Learning Disabilities: Assistive Technology & Support
In recent years, science and technology have made tremendous strides forward in helping people with all kinds of disabilities. Not all students find these technologies helpful, but they can help some students take advantage of their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses. If you think that one of these technologies might be helpful for you, ask the person who administered your testing or contact the Coordinator of Disabilities Services.
- Word Processors:
This is one of the most common assistive technologies and also one of the most useful. Many LD students find it easier to type their assignments than to write them out by hand. Spell checking, which is often integrated into word processors, can be very helpful as well. There are a number of computer centers on campus that are available to students to use for word processing. Computers can also be purchased through Haverford at a special academic price. While many students now use their own personal computers for word processing, this technology can still be a helpful accommodation in situations such as final exams where students are given a test booklet in which to hand-write responses.
- Grammar Checkers:
While still relatively primitive, grammar-checking programs help students find basic grammatical and stylistic flaws in their writing. It can also help teach students some of the fundamentals of grammar by pointing out examples of incorrect writing in their own work.
- Speech Recognition:
There have been vast improvements to this technology in recent years. Speech recognition can aid students in writing, especially when used for verbal brainstorming and for transcribing dictation. It is recommended that continuous-speech recognition programs be used in order to obtain the maximum benefit. Speech recognition can be made available on most any personal computer.
- Speech Synthesis and Screen Readers:
These programs can read computer text documents and web pages aloud to help aid in comprehension.
- Screen Magnifiers:
Screen magnifiers help enlarge sections of a computer screen to make words easier to read.
- Optical Character Recognition (OCR):
These hardware devices scan printed text and send the information to a computer where the text can be read aloud by a speech synthesizer.
- Variable Speech-Control Tape Recorders:
This device allows the listener to play audiotapes at a variety of speeds (both faster and slower) without distorting the sound. For instance, a recorded lecture could be played back at twice the normal speed. This would just sound like the professor was speaking more quickly and her or his voice would not become high pitched or distorted in any other way.
- Pocket Dictionaries and Thesauruses:
These allow students to quickly and easily look up spellings, definitions, and synonyms for various words. These can also be found for languages other than English.
- Personal Data Organizers:
Many LD students find these tools (both electronic and manual) useful for keeping track of assignments, names, and addresses. They are an excellent aid in general organization.
There are numerous support services offered to all students at Haverford College free of charge. The following is a list of these resources, including a brief description of each and whom to contact for further information.
- Free Tutoring:
All Haverford students are entitled to free, personal peer-tutoring for any Haverford, Bryn Mawr, or Swarthmore class. Contact your professor for more information.
- The Writing Center:
Open Sunday 5-11pm and Monday through Thursday 8-11pm, the Writing Center is located in the Strawbridge Room on the first tier of Magill Library and is staffed by specially trained students to help with all stages of the writing process. It is also available in Zubrow Commons in the INSC Tuesday and Wednesday 8-11pm.
- The Math Question Center (MQC):
Many students come to the math question center to work on problem sets. There are always upper-class math majors (and often faculty as well) who are there to answer any question you may have. The Math Question Center is located in the Math Lounge, Hilles 011, and is open every Thursday from 7-9pm.
- ITC / Instructional Technology Center:
Located on the second floor of Stokes, the Instructional Technology Center (ITC) has dozens of computers equipped with the latest in multimedia technology and programs to help aid students in their study of foreign languages. Multi-language word-processing, video equipment, a scanner, and OCR software.
- Consultation with a Learning Skills Specialist:
Via the ODS (610-896-1290), students can arrange for a private consultation with learning skills specialist, who will offer advice about such matters as time management, note taking, test preparation, reading skills, and organization. Half-hour sessions are available on most Mondays.