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Assistive Technology Makes a Difference at Kapiti College

Assistive Technology Makes a Difference at Kapiti College, New Zealand

SYDNEY, Australia, 19 September 2017 – The range of aids and technology now available to help students with a disability learn and boost their self-esteem has flourished, and is making a difference in schools in New Zealand.

Assistive technology lets students with a physical or learning difficulty complete tasks they could not normally do, or allows them to do tasks better, and to work in mainstream classes.

Kapiti College is experiencing considerable success with assistive technology. The College is a year 9-13 school located in Paraparaumu, Wellington, and has about 150 students with dyslexia.

Dyslexic students have difficulty with words and experience trouble with reading, spelling and writing.

As the number of dyslexic students increased at the school, it looked closely at the various assistive technologies available to help make learning easier for students.

‘While we were exploring our options, I came across an online article about the success that Sacred Heart College in Auckland was having with speech-to-text software, so we decided to take a closer look,’ said Kapiti College Principal, Tony Kane.

Tony found Nuance’s Dragon speech recognition software an ideal solution to assist the students. ‘It’s fast, has no problem adapting to accents, is highly accurate with technical language and is very easy to use.’

Dragon allows students to simply talk to create content and command a computer. Rather than focus on typing and spelling, it lets students with dyslexia concentrate on content so that they can do their homework, complete assignments and essays, type up notes, and so forth.

The College purchased 11.6-inch netbooks, loaded Dragon onto these, and made the computers available in its Year 9, 10 and 11 dyslexic classes. The software is also accessible via what the College has dubbed ‘Dragon Dens’ – colour-coded spaces or rooms where students can find additional Dragon computers. Teachers book these rooms when the students need to complete assessments or students can book themselves in.

‘Over 100 of our dyslexic students have now been trained on Dragon and we’ve found that while it doesn’t suit some, the vast majority have adapted fine.

‘Their levels of usage vary widely - from occasional to very regular. For many of our regular users, they are producing work and evidence of learning of a quality which is far beyond their pre-Dragon days,’ says Tony.

The Education and Science Select Committee also noted the assistive technology’s success. ‘Last year, we hosted the Education and Science Select Committee who were following up on a visit by our dyslexic kids. As part of the morning, we took them to see students working in the Dragon Dens. They were surprised both at the relatively low cost of this assistive technology and the work that the kids were producing,’ said Tony.

‘We also used Dragon in our mid-year trial in 2016 for Special Assessment Condition (SAC) students in the Digital Pilot of Level 1 English, Media and French. Dragon worked perfectly in this, though we were not able to use it in the final exams. However, NZQA have since been working on this and a small number of SAC students will be able to use Dragon for some exams this year as part of a three-school trial.

‘At Kapiti, there’s no doubt that Dragon has greatly helped students with their learning, and along the way, boosted their confidence and self-esteem,’ he added.

More information on Nuance Dragon is available at:

http://dragonpro.com.au/assistive-technology/


ENDS


About Nuance Communications, Inc.

Nuance Communications, Inc. is a leading provider of voice and language solutions for businesses and consumers around the world. Its technologies, applications and services make the user experience more compelling by transforming the way people interact with devices and systems. Every day, millions of users and thousands of businesses experience Nuance’s proven applications. For more information, please visit www.nuance.com

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