Technology and Language Disorders Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2054 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 9  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Teaching

Technology and Language Disorders

Technology has been given a major role in higher education, where the personal computer is today a necessary tool the way pen and ink once was. In the lower grades, technology has arrived in the form of various teaching devices to introduce students to concepts in arithmetic, reading, and other subjects, with programmed instruction geared to the young learner. At the secondary level, technology has also been introduced, though with less programmed instruction and with some budgetary constraints preventing the full implementation of computer technology to the degree seen in higher education. More and more, though, the schools see themselves as having a role in preparing students for the computer-oriented world they will encounter once they graduate and for the increased use of information technology in higher education as well. One of the applications of technology has been in the area of treating language disorders of various sorts, and this area continues to show promise.

Language Disorders

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Speech and language disorders involve problems in communication and related areas, such as oral motor function, and these difficulties may range from simple sound substitutions to the inability to understand or use language or to use the oral-motor mechanism for functional speech. Numerous causes have been noted for these disorders, among the, hearing loss, neurological disorders, brain injury, mental retardation, drug abuse, physical impairments such as cleft lip or palate, and vocal abuse or misuse. If the problem emerges in childhood, the child may not be able to develop language abilities to a sufficient degree to communicate with parents, peers, or teachers, creating an obstacle to learning and to normal cognitive development. The incidence of such disorders has been determined for the recent period from 1997 to 1998 as more than one million students in public schools:

Term Paper on Technology and Language Disorders Assignment

This estimate does not include children who have speech/language problems secondary to other conditions such as deafness. Language disorders may be related to other disabilities such as mental retardation, autism, or cerebral palsy. It is estimated that communication disorders (including speech, language, and hearing disorders) affect one of every 10 people in the United States (Info About Speech & Language Disorders, 2000, para. 2).

Some form of language disorder is indicated when the communication of the child places him or her significantly behind his or her peers in the acquisition of speech and/or language skills. Different classifications can be noted:

Speech disorders refer to difficulties producing speech sounds or problems with voice quality. They might be characterized by an interruption in the flow or rhythm of speech, such as stuttering, which is called dysfluency. Speech disorders may be problems with the way sounds are formed, called articulation or phonological disorders, or they may be difficulties with the pitch, volume or quality of the voice (Info About Speech & Language Disorders, 2000, para. 3).

Language disorders also have a specific definition as "an impairment in the ability to understand and/or use words in context, both verbally and nonverbally. Some characteristics of language disorders include improper use of words and their meanings, inability to express ideas, inappropriate grammatical patterns, reduced vocabulary and inability to follow directions" (Info About Speech & Language Disorders, 2000, para. 4).

Language Disorders in the Classroom

Teachers are likely to suspect language disorders when certain signs are present in the classroom, among them the following:

Inattentiveness

2. Difficulty with sequencing during manual activities

3. Inability to express thoughts on a regular basis

Difficulty in getting ideas across to the child

5. "Class clown" behavior

Extreme forgetfulness

7. Lack of communication

Coping behaviors

9. Lack of progress on instructional assessments

10. Withdrawal or exclusion from group activities

Self-expressed frustration with school tasks

12. Disjointed conversation style (Charter schools: special education, 2005).

Teachers know that students with language disorders have difficulty learning not only language but other subjects. Goulandris, Nathan, Snowling, and Stackhouse (2004) studied reading, reading comprehension, spelling, writing, and mathematics to see how these subjects affected those with speech and language disorders and found that was much curtailed.

Various treatment methods have been used by teachers. One way is for teachers to adopt the International Phonetic Alphabet, which helps children who have difficulty with the sounds of letters and letter combinations. Another approach is the traditional model of service provision, which is clinic based and has one speech and language therapist for each child. Consultation is another method used, and rather than having direct work with children, the speech and language therapist works closely with the classroom teacher, parent, or other professionals involved with the student. This approaches requires more time to be effective. Another method is called the collaborative approach under which a team consisting of the speech and language therapist, teacher, parent, key-worker, and child develop a program that will be effective to help the child. The child will then have a more effective support network (Zeff, 2005).

Support has been found for the parental deficit model of these problems, which emphasizes deficits in parental communication that potentially stem from the same underlying language problems shared with the child. Interactional skills develop in a mutually regulated parent-child system (Dunham & Dunham, 1992), and the mechanism of mutual influence and expectations based on the interactional history, are likely to be strong determinants of the interaction, along with the skills that each participant brings to the situation.

Technology and Language Disorders

Research continues on how technology can help in correcting for language disorders and speech problems of all sorts. Technology has been adapted to the needs of these students, with computer methods offering help in a variety of ways. Such assistance begins with the assessment process, as Jacobs and Coufal (2001) note when they write,

The demand for efficient, psychometrically sound, culturally and linguistically neutral tools for predicting which children are at risk for language learning disorders has increased over the last decade. Traditional screening instruments have had questionable validity for diverse populations, and culturally and linguistically sensitive, nontraditional assessment procedures typically have not been considered efficient for screening purposes... {a} pilot study... examined the effectiveness of a computerized language screening instrument for multicultural children. Results suggest that because of its computerization and language learnability features, this innovative instrument may be an effective alternative to currently available screening procedures (p. 67).

Identification is only part of the problem, and treatment can also be addressed by technology. Hasselbring and Glaser (2000) note how computers can be used for addressing the needs of these students:

For example, use of computer technology for word processing, communication, research, and multimedia projects can help the three million students with specific learning and emotional disorders keep up with their nondisabled peers. Computer technology has also enhanced the development of sophisticated devices that can assist the two million students with more severe disabilities in overcoming a wide range of limitations that hinder classroom participation -- from speech and hearing impairments to blindness and severe physical disabilities (Hasselbring & Glaser, 2000, para. 2).

One problem with these systems is that teachers are often not trained on how to use this technology effectively in their classrooms, and cost is another issue:

Thus, although computer technology has the potential to act as an equalizer by freeing many students from their disabilities, the barriers of inadequate training and cost must first be overcome before more widespread use can become a reality (Hasselbring & Glaser, 2000, para. 2).

Hasselbring and Glaser further point out some of the ways technology has been adapted to the needs of students with learning disorders. The effectiveness of these systems is enhanced by the fact that young people today are accustomed to using computers and pick up the skill rather easily. Word Processing Software offers many features that benefit these students. Word Prediction Software helps students communicate with written language more easily and reduces the number of keystrokes that are required to type words and provides assistance with spelling for students of various ability levels. Communication software enables these students to express themselves and to collaborate with others, something they may find difficult in normal situations. Specialized devices called augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices make it possible for individuals with no speech, or individuals with poor speech, to overcome their communication problems. Augmentative devices can support or enhance the speaking capability of a person. Alternative devices can replace speech as a means of communication, with such devices ranging from very low tech to very high tech, with a variety of prices. These systems also vary in terms of portability, complexity, input method, vocabulary representation format, and means of output delivery. Technologies address specific problems that may cause language disorders, such as devices that aid students who are hearing impaired or have a hearing loss that interferes with their ability to process linguistic information through auditory channels with or without amplification. Other technologies offer assistance for students with visual disabilities, such as descriptive video services (DVS), which provide narrative verbal descriptions of visual elements; synthetic and digital speech synthesizers; text-to-speech technologies; optical character recognition (OCR) technology; and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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