Assistive technology (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 functional capabilities of a child with a disability” (IDEA, 2004). 

This federal law requires educators (IEP teams ) to consider the assistive technology needs of all children with disabilities. If your child is coming out of the public school system, has been ruled eligible for special services and has a current IEP, check to see if any assistive technology was provided that you may want to continue at home. However, you are not limited to what the school provided; you have a wide array of AT options to choose from to give your child the greatest opportunity to learn and succeed.

Wrights Law,  https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/atech.index.htm.

Definition

Assistive technology is any item that assists someone in completing a task and helps people who have difficulty speaking, typing, writing, remembering, pointing, seeing, hearing, learning, and walking. Different disabilities require different assistive technologies. For students with mild disabilities this may consists of common items in the home or located in a general store that are modified to meet the individual need, usually considered low tech items. For students with more involved disabilities, high-tech items may include electronic devices, advanced software and equipment which are often more costly. Below is an incomplete lists of some of the more commonly known technologies.

Types

Low-tech 

Reading

  • Communication boards made of cardboard or fuzzy felt
  • Tachistoscopes (e.g., an index card with a cut-out showing a few words)
  • Highlighters
  • Colored overlays
  • Changes in lighting such as pale blue film over florescent ceiling lights
  • Dictionary pens
  • Magnifying bar
  • Bookmark reading guides

Writing

  • Audio tapes and CDs
  • Slant boards
  • Adapted paper (e.g., colored, raised lines with portions highlighted)
  • Alternative keyboards
  • Digital recorders
  • Pencil grips
  • Writing stylus
  • Graphic organizers
  • Weighted handwriting devices
  • Non-slip writing mats

Mathematics

  • Calculator
  • Number-line
  • Abacus
  • Tactile ruler
  • Math manipulatives
  • Graph paper to line up math problems
  • Individual white boards

Communication

  • Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
  • Picture boards
  • Visual schedules

High-tech

Reading

  • Text to speech software
  • Audio books
  • Software for reading text in Power Point presentation
  • Kurzweil –  reading support, text & assessments, https://www.kurzweiledu.com/products/products.html
  • Electronic tablet: Apple I-Pad, Kindle
  • Screen magnifier

Writing

  • Portable word processors
  • Spelling/grammar checkers: Franklin Speller
  • Sentence expansion software are commonplace.
  • Word prediction software
  • Speech recognition software: Dragon Naturally Speaking
  • Ginger: Grammar checker, word prediction & sentence rephrasing, & text to speech   https://www.gingersoftware.com/

Mathematics

  • Math Talk –  is a speech recognition software program for math that can help students with a range of disabilities perform math problems by speaking into a microphone on their computer. https://mathtalk.com/
  • Software programs that drill on math skills

Communication

Physical Aids

  • Prosthetics
  • Mounting systems
  • Positioning devices
  • Computer hardware: special switches, keyboards, and pointing devices
  • Sip-and-puff products students can use to control an electronic device
  • Wheelchairs, walkers, braces, and scooters
  • Power lifts
  • Pencil holders, eye-gaze, and head trackers
  • Adaptive seating: balls, cushions, chairs with seat belts, wiggle stools

Assistive Technology for blindness or low vision

  1. Text-to-Audio Version 10.0 is an audio file creation program designed for use by individuals who are blind or have low vision. This program converts electronic text files into audio files with. Download
  2. Scan and Read Pro is a voice output optical character recognition program designed for use by individuals who are blind or have low vision or learning disabilities. The program reads printed text. Download
  3. Text Cloner Pro is an optical character recognition program designed for use by individuals who are blind or have low vision. This program is designed to work with a voice output screen reader. Purchase
  4. Talking Calculator is a voice output calculator program designed for use by individuals who are blind or have low vision. App Store

American Foundation for the Blind has a notetaking app that can be downloaded onto an IPad or Smartphone http://www.afb.org/info/living-with-vision-loss/using-technology/download-afbs-apps/123

Resources

Assistive Technology Industry Association, https://www.atia.org/home/at-resources/what-is-at/

Center on Technology and Disabilityhttps://www.ctdinstitute.org/library

Smart Kids with LDhttps://www.smartkidswithld.org/first-steps/tech-tools/

Therapy Shoppe, a good place to find many of the assistive technology devices mentioned, included products for left handed learners, https://www.therapyshoppe.com/category/25-assistive-technology

TechMatrix,  a database of hundreds of products using extensive criteria tailored to assistive and educational technologies; search by content area, grade level, disability category, cost range, or math/reading standards. https://techmatrix.org/

Skills 4 Life, created by pediatric occupational therapist, provides a very thorough list, with descriptions, of apps that assists with focus, organization, time management, and many other skills that children with disabilities need to work on. Apps