Assistive technology has been used to mitigate reading disabilities for almost three decades, and tablets with text-to-speech and speech-to-text apps have been introduced in recent years to scaffold reading and writing. Few scientifically rigorous studies, however, have investigated the benefits of this technology.
The aim was to explore the effects of assistive technology for students with severe reading disabilities.
This study included 149 participants. The intervention group received 24 sessions of assistive technology training, and the control group received treatment as usual.
Both the intervention and control groups improved as much in 1 year as the normed population did. However, gains did not differ between the groups directly after the intervention or at 1 year of follow-up.
The use of assistive technology seems to have transfer effects on reading ability and to be supportive, especially for students with the most severe difficulties. In addition, it increases motivation for overall schoolwork. Our experience also highlights the obstacles involved in measuring the ability to assimilate and communicate text.