Low Tech Assistive Technology: 21 Tools All Teachers Must Use
When you hear the term “education technology,” you might imagine shiny laptops or virtual classrooms. However, you shouldn’t dismiss low tech assistive technology (AT) quickly, especially if you’re teaching students with disabilities, .
Schools have closed in recent months, but it’s still unclear when they will reopen the doors to students and teachers. Reopening schools is even debatable. So, in the meantime, schools have transitioned to distance learning. If you are teaching from home for the first time, how can you make the transition easier for everyone including yourself?
This is where free, low tech assistive technology can still help you.
In this post, we discussed the role they play in your online classes and the top tools teachers should use.
Table of Contents
Low tech assistive technology
What is low tech assistive technology (AT)?
Low tech assistive technology includes tools that help students learn on their own, especially those with physical and learning disabilities. These tools are often free or affordable, and do not require training for users. In the classroom, low tech ATs include highlighters, markers, magnifying lenses, etc. However, in this post, we only listed easy-to-use and affordable or free apps, plugins, or software programs for teachers and students. That’s why you can still consider them low tech assistive technology.
Where can you find low tech assistive technology?
If you’re wondering about where to find easy-to-use assistive apps or browser plugins, you can find them easily on Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store. You can also dig into our library of resources. We have these categories for special education resources:
- Autistic learners
- Dyslexic students
- Hearing-impaired learners
- Vision-impaired students
- Sign language resources
- Students with writing difficulties
How can low tech assistive technology help in my online classes?
Overall, these low tech ATs can help your online classes become more accessible—these can simplify the browsing, reading, and writing experience of the students. These tools can also make your teaching experience less hassle. However, take note that they work best when you use them with other learning software.
Top 21 low tech assistive technology for teachers
The low tech ATs we listed here range from web browser plugins to apps. They are not that complicated to learn, especially if you use it together with the students.
1. Just Read – Chrome extension
Just Read is an essential free extension you should get if you are using Chrome or Firefox. With this installed in your browser, you can remove the distracting elements on any page in one click—comments, pop-ups, ads, menus, etc. You can only see the article and the table of contents. Just Read is definitely handy when you’re delving deep into research.
2. Libre Texts
Libre Texts is another useful tool when you’re doing research. It’s a free collection of textbooks about biology, chemistry, engineering, humanities, and more. Notably, the textbooks have interactive visual elements for comprehensive reading. Libre Texts also has assistive technology on its platform.
3. Cute PDF
Cute PDF is a free software program that lets you create PDFs. To create PDFs using this tool, you just need to download it from the site, select a file to convert to PDF, and then click “Print.” After that, you can save the file as PDF anywhere on your computer.
zShot is a free, five-in-one tool by Mafooly, available on iOS and Android devices. It has a document scanner that lets you annotate, eSign, and share PDFs or PNGs. Besides a scanner, it also has a photo editor, a video editor, a slideshow maker, and a collage maker.
Scoutlier helps you create activities based on templates made by experts. Students can also share their learnings in photos, videos, or audio and not just in text form. It’s a low tech assistive technology tool that works even with slow internet. It’s also available on iOS and Android devices.
Their goal is to help struggling teachers and students to thrive. Azulita provides free downloadable materials for teachers and 6th to 12th graders. On the site, you can find lessons, videos, references, and special ed resources. Azulita also provides you with self-care resources about yoga and meditation.
Beyondpad is a free, straightforward note-taking tool with a kick. It lets you create dropdown lists, make boards, add numbers, and even put timers. It also lets you add tags to the notes and structure them according to categories. You can customize each note’s color as well.
The Walking Classroom will diversify your class learning materials for students grades 3–8. It offers free, kid-friendly educational podcasts about English, Science, and Health topics. The big idea behind this nonprofit program is to help students learn while they’re multi-tasking or walking. The app is available on iOS and Android devices.
Need to annotate documents? This tool could help you. eMargin can also let you highlight words and sentences in different colors and add tags for easy tracking. Besides that, you can also share your annotations and discuss them with your students. The recent history on the sidebar will also let you see the new annotations your students made.
10. Easy Write
Easy Write is a smart helper when you’re writing essays, instruction materials, or articles for younger students. Its interface is straightforward—you just need to paste the text on the text box and Easy Write will highlight the uncommon terms you’ve used. This is an awesome tool to ensure that your writing is readable and you’re using jargon sparingly.
Awesome Screenshot is a screen recorder and capturer. What we love about this tool is that you can take screenshots in one click and connect it to tools like Trello, Google Drive, or Asana. Oh, and there’s also a Picture-in-Picture effect for recording videos. You can also annotate and share your screenshots anywhere.
Are you teaching preschool students from home? Or perhaps you’re assisting parents in teaching their little ones? You can use or suggest Sight Words Sentence to their moms and dads. It’s a fun tool that helps kids practice in recognizing the Dolch Sight Words. Eventually, they’ll ace building complete sentences with the help of this app.
SMMRY is a one-click online summarizing tool. You just need to drag the link of the extension to your browser’s bookmark bar. Next, open the article you want to summarize in another tab. You can then click the bookmarked link, set the number of sentences (ex. 3–7 sentences), and then click the “Summarize” button. After that, SMMRY will also show the percentage it reduced and the summary’s number of characters. It also has settings that allow you to remove questions, quotations, etc.
Standards Planner has thousands of free resources for educators that align with Common Core, ISTE (Technology), Next-Gen Science (NGSS), AASL (School Library), and more. With those free resources, can create a simple lesson plan here and then integrate it into your Google calendar. You can also color-coordinate your lessons or courses, create custom events, and drag and drop resources.
Do you need to proofread or edit your students’ essays? You can go to Typely and edit with ease and precision. The best thing about Typely is it doesn’t only focus on grammar but also on different factors like jargon, redundancy, cliches, fallacies, misspelled words, and many more comprehensive elements. It also has general settings that you can tweak before you edit—you can switch to markdown syntax, change the font size, and even enable typewriter sound effects.
This is another tool you’d want on your arsenal if you’re into research and checking papers. Academic Word Finder helps you detect the high-value words in your essay or article. First, you need to log in. After that, all you need to do is paste the text on this page, set the paper’s grade level (K–12), and then AWF will show the words with high value.
17. Worksheet Genius
Worksheet Genius is a free tool that helps you prepare worksheets for English and Math. You can also create word lists and clip arts, and access useful links from around the web. In the English/ Literacy worksheets, you can find topics like Phonics, spelling, speech, handwriting, etc. Meanwhile, in Math worksheets, you’ll find basic math, rounding, fractions, and temperature.
18. DIY Chart
For your data presentation needs, you can use this quick chart-making tool. DIY Chart can help you create a variety of graphs and charts—bars, columns, pyramids, lines, bubbles—you name it. It also lets you embed the chart in your website. You just need to sign up, create the chart, and then publish it anywhere you want.
19. Puzzle Maker
Discovery Education’s Puzzle Maker is a tool that lets you create printable puzzles for your tests. It’s easy to use and doesn’t take several minutes to make a puzzle. You can make a word search, criss-cross, fallen phrases, math squares, letter tiles, mazes, and more. You can either print the puzzle directly from the site.
20. Graph Free
Need to create graphs on your quizzes? Give it a professional touch with Graph Free. You can set the plot size up to 900, types of axes and grids, caption, legend, shading, and annotation. To save the graph, just right-click on the photo and save your copy on your desktop.
21. Google Dictionary
If you’re writing or correcting papers frequently, we highly recommend you add this extension to your Chrome browser. Google Dictionary lets you define any word on any page. Just double-click a word and GD will define the word. You can also double-click a word and then click the extension above the bookmarks bar. You can also enter words on the extension and get their meaning.
As you can see, there are plenty of quick and easy tools you can use to improve your teaching experience. Go ahead and try any of these tools we like and make your distance teaching hassle-free!
What is mid tech assistive technology (AT)?
Mid tech assistive technology is a set of tools that may have complex features and require training for the user to master them. Unlike low tech AT, they can be pricier. Examples of mid tech AT are screen magnifiers, wheelchair, adapted keyboard, scientific calculators, etc.
What are examples of high tech assistive technology?
High tech AT includes text to speech and speech to text software, tablets, laptops, smartboards, and AAC devices.
Know more about low tech assistive technology here.
All Digital School focuses on helping parents and teachers conquer the world of online education. That’s why we have gathered the best resources about online education here on our site.
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