Assistive technology as reading interventions for children with reading impairments with a one-year follow-up

Disabil Rehabil Assist Technol. 2017 Oct;12(7):713-724. doi: 10.1080/17483107.2016.1253116. Epub 2016 Dec 7.


Purpose: This pilot study investigated the possible transfer effect on reading ability in children with reading difficulties after a systematic intervention to train and compensate for reading deficiencies by using applications in smartphones and tablets. The effects of using assistive technology (AT) one year after the interventions were completely studied. School related motivation, independent learning and family relations were also considered.

Method: 35 pupils aged 10-12 years participated. They were assessed five times with reading tests. The participants, their parents and teachers were surveyed with questionnaires regarding their experience of using AT. The data from the assessments were analyzed with paired t-tests and Wilcoxon signed-rank tests. The data from the questionnaires were analyzed using content analysis.

Results: The paper shows that using AT can create transfer effects on reading ability one year after the interventions were finished. This means that reading impaired children may develop at the same rate as non-impaired readers. Also, increased school motivation and an increase in independent learning and family effects have been shown.

Conclusions: This paper provides implications in how to facilitate reading impaired pupils' learning process and realizes the need to challenge the concept of reading to change to fit modern means of gaining information. Implications for rehabilitation Children with reading impairment could benefit from assistive technology in regards of their reading development process and increase their chances of not falling behind peers. Assistive technology as applications in smartphones and tablets may aid children with reading impairment to have an equal platform for learning in school as their peers without reading difficulties. Assistive technology could facilitate the information gaining process and subsequently increase motivation to learn and increase interest in reading activities. Assistive technology had wider effects on its users: stigmatizing situations when leaving the classroom for special education were avoided and positive effects on family life were noted.

Keywords: Assistive technology; dyslexia; independent learning; reading development; reading impairment; school motivation; smartphone; tablets.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Computers, Handheld*
  • Disabled Children / rehabilitation*
  • Dyslexia / rehabilitation
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Learning Disabilities / rehabilitation*
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Reading
  • Self-Help Devices*