Assistive technology interventions for adolescents and adults with learning disabilities: An evidence-based systematic review and meta-analysis

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12 Scopus citations


Background 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. Purpose 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. Methods Using 5 search methods, we located 38 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. Results 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. Conclusions 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-163
Number of pages25
JournalComputers and Education
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017



  • Assistive technology
  • Learning disabilities
  • Meta-analysis
  • Qualitative review
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Education

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