Assistive Technology

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Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology (AT) Device "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 functional capabilities of children with disabilities" - IDEA 2004Assistive Technology Service: "Any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device" - IDEA 2004In other words, the word technology means anything you can use to make your life easier and more efficient. For example, the toothbrush is a type of technology we use everyday. In the classroom, AT may be used to help students with disabilities learn. This technology can be anything from a picture, drawing, tape recorder, or iPad. If an item is being used to help someone learn, then it’s assistive technology!

What is Assistive Technology (AT)?


Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

Assistive Technology is separated into three categories: low-tech, mid-tech, and high-tech. Low-tech is using visuals made of ‘simple’ materials such as paper. This includes pictures, drawings, dry erase boards, binders, pencil grips, folders, etc. These visuals help lay out schedules, expected behavior, rules, directions, and, social communication skills.An example of a low-tech strategy is giving a student ‘choice cards’. These cards can be made of pictures, drawings, etc. and students can choose what activity they would like to do. For example, there may be two laminated cards to choose from: a picture of a pretzel, labeled “pretzel”, and picture of a banana labeled “banana”, Data has shown that students who have a choice to pick their desired snack ‘act out’ less.Mid-tech devices are usually battery powered voice output machines. An example of a mid-tech strategy is using ‘voice in the box” to motivate students with ASD to pay attention. For example, if the teacher is reading a book to a group of students, many of the sentences from the book can be read out loud from a recorded message. The teacher can then have the student push the button to read aloud the desired sentence that corresponds with the book. This strategy helps students with listening in a larger group.High-tech devices mostly include computers and videotaping. An example of a high-tech strategy is using a computer to help focus on learning and it can also be used as a reward. As a teacher I have learned students love using the computer. Student with ASD can strive with learning by using this form of high-tech strategy. You can have your school district purchase software that can help students with ASD focus on language skills, listening skills, problem-solving skills, fine motor skills, and academic skills.All in all, using high-tech strategies has proven to decrease agitation and self-stimulatory behaviors and increase focus and fine motor skills.

Two examples of low-tech

Pencil Grips

Choice Cards

Fast Facts about the LAW: IDEA 20041. Mandates schools to provide AT where necessary2. Provides states with funding in training professionals to understand and use AT (Part of Tech Act 1988)3. AT consideration included in student’s IEP4. Priority funding and status go to the special education population5. Devices: excludes surgically implanted devices 6. Section 504 gives students without a learning disability, but instead a medical condition, educational accommodations7. Americans with Disabilities Act protects people with a disability from discrimination. This has increased the way the individual can access the service aspect of AT

Two examples of high-tech

iPad Computer

Which one is a mid-tech device?

How does the Child Study Team decide what type of AT helps individual students? They follow a framework that helps them gather data to make the best and most effective decision. This framework is called S.E.T.T., which stands for STUDENT, ENVIRONMENT (S) , TASKS, and TOOLS. Here’s the breakdown of S.E.T.T.Student: The Child Study Team will review students’ academic level, determine IEP goals, identify supports and services that can help the student learn. Environment (s): Which classroom is the student in? How many students share a classroom with him or her? What are behaviors’ of other students that share the same classroom like? Is the student going from class to class? What is lunchtime like?Tasks: Information about what is specifically happening in each environment. For example, completing word problems in math.Tools: Technology needed for students to complete their tasks successfully. Check out one of many SETT forms by Joy Zabala!

Video Camera

By law AT should be available in all public schools at no cost to parents.

Did you know?? The Child Study Team is responsible to be aware of AT, make recommendations, and provide for students that are eligible for it (students with learning disabilities) Funding and training educate the CST in understanding and implementing AT in a student’s IEP.


By: Maria Elisa Lisciandrello


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