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Smartphones as Assistive Technology

Student Showcase

by Joshua Ruiz, Student, CLE Davie

Joshua Ruiz of CLE DavieAssistive Technology is changing the world for individuals with special or diverse needs. With advanced technology vastly improving, individuals-including neurotypicals-use this modern, advanced technology for everyday tasks such as phone calls, messaging, email, Facebook, and Twitter. But some individuals with disabilities have a hard time using technology. One of my friends, Abel, has cerebral palsy and he is not able to communicate or move at all. He uses a special device that has a button on the head of his chair. When he moves his head he is able to communicate with others but it is also difficult for him to use this equipment. He uses all of his effort to control this system, which is incredible.

Most individuals have a smart phone. But you might not realize, you have such a useful piece of assistive technology in your pocket. Applications on the iPhone or the Android can help an individual with certain tasks such as giving reminders, checking their calendar daily, and taking notes. I chose four apps that help an individual with their daily lives. These apps are the iPhone Clock, the iPhone Calendar, Google Translate, and Verbally.

iPhone Clock

iPhone StopwatchThe first feature on this app the alarm, which allows you to put in the time you want to wake up in the morning, and this is the number one feature for people who can’t wake up by themselves. The next feature is the stopwatch, which allows you to time yourself on how long you take a shower, or how fast it takes you to run a mile. The last feature is the timer, which is another frequently used feature. Like the stopwatch, this app can time an individual on how fast they take to do a certain task, but there’s a limit, and once it’s gone the person has to be done.

iPhone Calendar

iPhone CalendarWith iPhone Calendar, you can place your daily routines and set your important appointments.

Google Translate.

Google Translate AppOnline and on your smartphone or tablet, this app helps you translate your language to another language. Some of this is not completely accurate, so make sure you talk to someone that knows the language so they can help you fix the mistakes. I frequently translate from English to Spanish because I have family who speaks Spanish and sometimes I don’t understand them.


Verbally AppVerbally is an augmentative and alternative communication app (AAC), which allows individuals with disabilities to communicate with people though their iPad. This app is free. If you want more out of this app there is a premium version with a lot of different features for only $99.99. If you like free, then I definitely recommend this app.

Technology is rapidly changing in many areas. What used to be specialized applications for specific populations is being used more and more by everyone. As this continues, the users of these applications will no longer be seen as people with special needs, but rather just savvy tech users…like us!

Newsletter Articles – February 2016

Joan Green

Joan Green is a licensed and certified Speech-Language Pathologist, and founder of Innovative Speech Therapy. She is a nationally recognized expert on assistive technology and author of several books, including The Ultimate Guide to Assistive Technology in Special Education: Resources for Education, Intervention and Rehabilitation, 2nd Edition. I recently had the opportunity to discuss the benefits of assistive technology and new developments in the field with Joan.

Video games can teach social skills

Like it or not, the appearance and methodology of socialization are changing in our kids and young adults. As technology becomes a greater part of our everyday lives, it makes sense that our everyday practices may be influenced both negatively and positively by its tremendous pull. Video games were first popularized when I was a young child; however, they were an activity that was by and large used in free time while parents encouraged their children to engage in more “constructive activities,” such as social play.

These days, gaming is more intricately entwined with socialization. All “next generation” systems have modalities to play remotely with other users, game publishers are taking advantage of social gaming by publishing more games that give clear advantages to people who play with others, and more group-based games are being published. The boundary between socialization and gaming is becoming less and less clear, and we as professionals and parents need to evolve along with technology if we truly want to impact students on the autism spectrum or with other special needs in a positive way.

Savannah at CLE Costa Mesa

Assistive technology is a tool used by many individuals in the world, which has an astounding amount of advantages to the support it provides. Not only does this technology serve useful to the general public, but especially the autism spectrum population. It allows individuals on the spectrum to communicate with those around them by assisting them in their communication and socialization skills. It also helps with many executive functioning aspects such as organizing, planning, problem solving, etc. Assistive technology is truly an amazing platform that serves multiple purposes throughout people’s lives.

The pros and cons of video games and their impact on social development.

Parents, have you ever walked in while your child was playing a video game and thought, “They are just wasting brain cells?” Students, as gamers have you ever thought, “I just have to make it past this level,” and refused to give up until you beat it? Are there arguments for both of these scenarios being reasonable? We are going to look further into the world of gaming.

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This has been a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future. You may also click here to read the original article on the main program website.