b'Life-Changing TechnologyFor many of us, assistive technology is notWith close to 1,500 learners in LRSD who could something were familiar with, but for 24 LRSDbe classified as having a reading/writing learning learners over a six-month period, it has been adisability, LRSD is responding to an existing need tool that has changed their lives. and trying to reduce the barriers that exist for these learners. If we do not make it our work, Assistive technology is about providing learninglearners with various learning challenges have a equity in the classroom that allows all learners,limited ability to demonstrate their independence including those with a variety of learningand autonomy that, in turn, results in decreasedJanet Young and Chelsea Smith, LRSD teachers, challenges, to express themselves and shareengagement, an increased risk of dropping out andwith Payton Young from cole Van Belleghem, working with Microsoft Learning Tools (Dictation) with their teacher and peers what they havean impact on mental health. during the assistive technology pilot project.learned. Robert George, School Psychologist, and Lisa Tymchuk, an Occupational Therapist,Exploring how assistive technology haspositively initiated and drove this project as part of LRSDsimpacted learner access to curriculumandhas commitment to fostering inclusion. This meanscontributedto building inclusive classroomManytechnologytools have our school communities need to create learningcommunities was something we were verybeentestedin thepastbutwerenot successful.environments and provide resources andinterested in researching, says Nicole Maynard,What we needed were toolsthat couldbe implemented services that respond to the cognitive, social,Student Services Coordinator and part of the teamand supportedunderour collective LRSD umbrella, and emotional needs of all learners.Providingthat developed the pilot project. When assistivesaid Clarke Hagan, Director of Information Systems, learners with the required adaptations totechnology has been introduced and supported inanother member of the team who initiated the pilot achieve access to curriculumrequired LRSD toclassrooms, the results have been a game changerproject. We neededsomethingthatwasaccessibleWe are alsothink about the barriers that currently exist. for many teachers and learners.to all, comprehensive andrequiredminimal training and Microsoft OneNote with dictate and an immersiveseeing a positive In basic terms, learning challenges such asIn January 2019, The LRSD assistive technologyreader with a multitude of features was the best learning disabilities, are brain-based difficultiespilot project was created through a collaborativesolution to our learners needs. social-emotional that affect one or more ways that a personeffort between clinicians, Student Services, takes in, stores, recalls or uses verbal andclassroom teachers, and Information SystemsResearch suggests that to engage and motivateimpact that is as nonverbal information. Learning disabilitiespersonnel. The pilot would leverage Microsoftstruggling learners, the focus needs to be are difficulties in processing information, andLearning Tools to create an equitable learningoninstructional strategies and modes of delivery andimportant as the they occur despite average or above averageenvironment for all learners. It ran from Januarythe results of the pilot project are quite encouraging. thinking and reasoning abilities. They canto June in both official languages and included 24 interfere with learning basic skills such aslearners from seven schools in Grades 3 to 8 withWe are seeing direct evidence that it is impacting theirimprovement to reading, writing, and math as well as higher a primary focus on assisting learners with readingachievement scores in reading and writing.When we level skills such as organization, timeand writing. The pilot project included learners withcompare these scores prior to this pilot and to after,report card grades, management and social communication skills. dyslexia or difficulty in expressing what theyvemany show significant improvements in their report learned in written form. card grades, said Hagan.said Hagan.20 21'