Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Technology and Emergent Literacy

Assistive Technology can be defined as "any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities." (National Institute of Standards and Technology).  Using this definition, it includes a broad range of devices, from objects to switch-activated toys and materials, from a light box to a computer or an iPad.



Image of Dr. Seuss ABC app.
iPad Apps for Children with Visual Impairments
This section of the WonderBaby site looks at apps out that might help children communicate, develop finger dexterity, learn about cause and effect and just have fun.  Examples are given of ways in which  iPad apps to facilitate learning in children with low vision and other visual impairments.  Many specific apps are reviewed, such as Tickle Finger, Big Trace, Dr. Seuss' ABC and Peekaboo Barn.

The page on iPad Accessibility offers information on options for users with low vision, motor challenges, hearing loss, and others.

Eric Jerman on Accessible iPad Apps
Eric Jerman shares ideas on educational activities for children with Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) using an iPad.


Assistive Technology and Emergent Literacy for Preschoolers:  A Literature Review
By Kimberly Kris Floyd, Lora Lee Smith Canter, Tara Jeffs, and Sharon A. Judge;  In Assistive Technology Outcomes and Benefits; Vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 92-102 (Fall 2008)

Despite the legislative mandate for assistive technology (AT) consideration and the tenacity of researchers, educators, and practitioners to develop more proficient readers at younger ages, cohesive and comprehensive emergent literacy technology planning had not been sufficiently developed for preschool children with disabilities.  The purpose of this review is to synthesize information and research on available AT used with young children to promote the development of emergent literacy skills.  Following the background discussion, key articles are summarized synthesized, and critiqued.  Discussion focuses on the lack of empirical research in the combined areas of emergent literacy, AT, and preschool children; the need for conceptualized definitions of AT and emergent literacy across disciplines; existing barriers; and gaps in the research.

The Digital World of Young Children: Emergent Literacy
2010 Consortium for School Networking  International Symposium

This white paper takes a first look at the everyday world of digital tools and media in the lives of three- to five-year-old children, with a particular focus on non-intentional learning opportunities. It begins a discussion about how digital media learning opportunities, including non-intentional opportunities such as cell phones and video games, when combined with intentional learning opportunities such as educational television or computers, may be affecting emergent literacy skills development.

Emerging Literacy Through Assistive Technology
By Jennifer Beck; Teaching Exceptional Children. (2002) Vol. 35, No. 2, pp. 44-48.

This article discuses how assistive technology affected the emergent literacy of 10 preschoolers (age 3) with multiple disabilities. The children used picture communication symbols, adapted books, a Big Mac switch, and a computer with Intellikeys, Intellipics, and Overlay Maker, alternative keyboard, and software. The benefits to the children are described.

Using Electronic Books in the Classroom to Enhance Emergent Literacy Skills in Young Children
Journal of Literacy and Technology 22, Vol. 11, No.4: November 2010

The use of e-storybooks in early childhood classrooms seems to be a growing trend. Educators are interested in the use of reading technologies to support young emergent readers especially those who are at risk for reading failure. E-storybooks allow children to read and listen to a book while obtaining emergent literacy supports including digital features (e.g., animations, word pronunciations, etc.). Many of these books are commercially available to educators and parents and they allow children opportunities to read independently, even when they lack foundational reading skills. Despite the growing popularity of e-storybooks, there continues to be a lack of evidence literature to explain the extent to which electronic books support children’s emergent literacy development. This article examines current research on e-storybooks and provides suggestions about how educators can use critical evidence to better support young struggling readers in early childhood classrooms when using e-storybooks.