A pair of glasses for students with learning disabilities

Rimouski - “Computing for a child with a learning disability is like a pair of glasses. This is how Brigitte Sirois, remedial teacher at the Commission scolaire des Phares, explains to young people, their parents and their teachers, the contribution of technological aids to students with learning disabilities.

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Rimouski - “Computing for a child with a learning disability is like a pair of glasses. This is how Brigitte Sirois, remedial teacher at the Commission scolaire des Phares, explains to young people, their parents and their teachers, the contribution of technological aids to students with learning disabilities.

Just as people with a visual impairment need glasses, people with a learning disability need technological aids to compensate for their difficulties. "It is a permanent tool that they need to meet the demands of learning, particularly in writing," specifies Ms. Sirois. They may also need it for reading and reading comprehension.

But be careful, warns Ms. Sirois, do not confuse learning disabilities with learning difficulties. A learning difficulty is recoverable. Gradually, "the student will regain complete control of his learning," she explains. This temporary difficulty may be due to an illness, an emotional problem, etc.

In contrast, a learning disability is permanent. “The neurological disorder will remain for life, but the child will be able to improve his lot. He has the same intellectual potential as the others. "

Thanks to technological aids, students will have more control over their learning. "The student sees his progress when he uses the software continuously," says Ms. Sirois. This has a positive impact on his self-esteem and on his motivation. "I have seen students go from an absolutely apathetic demotivation to a really more important motivation," says the remedial teacher.

Educate the student, teacher and parent
As part of an effective intervention, students must acquire a deep awareness of their learning disability and related difficulties. To do this, Brigitte Sirois invites the dyslexic student to write a letter explaining his situation to his teacher and his parents.

The youngest give a PowerPoint presentation in front of their class. "It takes all the guilt away from them for not being like the others," she says.

As learning disabilities are hereditary, the objective is also to "make parents feel guilty". "Children and parents are familiar with computers, it remains to educate them so that they use it according to their problem", suggests Ms. Sirois.

In addition, a better understanding of learning disabilities and technological aids by teachers improves the educational support of the student. However, Ms. Sirois observes that some teachers find it difficult to accept the use of technological aids during exams, despite ministerial authorization, because they perceive it as unfair for other students.
In this regard, she repeats her comparison with a student who has a problem with his eyesight. "Are we going to take his glasses off during an assessment?" She says.

Specific tools
Brigitte Sirois works with elementary and preschool students who are disabled or have learning disabilities. These students are integrated into the regular classes of the Commission scolaire des Phares.

Ms. Sirois uses the WordQ writing assistance software a lot with dyspraxic, dyslexic or dysorthographic students. Its two main functions are word prediction and text to speech.

Inspiration software allows students with dyslexia or dysphasia to visually organize their ideas. For example, the student will put a novel or a text in pictures in order to extract the relevant information or to constitute a summary.

The Antidote corrector is useful for students who have difficulty orienting themselves in space. For example, a student having difficulty finding his or her orientation in a usual dictionary performs a faster and more functional search with the virtual dictionary.

Audacity software is a reading aid for dyslexic or dysphasic pupils. The pupil records his voice during a first reading, then listens to himself again by increasing the reading speed. This second listening allows him to concentrate on understanding the text instead of paying all his attention to decoding the syllables.

In addition, "the majority of children with a learning disability also have a fine motor problem," reports Ms. Sirois. Thus, typing on the keyboard becomes "much less energy intensive" than writing with a pencil.

By Elsa Iskander

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About the Author

Martine Rioux
Martine Rioux
After studying public communication, Martine worked as a journalist for various publications, before pursuing her career as an interactive communications consultant at La Capitale, a financial group, then at Québec Numérique, an organization she took over as general manager before making the jump. as political advisor in the office of the Minister for Digital Government Transformation. Today she is the online Editor-in-Chief and Special Projects Manager at l'École branchée. Her dream: that everyone has access to technology and can use it as a tool for learning and opening up to the world.

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