In today's fast-paced world, technology has infiltrated every aspect of our lives, transforming the way we work, communicate, and learn. When it comes to education, the integration of assistive technology has the potential to break down barriers and empower students with diverse learning needs. Mary Wilcox, the ReadSpeaker TextAid product specialist at Aventido and former teacher, is a passionate advocate for harnessing the power of technology to support neurodiverse individuals in their educational journey.
Mary's Teaching Background
Before venturing into the realm of assistive technology, Mary spent an impressive 16 years as a primary school teacher. Her teaching experience encompassed a variety of roles and responsibilities, providing her with a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the classroom:
Mary began her teaching career in the late '90s, working with young students in a mixed Year 1/2 class. These formative years allowed her to establish a strong foundation in education.
Mary continued her teaching journey by working with Year 3 students for five years, gaining valuable insights into the developmental needs of slightly older children.
In her later years as a primary school teacher, Mary took on the role of teaching lower-ability Key Stage 2 students in English and mathematics. Additionally, she oversaw ICT (Information and Communication Technology) throughout the school. Her multifaceted responsibilities included website design and maintenance, as well as providing technical support.
After a rewarding career in the classroom, Mary transitioned into a role as a supply teacher and 1:1 tutor for three years, bringing her total years in the field to an impressive 19.
The Influence of Teaching on Mary's Perspective
Mary's extensive teaching background equipped her with a unique perspective on the impact of assistive technology (AT) in the classroom. During the final five years of her teaching career, she had the opportunity to delve into technology and teach students of all ages (from 4 to 11) about computing. This rare opportunity allowed her to witness firsthand the profound influence technology could have on students' motivation to learn.
Mary shares, "I already knew that technology makes a huge difference to children's motivation to learn. Fast forward a few years, and now I know so much more. There's so much AT out there, which means that having a disability is a smaller barrier to learning than it used to be."
However, Mary recognised that the effectiveness of AT depends on its accessibility and utilisation. She emphasises the importance of teachers, especially Special Education Needs and Disabilities Coordinators (SENDCos), being aware of the diverse and impactful AT solutions available.
Mary acknowledges the challenges teachers face, including limited time and resources, but also understands that AT can empower students to work more independently. Her teaching experience allows her to effectively demonstrate the benefits of AT, ensuring that educators and students alike can make the most of these powerful tools.
In her role at Aventido, Mary Wilcox continues to advocate for the integration of technology in education, particularly for neurodiverse individuals. Her journey from the classroom to the world of assistive technology has enriched her understanding of the transformative potential of AT, making her a valuable asset in the quest to create more inclusive and accessible learning environments.
Are you a teacher who wants to learn more about assistive technology and how it can improve the learning journey of your pupils? Mary will be joining the team from ReadSpeaker at BETT, a free-to-attend 3-day event taking place in London from 24th - 26th January, which showcases all of the latest in EdTech. Mary will be at stand SG74 to demonstrate how text-to-speech technology can provide literacy support to learners during lessons, home learning, and exams. Register for the event here.
If you can’t make the event but would like to learn more about assistive technology, book a 1-2-1 call with Mary here.