Technology has changed how we learn and work. In both education and the workplace, inclusive technology is helping people to realize their true potential.
Inclusive or assistive technology often gets singled out as something that's only for students with special needs. But Universal Design principles teach us that all students can benefit from inclusive technology. It ensures multiple means of engaging with material and expressing learning, and provides tools to support students in their unique learning needs.
What’s even better is, if these tools are used across the general student body for collaboration, expression and productivity, all students can benefit from them and there is likely to be less stigma attached to an individual needing that extra bit of support.
The nature of how students learn has been changing over the last number of years, and the world is changing too. So the challenge is this: how do we advise students with confidence if we don’t know what the future is going to look like?
We cannot control or predict what the jobs of the future will be... but we can control the skills we develop in the classroom. Mastering core skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, problem-solving and creativity will successfully prepare students for study, work and life ahead.
We’re big advocates for improving literacy skills with the help of inclusive technology. On top of that, good digital literacy skills empowers people to interact with the world around them. That's why introducing learners to support tools early on in their literacy development can help prepare them for later life.
Inclusive technology comes in many forms. It can be as simple as a magnifying glass for someone with a visual impairment or as complex as eye-tracking technology to enable people with significant mobility impairments to use a computer.
All students have unique learning needs, regardless of whether or not they have a specific learning disability. Inclusive technology allows students to take control of their learning and gain independence in their education. But it shouldn’t stop there. Diverse learning needs don’t disappear when students graduate. If they’ve found the right tools that work for them in education, those tools should be available to support them as they progress into the workplace.
Transition of support is essential too. Imagine walking out of school one day and going into the workplace the next and not even having access to a pen and paper. Access to inclusive technology should be just as available as these everyday tools.
Our education system is serving to make work-ready employees, and so the workplace should be ready and equipped to support them.
More and more employers are recognizing now the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace. That includes not only age, sex and ethnicity, but disability and neurodiversity. Organizations are now recognizing the talents of disabled and neurodivergent employees, who bring a unique range of skills, talents and perspectives.
With this comes awareness of the supports that enable disabled and neurodivergent populations to excel at work. For example, neurodivergent individuals may not flourish in a traditional interview format, but they still have lots to bring to the table, including the ability to approach problems from a different angle and consider innovative solutions to business challenges.
Another example is autism, which can bring the abilities of deep concentration, sequencing and fine detail processing. Highly detailed roles such as software development or coding can really benefit from the level of detail and consistent working brought by autistic employees.
Similarly, people on the dyslexia spectrum may be a good fit for careers in creative industries, due to their unique strengths in interpreting, conceptualizing and visualizing designs.
Inclusive technology is just one way we can support this transition into the world of work. Not only does it provide ongoing support for individuals to be happier and more confident in their role, but it has a knock-on productivity benefit for the whole organization.
At Texthelp, we believe that every individual deserves an equal chance to shine, at any grade level and later in the world of work.
Here are just some of the ways our tools can help:
Tools like Read&Write / Read&Write for Work have lots of features to help you focus. The screen-masking feature can massively increase concentration and reduce visual stress. Read&Write also enables you to highlight and collate keywords or phrases, making it easier to maintain focus and organize information.
Our tools offer flexibility for creating and engaging with documents. There are features to allow users to hear text read aloud (great for spotting errors in a text!) or annotate documents with voice notes. You can even convert texts into MP4 files for listening on the go.
You'll find many options for supporting self-expression in our toolkit, whether that's using your voice to dictate a math equation or leaving oral feedback in a document.