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Special needs kids using mainstream apps as adaptive technology

A screen shot of a few favorite apps
A screen shot of a few favorite apps
Tracy Lynn Cook

Parents of special needs kids are not strangers to modifying tasks to help their children succeed. The need to to favor their child's strengths while minimizing their weaknesses becomes second nature. The desire for children to "fit in" and "blend" becomes more important as children become teens.

Technology has never been easier to incorporate into the use adaptive technology while still blending in with "typical" peers. Think how easily Siri (voice recognition on the iPhone 4S) captured our collective imagination, and how common place voice recognition technology has become. Its use has gone from odd to cool in the blink of Siri's artificial eye.

Voice recognition programs can be beneficial for anyone who thinks faster than they write, has trouble typing, or has physical limitations of any kind. Speaking one's thoughts and having them accurately translated into text can reduce frustration while freeing up time and energy for tackling other tasks.

In addition to iPhone's Siri, there are many quality options for voice recognition programs and apps that are mainstream enough to be cool, while being functional enough to be considered "adaptive technology" for someone with writing challenges.

A few of them that have been tested by a discriminating Gilbert home schooling mom are:

Great for texting, emailing, and updating facebook

Dragon Dictation
Great for taking notes - but has a 30 second limitation (which is odd)

Voice Assist
A "cleaner" version of Vlingo and a solid note dictation app.

Voice memos (native app that comes with iPod touch and iPhone devices)

Assistant (speaktoit)
A Siri-like app that does a little bit of everything and has a custom avatar

A browser app that can be upgraded to become voice activated

A great Siri-like option

These apps can be used for a wide range of activities such as taking notes, dictating reminders, posting updates to Facebook, texting, and searching the Internet via voice commands.

While the search for quality apps began with a quest for making her child's life easier and were incorporated into daily activities as a way to model their use for her son - a few of the apps have made their way into the Gilbert mom's favorite app folder on her own iPhone.


Tracy Lynn Cook is a writer in Gilbert, Arizona. She is active on Facebook, Twitter, or contact her via email at


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