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Last Updated: 03/12/2018


Article of Interest - Technology

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Bridges4Kids LogoComputer Aids for Special Needs Children
Irene Helen Zundel, June 2005
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Computers are now a permanent fixture in our society. They are lauded as an educational tool in schools across the country. Because technology allows students to access, process, and organize information at lightning speed, schools are making their kids computer-savvy much earlier---sometimes even in kindergarten!

Because computers today are made to be “user friendly”, kids generally master the skills necessary to use them quite easily. Children with learning differences, hearing or visual impairments, developmental delays or physical challenges might have some difficulties---but they can be overcome by using a few adaptive aids.

To properly equip your computer to meet the needs of your special needs child, you first need to evaluate what kind of adaptive aids you require:

Is a screen magnifier to enlarge images and print something you need?

Do you need a mouse that is super easy to click? Or would an alternative kind of input device, such as a touch screen, be better?

Does the option of having all text read aloud to your child sound helpful?

Next, you have to equip the computer to meet your child’s special needs:

While each type of difficulty may require one or more adaptations to make computer use easier, these solutions aren’t necessarily complicated or expensive. Before you go in search of equipment, check your home computer’s “accessibility options.”

Both Microsoft and Mac include features that allow you to regulate the clicking speed of your mouse, and increase the size of navigation icons and cursors. They also have sound cues that notify you when a task has been completed. Some operating systems offer text to speech features, which are very helpful for children with visual impairment or learning differences. Some word processors have a “word completion” option This enables the computer to finish typing words and phrases for your child, greatly speeding up the writing process.

Here are some special tools that you may find helpful:

For children who have difficulty using a mouse or keyboard, try alternative input devices such as touch screens, switches and pointing devices. Edmark and Intellitools are companies that manufacture alternative input devices, as well as other special needs products.

If you need a text-to-speech tool, go to and download free applications that will enable your computer to read aloud any onscreen text.

Are you searching for a tool that will read textbooks aloud to your child? Visit and learn about their WYNN application.

Would you find a talking word processor helpful? Check into Clicker 4 from Crick Software Inc. for ages three and up. It reads aloud everything you child types, and lets him “write” with rebus pictures instead of words. There is also a “word grid” feature, which allows a child to click on difficult words that are displayed on the bottom of the page. If your child has spelling difficulties, she can insert these words into the text of what she is typing merely by clicking on them, making the writing process faster and less difficult.

To learn more about computer aids for special needs children contact:

Crick Software Inc.

Intellitools Inc.


Ms. Zundel is a freelance writer. She specializes in writing educational and family oriented articles. Visit her website at


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