Impact of Assistive Technology Devices and Services for Students with Learning Disabilities and an Academic Need in Writing

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


This study explored the impact of assistive technology (AT) devices and services on 165 students (134 male, 31 female) with learning disabilities who had needs in the academic area of writing. Outcomes data collected through the Assistive Technology Infusion Project (ATIP) were analyzed to explore demographics of students in this population, relationships between various factors on writing goals, and differences in contributions of various interventions prior to and after attainment of the AT devices. Two classifications of AT devices were developed for use in this study. The first was used to determine the most common AT devices used (word prediction software, 63; laptop computers, 52; portable word processors, 41; proofreading and editing software, 39; speech synthesis/screen review software, 35; and hand held spell check/grammar check devices, 32). The second taxonomy was used for comparison of variables. The most common AT services provided to students were training for students, followed by training for educational personnel, device programming and set-up, and classroom implementation support. Significant changes were noted in student ability (p< .001) and change in rate of progress (p< .001) following attainment of AT. In addition, significant positive relationships were observed between change in ability and number of AT services provided (p< .01), change in ability and change in rate of progress (p< .001), and number of AT services and change in rate of progress (p= .01). Finally, significant changes were also found in nine of the ten contributions of parallel interventions, with contribution of previous AT devices and services increasing the most following implementation of the new AT devices received.

This study demonstrated efficacy for use of interventions incorporating AT devices and services in school settings for students with LD and needs in writing. Word processors and word processors in combination with writing software were the most helpful in improving abilities of these students. Support for AT services used in combination with AT devices was also provided in this study.

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