example, overlay keyboards are commonly used as a way of supporting writing. They also can provide simplified access to the computer.


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