The Assistive Technology Lab at Trident Academy, a nationally recognized K5-12 school for students with learning differences, is consistently used as an example or resource for other educators. Librarians from independent schools in the Charleston region recently toured the lab and received a demonstration from Mary Silgals, director of Trident Academy’s assistive technology program. Silgals has given numerous tours of the lab and has presented at several regional conferences.
Assistive technology is software and hardware that helps students compensate for a learning disability and enables them to avoid the frustration that often accompanies learning. Access to the lab and instruction from Silgals is included in tuition for all Trident Academy students.
“Other educators are intrigued by how the lab is used and the changes we are seeing in students,” Silgals says. “It is amazing to see the difference in student’s confidence and comprehension after we’ve implemented assistive technology. Plus, thanks to private funding, we’ll soon be adding iPads to the lab, which I think will really change how students with learning differences learn.”
All Trident Academy teachers support the use of assistive technology in their classes, which is not the case in most schools (students are forced to learn and use the software only at home). Several Trident Academy students bring laptop computers to all their classes and each is loaded with software that assists the student throughout the day. Others use special pens or other technology throughout the day.
Besides being unique in the state, Trident Academy’s assistive technology program is also one of the most comprehensive in the United States. Students are evaluated on their reading, writing, organization and study skills, and then technology is recommended in each of these areas. Each student has an individual plan and his or her progress is monitored.
Silgals hopes to expand opportunities for Middle and Upper School students for the 2012-13 academic year.
For more information, contact Mary Silgals, M.Ed., MLIS at 843.884.7046 or firstname.lastname@example.org.