Chalkboards and basic whiteboards are out, and taking their place are interactive whiteboards, called smartboards. In fact, smartboards are making learning accessible for kids with disabilities.
Smartboards are visual learning tools. So, you might find yourself wondering how they are making learning accessible for kids with disabilities. In this article, we explore how smartboards help students who are:
- Visually impaired
- Physically impaired
- Learning disabled
What is a Smartboard?
A smartboard functions as both a whiteboard and a computer screen. That is to say, it allows users to project and interact with images on the screen while also letting them write on the board.
Smartboard displays connect to computers. As with regular computers, users create displays using a keyboard and a mouse. There are also programs that help teachers create smartboard lessons. Programs have many functions, such as:
- Text to speech
- Speech to text
- Stock image and icon packages
- Shapes builders
Smartboards and Visual Impairments
Smartboards are very visual. For this reason, some people may believe that they are not suited for kids with vision impairments. On the contrary, they are great at making learning accessible for learners who are visually impaired or Blind. For example, smartboards can read text aloud. As well, screen splitting is also an option for kids with low vision. In this setup, students can view displays on their own monitors so they can magnify text and images.
Additionally, kids who are Blind can use Braille displays to follow along with smartboard lessons. Braille displays connect to smartboards using compatible software. They work best when the teacher prepares lessons and types text and captions in advance. But, teachers are still able to ad-lib during lessons and handwrite notes or add pictures. They simply need to be ready to be able to:
- Read the handwritten parts aloud
- Describe pictures
- Have tactile diagrams made
Smartboards and Physical Impairments
Smartboards are interactive. Kids are encouraged to point to, touch, and move images around the screen. Indeed, they are making learning accessible by allowing for different ways to interact with lesson content. For instance:
- Styluses can be created using tennis balls and paper towel rolls. They are large and easy to grip, so pointing and touching does not require high precision.
- They can be positioned at accessible heights where all children can approach them. Keep the area free from clutter for students who use mobility devices.
- Teachers can guide students through smartboard activities using the hand-over-hand technique.
- Students who cannot hold pens can write and interact with content using the finger-touch capability.
Smartboards and Learning Disabilities
When it comes to learning disabilities, smartboards make a difference. They give teachers options when it comes to how to present lessons. A smartboard offers many benefits to learners with impairments, such as:
- Increased attention
- Interactive learning
- All learning styles addressed (visual, kinetic, and auditory)
- Ability to move and be active
- Increased lesson retention
A smartboard is just a big screen. And kids love screens! So, some kids do not even realize they are learning when they are participating in smartboard lessons. Smartboards are making learning accessible and fun in classrooms!