While communicating emotions, or learning seemingly simple concepts can be difficult for students with autism, learning disabilities and other special needs, new devices and gadgets are helping students overcome barriers in communication and learning.
Rachna Dixit (name changed), 10, a student of Yashodham High School, Goregaon, suffers from autistic spectrum disorder, which has impaired her ability to speak.
Soon, Dixit’s school will introduce her to AVAZ, a communication device for speech-disabled children, to help her communicate better in class.
AVAZ is an augmentative and alternative communication device to cater to the needs of students with learning and intellectual disabilities. “Rachna finds it difficult to speak but is cognitively sound. She can use AVAZ to respond to questions using the ‘speak’ function, which would read out typed sentences. She can communicate emotions such as pain and stress by clicking on representative icons. When in need of attention, she can use the call button,” says Prajakta Govale, speech therapist and audiologist, Yashodham High School.
“The device helps to communicate in three languages (English, Hindi and Marathi). Students will be able to relate to the graphics used, as they reflect Indian culture. It will help the students to understand their culture, which otherwise would be difficult to explain,” says Meera Kothari, director, counseling.
Technology has also helped Vaspan Patel, 15, who suffers from dyslexia. The Class 10 student of Little Angels School, Bandra, uses computers in his school and finds typing easier than writing. The ‘spell check’ function is a boon for dyslexics who often transpose alphabets while writing. “Books are complicated but computers have made learning easier for me,” said Patel.