What is Assistive Technology?
Assistive technology (AT) is an important factor in reducing barriers for students to access the curriculum and learning.
The federal definition of AT is “any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities". It also includes the services needed to select, acquire and use the AT effectively. IEP teams need to ensure the successful adoption and implementation of the tools as well.
The official definition of assistive technology is very general in that it provides IEP teams with the flexibility to explore and provide a range of AT for students to access the curriculum and complete their learning tasks. A large variety of technology (from no/low tech to high tech) can be considered for students to support writing, reading, math, executive functioning, and speaking & listening. AT can help students gain confidence in their abilities ability to produce work and demonstrate what they know.
A team consideration process is essential. The success of any AT is highly dependent upon the support from the student's IEP team.
Students need opportunities to use their AT and work towards utilizing it with independence.
Technology decisions are guided by needs and not candidacy.
Assistive technologies are more that educational tools, they provide access and help level the playing field for students with disabilities.
There is a "time and a place" for all tools. The team needs to understand the purpose of the AT and ensure the use of the tool(s) is implemented.
Additionally, QIAT (Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology) gives valuable information about how teams should develop and deliver assistive technology service.
Examples of AT:
Pencil grip, fidgits, seat cushions, adapted paper, graph paper, calculator, reading windows, visual timers, slant board, manipulatives, built-in accessibility features of devices, graphic organizers, switches, text-to-speech (TTS), word prediction, voice recognition, digital math equation editor, productivity apps, audio books, keyboards, touch screen, and drawing tools.