8 learning apps for students with special needs

An abrupt move to home-based learning is especially hard for students with special needs--but these resources may help ease the transition

Millions of students have transitioned to online learning over the past month as a health pandemic sweeps the globe. While that transition is easy for some students, many–including students with special needs–find it difficult.

Teachers have done, and are still doing, a fantastic job moving their instruction online, ensuring students without devices or home internet have access to school-provided resources or can obtain paper copies. Many districts are also weaving mental health services and SEL into core instruction to help students process their new learning reality.

Related content: 6 fun resources for at-home learning

Students with special needs may be missing their regular routines and resources, but there are a number of apps and online tools that can help parents and caregivers fill the gaps as much as possible while a return to face-to-face learning remains undecided.

These apps can be especially helpful for parents looking for easy-to-access resources in the midst of helping their children adjust to learning at home.

The Teen and Adult Phonics (TAP) Library offers a growing collection of sequential, decodable digital novels with edgy, engaging themes designed to appeal to teenagers and adults. Care has been taken to build a positive experience for older emergent readers, especially those with SpLD such as dyslexia, ASD or ADHD.

Dyslexic students use Omoguru for fluency practice in an enjoyable way. The app supports school and independent reading needs of every dyslexic student ages 10 – 16 but also works great for adults. What’s the secret? Visually comfortable font system and tools designed to make the text more readable. Research proves it reduces reading time, mistakes, and mental effort.

The Writing Machine is designed to start introducing your child to these pre-literacy concepts of print, text, reading and writing. The Writing Machine starts this process by introducing how one picture and one word go together. From this foundation, your child will begin to understand additional pre-literacy concepts including how to read text from left to right and to tell words from letters.

Autism iHelp is a teaching aid developed by parents of a child with Autism and a speech-language pathologist. Autism iHelp was inspired by the need for specific language intervention tools for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder focusing on their unique strengths and difficulty with expressive vocabulary.

Proloquo2Go is definitely pricey, but it’s a powerful and comprehensive app for people with autism. Tap images. Type words. Speak. Proloquo2Go is an easy to use communication app for people who cannot speak or need help being understood. Featuring natural sounding voices, including real children’s voices, Proloquo2Go is a simple yet powerful AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) tool. The app is fully customizable and can be utilized to build language skills and grow with a person’s communication, supporting both beginning and advanced communicators.

i Create… Social Skills Stories is an application with the ability to totally customize sequential steps of a story line for individuals that need help building their social skills. The app is designed to make unlimited personalized social skill story books by importing personal photos, adding titles, text and audio to unlimited pages into your own story. All the books can be re-arranged in an order specific to daily routines. In addition, all the pages in the books can be re-arranged or hidden in the setting section to allow for changes to each of the story lines.

TapTapSee is a mobile camera application designed specifically for blind and visually impaired users, powered by the CloudSight Image Recognition API. TapTapSee utilizes your device’s camera and VoiceOver functions to take a picture or video of anything and identify it out loud for you.

AccessNote is the official iOS notetaker from the American Foundation for the Blind. AccessNote is the first notetaker for the iOS platform designed particularly for VoiceOver users looking for a highly efficient, feature-rich note taking experience. In addition to being a low cost alternative to traditional note takers, AccessNote will allow users to combine efficient note taking with the countless other features and functions of the iOS devices. This will allow blind and visually impaired people in classroom or business settings to use the same popular iOS devices that their sighted peers are using.

Laura Ascione