Smart Phones for the Disabled Student

Adapted from: Unleashing the Power of Innovation for Assistive Technology, National Center for Technology Innovation

Assistive Technology is an ever-changing group of products and devices. Today devices everyone uses can be easily adapted to assist those with special needs. The current trend for technology is to make it simple to learn, to use, integrate, and support. This is welcome news to parents and caregivers of children with special needs. This new trend allows for more people to have the ability to use the technology. 

Smart phones are an excellent example of technology with the potential to enhance the teaching and learning experience of children with disabilities. In addition to serving as a means of communication, smart phones have the capability to run multiple applications that support and accompany students in their day-to-day activities. For example, the iPhone offers the application iSigns. The app facilitates communication between deaf students and general education teachers and other who do not sign. Students and teachers who need to learn American Sign Language can use the program containing 800 signs with gestures modeled with a 3D character.

Students with hearing and speech impairments can communicate with their hearing peers and teachers using the Google Android phone and an application called Speaking Pad. Users of these technologies enter data into their cell phone and then make information available through speech output.

Another application can be used by students with autism and other disabilities to create and organize personal tasks. iPrompts, which provides visual prompting tools to help users transition between activities, understand upcoming events and make choices and focus on tasks. 
For students with visual impairments, screen magnifiers are available, enabling user to capture text and images with a built-in camera and then enlarge items that appear on the phone’s screen.

At the same time, applications designed for people with disabilities are crossing over into the mainstream, blurring the distinctions between AT and consumer technologies. Text-to-speech is an integral part of in vehicle GPS units and cell phones, screen magnifiers help consumers cope with shrinking screen sizes, and captions on TV and internet video are being used to reinforce language learning an to provide viewing solutions for noisy environments.

Find Support

Do you have questions about making modifications to your home or vehicle?

Visit the My Child Without Limits support community and talk to parents, caregivers, and professionals about their experiences with changing homes and cars to better suit disabled children.


Looking for more information on Assistive Technology and Individualized Service Plans?

Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA)
(877) 687-2842 (877) 687-2842

Alliance for Technology Access
(707) 778-3011 (707) 778-3011

National Assistive Technology Technical Assistance Partnership (NATTAP)
(703) 524-6686 (703) 524-6686 (AT resources)