Integrating iPads into your Special Education Classroom (Auckland Day 1) – WORKSHOP HANDOUT

Customising the iPad to accommodate the needs of diverse learners

For students with diverse learning needs including students with special education needs, students with learning and literacy difficulties and students for whom English is not their first language technology can play a key role in removing barriers, differentiating instruction and providing tools to accommodate their learning needs and access to the school curriculum. During this workshop we explored the range of options using an iPad to assist teachers to optimize and differentiate student learning, and to support student engagement.

iPad Basics


More accessibility information via the Spectronics Blog:

iOS-6 Logo
Accessibility Icon

Alternative Access


Additional accessories such as durable cases, speakers, mounts, switch interfaces, keyguards and styluses can also help to make the iPad more accessible for your students. A range of links for these can be found on our Accessories Page

Determining which apps are appropriate

Assessment and Making informed decisions

Assessment and appropriate technology selection is essential to ensure we are addressing the specific needs of individual students. The selection of apps and the implementation of the iPad into the classroom should always be aligned to identified individual educational plan goals and targeted curriculum outcomes for students.

In addition to the curriculum assessment processes a school employs, other frameworks are also available to assist in making informed decisions concerning the implementation of the iPad and associated apps.

Evaluation Rubrics for Selecting Apps

To assist in this decision making process, checkout these two blogs by Katie Lyon:

Adding content to your iPads to support students in special education classrooms

Special Education classrooms are busy and changeable places, and finding the right apps that can work to enhance the curriculum outcomes for students is important. This section will cover apps across a wide range of ages and ability levels to maximise the learning for those students with disabilities in our Special education classrooms.

Disclaimer for the apps we show:
The apps we demonstrate in today’s workshop and highlight in this resource are just some of the many available! We are by no means saying that these are the only apps within each category that you should consider, as each app should be evaluated according to the assessment processes and framework identified above.

Cause and Effect

App suggestions:

Simple Cause and Effect

Targetted touch/ touch skills

Links to Websites:


Early Learning

App suggestions:

Help Kidz Learn Apps:


Speaking and Listening

App suggestions:


Toca Boca:



Links to websites:


Reading and Writing

App suggestions:


Interactive Books:

Early Literacy:


Links to websites:


App suggestions:


Early Maths:








Links to websites:

Adding content to your iPads to support Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) for students with autism (ASD).

Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder need support in the areas of communication, behaviour and social development. It is important to match the right apps to suit the needs of individual students in your classroom. AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) are those strategies and supports necessary for people with complex communication needs, who may have little or no speech.

Links to websites:

Apps for AAC (Symbol Based) suggestions:


Apps for AAC (Text-based) suggestions:


Apps for AAC (Social Communication) suggestions:


Creating customised content on the iPads: Special Education Classrooms

App suggestions:

QR Codes in the clasroom:

Spectronics QR Code

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water

Are iPads and other new mobile technology being introduced into classrooms replacing all that has gone before? The answer is no! Technology is just one of the tools available to teachers and their students to ensure learning rich and engaging classroom for all students.

Desktop Software

AAC devices

Web 2.0 tools such as interactive learning websites:

Apps to play FLASH files on iPad:


Integrate the iPad into your classroom – share your iPad screen to your VGA-equipped data projector, TV or monitor

Via a cable:

Apple VGA Adaptor or Apple Digital AV Adapter

30pin to VGA adapter30p-AV AdapterLigntning AV Adapter


Apple TV, Reflection, and Air Server

Apple TV

Using iPads with Interactive Whiteboards

Inclusion Study

Today is just the beginning… taking your learning further!

So you have the appropriate assessment and implementation tools in place, but keeping up with the range of apps available and the successful strategies for effectively applying them in diverse learning support and special education classrooms can be difficult. Which ones do you choose for your students? These links will help.

Discover new apps via an app:



Need to find more? Want to connect with others who are implementing iPads in their schools and exploring the use of the wide range of apps available? Using the time-honoured strategies of occasional conference attendance, as funds are available, or listserve participation or surfing the net is simply no longer enough

However the collection of freely available resources and valuable time-sensitive advice for special education teachers and those supporting struggling students has grown exponentially on social media channels – supporting building of powerful Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) without geographic boundaries.

A comprehensive overview of these online resources and networks, including Facebook Groups, Twitter hashtags, blogs and key influencers in the field around special education and learning is available via this link

App icons for building your Special Education and Learning Support Professional Learning Networks

In the past special educators and learning support teams have been less enthusiastic than their mainstream peers in embracing social media to build powerful, extended PLNs. It is time to accelerate and expand the adoption of these tools by special educators, to connect with like-minded colleagues globally.


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About Amanda Hartmann

Amanda is a Speech Pathologist with over 17 years experience. She has worked within educational settings, as an Inclusive Technology Consultant with Spectronics , and currently focuses her time on her busy private practice.

Amanda is a Key Word Sign/Makaton Presenter, an official Proloquo2Go trainer and an official expert TBoxApps Trainer for Therapy Box. She is also a certified Apple Trainer and regularly runs iPad workshops to help schools integrate iPad technology into the classroom, for all learners.

Amanda has a special interest in supporting and developing communication, literacy and learning for a wide range of diverse learners, often through the use of visual tools, sign language and technology. She has spent many years providing therapy support and teacher/parent training in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) for students with complex communication needs, due to disabilities such as: Cerebral palsy and other Physical impairments, Visual impairment, Hearing impairment, Autism, Down Syndrome, Fragile X, Intellectual Impairment, Angelman Syndrome, Rett Syndrome and others. She also has specialist knowledge to support the literacy learning of students with learning difficulties, language impairments and other diverse learning needs. She is passionate about providing interactive and engaging presentations to educators, parents and therapists.

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