Assistive technology or "AT" is a global term that is used to describe any device that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functioning of a person with a disability. This can include low tech devices such as picture cards or high tech devices that can detect an individual's eye movements and generate speech. It includes devices that can assist with an individual's hearing, mobility, vision, communication, and motor abilities.
The following are possible uses for AT:
•· To provide physical access to the learning environment such as an alternative keyboard to access the classroom computer, or a wheelchair to physically access the school campus.
•· To close the gap between receptive and expressive language abilities to allow a student to effectively express themselves such as with the use of voice output devices or pictures.
•· To assist a child whose performance is falling behind in class, such as a child that has fine motor issues that make their writing very slow and laborious, a word processing device can be used instead of handwriting so the child can keep up with the class.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act includes the use of AT devices and services in the classroom if it is necessary for the child to access the curriculum and make educational progress. As with any other component of a child's program, providing AT begins with a comprehensive evaluation. Hearing, vision, communication, and motor abilities should be included in this AT assessment.
Often, schools seem to provide AT devices without an assessment or provide the device without AT services. For example, this happens routinely with children with severe communication difficulties and the Picture Exchange Communication System, or "PECS". This is a critical oversight as PECS simply does not work for some children. The other scenario is when a school completes a proper assessment and provides an appropriate device, but neglects to include AT services to train people working with a child on how to use the device or monitor the use of the device. Both the assessment and services are important to effectively use an AT device.
If you feel that your child may need an assistive technology device, Contact us by email or call us at 714-602-1498 or 866-781-7723 (toll free) for more information.
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