Assistive technology make the impossible possible for individuals with disabilities. Assistive technology is any item, piece of equipment, or product system whether acquired commercially on the shelf, modified or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. What is Assistive Tech (AT)?
Assistive Technology (AT) devices are tools to help to overcome those challenges and enable people living with disabilities to enhance their quality of life and lead more independent lives. Children and adults with disabilities may use AT to travel about, participate in recreational and social activities, learn, work, communicate with others, and much more. What is AT?
AT can be anything from a simple low-tech device such as a magnifying glass, to a complex high tech device such as a computerized communication system. It can be large, such as an automated van lift for a wheelchair, or small like a grip attached to a pen or fork with Velcro. AT can also be a substitute such as an augmentative communication device that provides vocal output for a child who cannot communicate with his/her own voice. What is AT?
A device refers to a specific type of “product” that is used to enhance the functional capabilities of students with disabilities Assistive technology devices can include mobility devices such as walkers and wheelchairs, as well as hardware, software, and peripherals that assist people with disabilities in accessing computers or other information technologies. AT Devices
People with limited hand function may use a keyboard with large keys or a special mouse to operate a computer People who are blind may use software that reads text on the screen in a computer-generated voice, people with low vision may use software that enlarges screen content People who are deaf may use a TTY (text telephone) People with speech impairments may use a device that speaks out loud as they enter text via a keyboard. AT Device Examples
The term "assistive technology service" means any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. (IDEA 1997, Sec. 602(2)). AT Services
Evaluating children to determine their AT needs, including a functional evaluation of the child in the child's customary environment Training children, parents, teaching staff, (including individuals providing education and rehabilitation services), employers, or other individuals who provide services to, employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of such child.” (34 C.F.R. § 300.6) AT Services Examples
Purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by such child Selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing of assistive technology devices Coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs AT Services Examples
IDEA 97 now requires student planning teams to consider whether assistive technology devices or services are needed for all students with disabilities and also stipulates that school districts are required to provide for such devices or services to ensure a free, appropriate public education (FAPE). Why AT?
Given this requirement, it is imperative that special educators develop skills and knowledge in this area. Examples of skills include: Assessing an individual's assistive technology needs makes it far more likely to identify AT devices and services which will improve their functional capabilities. Why AT?
A poor match between technology and user more often than not leads to abandonment of the technology, and thus loss of the desired outcome. Various studies and surveys indicate that half and possibly as much as 80% of assistive technology is abandoned by the prospective user. Often, this is because the technology was not a good match for the user's abilities, needs, preferences, the task to be accomplished, or the context of the technology's use. AT Abandonment
AT abandonment can be contributed to: Technology was not well matched to the individual need.One of the most important aspects of successful applications of AT is the match the child to the technology not the match the technology to the individual. Little or no training was provided. Families not accepting of the technology. Families not accepting of the technology. Michigan’s Assistive Technology Resource is an IDEA Mandated Activity Project offered through the Michigan Department of Education Office of Special Education and Early Intervention Services AT Abandonment
AT abandonment can be minimized by: First a long-term goal should be established. This long-term goal is usually reflected in the individual transition plan. With the long-term goal in mind, prioritizing the steps necessary to move toward it will help to set the short-term goals and objectives. The assessment team should always have an occupational therapist or a physical therapist if there is physical involvement and a speech-language pathologist if there are communication issues. The team should also include a teacher, an educational specialist and/or an AT consultant. One person should always be formally appointed to manage the case. Michigan’s Assistive Technology Resource is an IDEA Mandated Activity Project offered through the Michigan Department of Education Office of Special Education and Early Intervention Services Minimize AT Abandonment