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Assistive Technologies In College Settings

By July 4, 2022July 19th, 2022Achieve Program

As assistive technology in education becomes more sophisticated and widely available, more students are able to take advantage of it. This includes students with learning differences, who can use assistive technology (AT) to meet challenges in classroom environments. Assistive technology can be used with or without additional behavioral strategies to aid students in school and work. ATs are becoming increasingly popular in college settings, with schools like Villa Maria supporting their use to meet unique learning needs.

Villa Maria makes ATs available as a part of our Achieve Program, available to students in any major or academic program who have a learning difference or learning disability. Making the latest AT available can be an important part of supporting students with learning differences throughout their academic careers. Let’s take a look at popular ATs and how they can be deployed in various learning environments.

Audio recorders

Students have long used recording devices to navigate the challenge of taking written notes in class. Doing so allows them to focus on listening to the lecture and write down its most important contents later for future study. It’s a strategy that helps reduce the heavy mental workload of listening to a proctor while also taking notes.

But using recording devices requires the time investment of re-listening to a lecture. For those who live with attention, auditory processing, or reading differences, this is a substantial obstacle.

College students can benefit from a new technology called smart pens that can help make taking notes and recording key information easier. Students in our Achieve Program have access to OneNote’s Livescribe, a digital pen with features that support note-taking. It also automatically stores and uploads notes to the cloud so notes on paper aren’t lost. It synchronizes notes and lecture audio for later clarity and understanding.

Sensory spaces

Students living with learning differences can be more sensitive to external stimuli than other people. Elements like lighting, chair firmness, and outside noise can all be very disruptive. But when properly managed, students can thrive even with these challenges. Achieve students have access to facilities that minimize these disruptions with modified seating, headphones, and light dimmers. These spaces are also a great place to spend time with other Achieve students!


Effective time management is key for any student or professional. Anyone can struggle with it from time to time. But those with learning differences often struggle with time management more than others. While it may seem simplistic, timers can be an effective assistive technology. Timers provide feedback about how you are spending your time and can act as an insightful metric for one’s own behavior.

Digital and cloud-based timers are becoming more sophisticated and easier to use. This makes them optimal for students with learning differences. Timer apps can be used anywhere and include notifications to help students use them in different learning environments. Newer timers also include automatic features that stop and start recording automatically when specific actions occur on a device. Some of these applications also include visualization tools to help compare timed sessions and chart progress towards time management goals. Students in Villa’s Achieve Program can meet with advisors and counselors to learn time management strategies and time-keeping methods to further enhance the use of these applications.