An increasing amount of assistive technology interventions exist for adolescents and adults with learning disabilities, but there has been no systematic review of their effectiveness. Are assistive technology interventions effective in learning disabilities for participants ages 14 and up? How do these interventions affect the lived experience of users? We performed a systematic review of both qualitative and quantitative studies to answer these questions. Using 5 search methods, we located 33 quantitative group-design and single-subject intervention studies, 5 survey studies and 13 qualitative studies. We sorted the group-design and single-subject studies into groups by intervention type and performed meta-analyses. We provided a narrative summary of survey and qualitative publications. We used a modified version of the Downs-Black checklist to assess study quality, where applicable. While assistive interventions proved overall beneficial, the most commonly used interventions were unexpectedly not the most effective. Interventions based on word processing, multimedia and hypertext proved the most effective, while smart pens and text-to-speech systems presented mixed results. Speech-to-text systems had a small positive effect. Participants had mixed emotions and attitudes about their assistive technology. Assistive technology interventions can be helpful for adolescents and adults with learning disabilities, but interventions need to be carefully compared, and customized to the individual.
The article is forthcoming very soon, stay tuned!
This study was funded by the University of Iowa Presidential Graduate Research Fellowship to BP and NIH grant 5R01DC011742 to KKM.