Addressing the Learning Needs of Students
with Disabilities in the Classroom
The “Tech Act”
The Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals
with Disabilities Act of 1988 was designed to
enhance the availability and quality of assistive
technology (AT) devices and services to all
individuals and their families throughout the United
The Tech Act mandates that assistive technology be
considered in developing Individualized Education
Programs (IEPs) for students with disabilities.
Assistive Technology (A.T.)
What is Assistive
Any item, piece of
equipment, or product
system that is used to
increase, maintain, or
improve the functional
capabilities of a child with a
The categories include no
technology, low technology,
or high technology
How Does it Enhance
Allows students to focus
on the content, instead of
struggling with the
technicalities of learning
such as note-taking,
organization, writing, and
Teaching students to
organize their thoughts
or work using flowcharting, task analysis,
webbing, and outlining.
Sending class notes or
students via e-mail.
sessions for visual
learners or those who
are unable to attend
class for extended
periods of time.
Word processing is very important for students with mild
disabilities. The following are benefits of utilizing such
strategies in the classroom:
Allows the teacher to make suggestions on the student's disk.
Students can read each other's work and make
recommendations for revision.
Computer editing reduces or eliminates problems such as
multiple erasures, torn papers, and poor handwriting.
The final copy is neat and legible.
Using the outline function of
word processing software,
which lets students set out
major ideas or topics and
then add subcategories of
Using the Internet, local area
networks, or LCD projection
systems to allow students
and their teachers the
opportunity to collaborate,
give feedback, and modify
notes to voice by using
optical character recognition
(OCR) software with a voice
Using notebook computers,
personal digital assistants
(PDAs), or portable word
processing keyboards to
help students with the
mechanics of note taking
According to the American SpeechLanguage Association:
• Hearing assistive technology
systems (HATS) are devices that
can help individuals function
better in their day-to-day
• HATS can be used with or
without hearing aids or cochlear
implants to make hearing easier,
reducing stress and fatigue.
• Hearing aids + HATS = better
listening and better
Choosing the Right A.T.
It is extremely important to choose the correct
Assistive Technology to most effectively benefit the
This is accomplished through a process, which
involves considering the interests, abilities and needs
of a child.
From this initial consideration a process of 6
distinguished steps are utilized to narrow down the
list and meet the learning needs of the student.
6 Steps to Choosing the
Step 1: Collect child and family information.
Step 2: Identify activities for participation.
Step 3: Consider what is his/her current level of
participation and what observable behaviors will
reflect an increase in independent interactions.
Step 4: Brainstorm AT solutions.
Step 5: Determine when the AT intervention will
begin and create an observation plan to record how
the child participates with the AT supports.
Step 6: Identify what worked.
Additional A.T. Resources
ATA Center/Play Information: The ATA is a national network of technology resource centers,
organizations, individuals and companies offering: information and referral on technology resources,
outreach, training for individuals with disabilities and professionals, and networking opportunities.
Family Center on Technology and Disability The Family Center supports organizations and programs
that work with families of children and youth with disabilities through a range of information and
services on assistive technologies.
KITE Project, Pacer Center KITE Project is a training curriculum for parents and teachers of young
children with disabilities used to promote inclusion through the use of technology.
Let‟s Play Projects, Center for Assistive Technology These projects provide ideas and strategies to
promote play through better access to play materials, and use assistive technology to give children this
Tots „n Tech Tots „n Tech disseminations information from its national research center about the use of
assistive technology to enhance the development of infants and toddlers with disabilities.
Purdue program for tactile graphs, charts
A Purdue University-developed program lets visually impaired students work with graphs,
charts, diagrams, and maps. Drawing printed on special paper is heated to make the black
portions (lines, Braille letters, etc.) into a raised image.
Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic: (http://www.rfbd.org/)
educational library for those with print disabilities.
Closing the Gap: (http://www.closingthegap.com)
computer technology in special education and rehabilitation