Assistive Technology- an umbrella term that includes
assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for
people with disabilities and also includes the process
used in selecting, locating, and using them.
Often used synonymously with adaptive technology,
assistive technology refers to "any item, piece of
equipment, or product system, whether acquired
commercially, modified, or customized, that is used
to increase, maintain, or improve functional
capabilities of individuals with disabilities”.
Examples of Devices for Physical Impairments
Personal Emergency Response Systems
Sip and Puff device
Braille technology (visual)
Kids with delayed skills or other disabilities might be eligible
for special services that provide individualized education
programs (IEP) in public schools, free of charge to families.
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
speech or language impairment
Individualized Education Program
The referral process generally begins when a teacher,
parent, or doctor is concerned that a child may be having
trouble in the classroom, and the teacher notifies the
school counselor or psychologist.
To determine eligibility, a multidisciplinary team of
professionals will evaluate the child based on their
observations; the child's performance on standardized
tests; and daily work such as tests, quizzes, classwork,
The parents then have a chance to review the report
before the IEP is developed. Some parents will disagree
with the report, and they will have the opportunity to
work together with the school to come up with a plan that
best meets the child's needs.
Assistive Technology 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 access.
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.
Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)
The guidelines for service delivery of assistive technology
(AT) are found in the Individuals with Disabilities Act
Also described in IDEA, is an Assistive Technology
Service. This is defined as "...any service that directly
assists an individual with a disability in the selection,
acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device"
(IDEA 300.6). Studies have shown that assistive
technology can significantly improve the educational,
vocational, and social performance of individuals with
disabilities. Federal law mandates that schools annually
consider assistive technology accommodations in the
Individual Education Program (IEP) of all eligible
Tech Act or No Tech
Public Law 105-17, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),
uses the same definitions for assistive technology as the Tech Act and
mandates that assistive technology be considered in developing
Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for students with disabilities.
"No-technology" or "no-tech" refers to any assistive device that is not
electronic. No-tech items range from a piece of foam glued onto the corners
of book pages to make turning easier to a study carrel to reduce distraction.
"Low-technology" or "low-tech" devices are electronic but do not include
highly sophisticated computer components, such as an electronic voicerecording device or a "talking watch" (Behrmann & Schaff, 2001). "Hightechnology" or "high-tech" devices utilize complex, multifunction
technology and usually include a computer and associated software.
Lahm and Morissette (1994) identified areas of instruction in which AT can
assist students. Six of these are described here: (1) organization, (2) note
taking, (3) writing, (4) academic productivity, (5) access to reference and
general educational materials, and (6) cognitive assistance.
Hearing Assistive Technology
What are hearing assistive technology systems
Hearing assistive technology systems (HATS) are devices that
can help you function better in your day-to-day
communication situations. HATS can be used with or without
hearing aids or cochlear implants to make hearing easier—and
thereby reduce stress and fatigue. Hearing aids + HATS =
better listening and better communication!
Situations especially difficult for people with hearing loss:
a. Distance between the listener and the sound source
b. Competing noise in the environment
c. Poor room acoustics/reverberation
Examples of Assistive Technology
Read and Write Gold – Comprehensive Literacy software with features such as Text-to-Speech with
highlighting, Word Prediction while typing, Study skills for organization and research, Scanning Documents &
Books with OCR, highlighting and exporting with Bibliography, Fact-Mapping and Brainstorming, and Web
apps for the iPad. The features of Read and Write Gold are also available as an extension in the Chrome
Voice Recognition Software – Use your voice to control everything. Speech-to-Text software and apps for
individuals who are physically unable to access a computer, or may have a learning disability or print
disability. Speech recognition can be utilized to access all features of a computer- reading, navigating, typing,
research, sending email and texts, completing work, etc. It can also be used for environmental controls in one’s
home environment, for lights, television, music, appliances, etc. Speech recognition can also support
individuals who may struggle with spelling and grammar.
Digital Magnifiers and Magnification Software and Hardware - Software to magnify your computer
screen, invert text colors, increase mouse and cursor sizes. Hardware to Magnify Documents and Books,
magnify the Whiteboard or Chalkboard to be able to see instruction, Take photos to study later, screen reading
built-in, and more options for individuals who are Visually impaired, or losing sight over time. There are also
magnification apps for Apple(iPad/ iOS devices) and Android. Magnification options are available on iphones,
iPads, and tablets for use in the community, such as reading bus schedules or signs, menus, and utilizing for
Refreshable Braille Displays – utilized by individuals who are Blind and Read Braille. Access all
information on the computer, iPad, or iphone by connecting to a refreshable Braille display, and having
instant, real-time, refreshing Braille to access the information that is presented. Refreshable Braille displays
offer access to the computer, research, email, texting, textbooks, ebooks, iphones, iPads, and more.
Georgia Project for Assistive Technology
The Georgia Project for Assistive Technology (GPAT), a
unit of the Georgia Department of Education, supports
local school systems in their efforts to provide assistive
technology devices and services to students with
disabilities. Funded since 1991, GPAT has focused on
building local assistive technology resources by providing
quality professional learning and technical support
The mission of GPAT is to improve student achievement,
productivity, independence and inclusion by enhancing
educator knowledge of assistive technology and
increasing student access to appropriate assistive
technology devices and services.
How This Works in Higher Education
Section 508, Section 504 and the ADA all impact the delivery of web-based content for institutes of higher
education. To clarify:
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 is U.S. federal law. It provides specific instructions
that must be followed when creating web-based content. For example, Section 508 requires that every nontext element (image, chart, graph, audio, video, animation, etc.) must be accompanied by a text equivalent for
those who are not able to see, hear or otherwise access the non-text element. Thus, Section 508 provides
standards for compliance.
Section 504 and the ADA are civil rights legislation.
Section 504 is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990 in order to make American society
more accessible to individuals with disabilities. It also prohibits discrimination based on disability.
When individuals file lawsuits or civil rights complaints against institutes of higher education, they do so
based on Section 504 or ADA violations.
Section 508 was originally written for federal agencies. However, all states that receive funding through the
Assistive Technology Act must also comply with Section 508. Since the state of Georgia receives funding under
the Assistive Technology Act, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia has determined that all
institutions under the Board of Regents fall within the scope of Section 508.
Section 508 provides accessibility standards to be followed in the procurement, development, maintenance
and utilization of the following:
Software Applications and Operating Systems
Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications
Video or Multimedia Products
Self-contained, Closed Products
Desktop and Portable Computers
Assistive Technology Journals
- The journals included in this section are dedicated to assistive
technology research and scholarly articles.
Assistive Technology Outcomes and Benefits (ATOB)
Journal of Special Education Technology (JSET)
American Journal of Occupational Therapy (AJOT)
American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
Focus on Autism and Other Developmental