Assistive technology helps students with disabilities and developmental disorders succeed in academic settings, but tech can do so much more by providing ease of access to equal job opportunities. In EdTech Magazine’s Accessible Technology helps students with disabilities pursue STEM degrees, schools and businesses like Microsoft are making an effort to provide and improve assistive technology that will help students follow their interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) reports that students with disabilities are far more likely to enter STEM-related fields with an 11 percent entrance rate into undergraduate degrees. This significant growth is thanks to assistive technology and initiatives that level the playing field for students with disabilities in K – 12th grade. In 2016 Microsoft announced an effort to add new learning tools to their existing programs in Microsoft 360. The company stated in their press release, “The accessibility features in many of the tools in Office 365 – free for teachers and students – that educators use regularly with their students create even more inclusive experiences, enabling all learners to have that “aha” moment that motivates their ongoing success.” In recent years, fonts like Dyslexie for people who have dyslexia help with reading and writing.
EdTech reports that although efforts for increased access to STEM and other techs in schools and colleges, few students with disabilities move to postgraduate levels. This has promoted the University of Washington to create a project called AccessSTEM, an initiative focused on helping students with disabilities pursue graduate degrees. “AccessSTEM shares promising practices to help K–12 teachers, post-secondary faculty, and employers make classroom and employment opportunities in STEM accessible to individuals with disabilities,” reads their website. Outreach programs like these help boost college enrollment and provide better career opportunities for those with disabilities.
RoboKind also adds to this effort with their education platform Robots4STEM. The program offers easy to understand pre-made lessons that help students K – 12th grade develop the skills needed to pursue STEM-related fields. Their visual drag-and-drop building block style coding language called JettLingo teaches students the basics of logic and coding while simultaneously helping them to improve problem-solving skills and increase creativity. Robots4STEM is about creating the opportunities for children to pursue their passion for STEM-related fields.
Featured image: children at school by Lucelia Ribeiro on Wiki Commons