Special Apps for Special Needs

Using Mobile Devices with Limited English Proficient/Special Education Students

More and more school districts are investigating the use of mobile devices such as the iPad to facilitate learning and instruction for LEP/ELLs in Special Education settings. As K -12 teachers continue to adopt 21st century learning models, curiosity is growing over the integration of mobile devices into the classroom and the practical applications of these new tools.

LEP/ELL students with special education needs present a distinct challenge: how are the language needs met while also addressing various required learning accommodations? One of the key reasons why teachers are exploring mobile devices is that they provide ways to differentiate content and accommodate a variety of learning needs and styles.  This is especially true when planning instruction based on the unique needs of a special education student as delineated in his or her IEP. Educators are discovering that mobile devices come with wealth of applications that assist struggling learners and many of these devices have built in accessibility options. 

The number of quality educational applications continues to grow daily.  These apps can be downloaded onto an iPhone, iTouch, iPad as well as any Android device.  Let’s take a look at just a few of the apps that make mobile devices so unique and so useful for LEP/ELL Special Education students.

Here is a list of applications that are designed for use in Special Education settings:

IEP Checklist -Provides a list of items (with description and ed code) to complete for an IEP

Proloquo2Go Full AAC solution with over 7000 symbols, natural sounding voices, automatic conjugation, and more.

DAF Assistant Delayed auditory feedback and frequency shifting to help improve stuttering.

Sign 4 Me With more than 11,500 words in the library, you can learn signed English from a 3D avatar.

Sign Smith ASL With more than 1,200 signs, you can learn American Sign Language from a 3D avatar.

iCommunicate Pre-loaded pictures and storyboards/routines (e.g.,schedule) facilitate language comprehension.

Other Classroom Management Tools:

iReward With this motivation chart, choose the behavior, the reward from your camera or photos, and optional praise.

Dragon Search Voice recognition to speak, see and edit your text, then search on Google, YouTube, Wikipedia, iTunes, & Twitter.

iWriteWords In easy or regular mode, trace numbers, lowercase and uppercase letters using numbered prompts.

MindMeister Create, view, and edit mind maps, then share them to a website to view and edit further.


  1. […] Special Apps for Special NeedsAug 11, 2011 Here is a list of applications that are designed for use in Special Education settings: IEP Checklist […]

  2. Janice says:

    Thanks for your list of Apps for ELL. I’m now exploring your site and the possibilities. I hope to learn how to create apps myself on special topics. I could use a bibliography and summaries of books or websites on this topic– on how to build apps– such as *Designing with the Mind in Mind: A simple guide to understanding User interface and design rules* and *100 Things Ever designer needs to know about People* and “Designing for the digital Are*. It so happens that several are available at the library.

    On a related topic. I’d like to see reviews of new research that is critical of how technology is being used to control the learning process and the learner. Will it reduce education to a game with easily stored quantification or learning experiences? Can critical media studies and critical thinking keep up with a trivializing game psychology that seems at times like a throwback to the 1950s? TESOL is already quite hegemonic and the critical voice should be part of the technology dialogue. I think I can connect you on this topic if you are interested.

    Best to you and thank you for this site.


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