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Keywords:

  • topic;
  • struggling;
  • assistive;
  • learner;
  • special needs;
  • type;
  • article

Digital technologies have created new forms of reading and writing and have altered our conceptions of literacy. However, digital technologies also offer new ways of assisting readers who have various difficulties reading and comprehending conventional texts. Use of the capabilities of digital technologies specifically to broaden access to textual information among such readers has come to be known as assistive technologies, the topic of this installment of RRQ's New Directions in Research.

Research and development in this area have been ongoing since the early days of instructional computing. During the previous decade, however, interest in this aspect of the digital revolution has expanded considerably, due in part to the increasing availability of sophisticated digital technologies. Interest in assitive technologies has also expanded in response to U.S. federal laws requiring publishers to make the content of textbooks accessible to students with a variety of disabilities. Currently, there is also a federally funded center aimed at researching how digital technologies can provide textual supports aimed at increasing comprehension and learning among readers with disabilities. Thus, we believe that considering the topic of assistive technologies is particularly timely and important. The contributros, whose individual pieces follow, have diverse backgrounds, orientations, and experiences that position them well to identify the issues that define the current and needed research agenda related to assistive technologies.

[This New Directions in Research collection includes