Assistive Technology and
Augmentative & Alternative Communication
In a broad sense, Assistive Technology (AT) is any device, software or equipment that helps people with disabilities work around challenges so they can learn, communicate and simply function better. For instance, software that reads aloud text from a computer is AT. So is a keyboard for a child with handwriting issues.
AT tools can help kids work around their weaknesses, while also playing to their strengths. This is especially important for kids who struggle with reading, writing, math and other issues. AT can help these kids become more successful, productive students. And that can help grow their confidence and independence.
IDEA (2004) Definition:Assistive technology device means 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 the functional capabilities of a child with a disability. The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted or the replacement of such device.Assistive technology service means any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. The term includes--
- The evaluation of the needs of a child with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the child in the child's customary environment;
Purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by children with disabilities;
Selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing 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;
Training or technical assistance for a child with a disability or, if appropriate, that child's family; and
Training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals providing education or rehabilitation services), employers, or other individuals who provide services to, employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of that child.
For more information about AT, please click here
AUGMENTATIVE AND ALTERNATIVE COMMUNICATION
You may have seen someone write in a notebook to answer a question. Maybe you have seen people using sign language or other gestures. You may have seen someone push buttons on a computer that speaks for them. These are all forms of augmentative and alternative communication, or AAC.
AAC includes all of the ways we share our ideas and feelings without talking. We all use forms of AAC every day. You use AAC when you use facial expressions or gestures instead of talking. You use AAC when you write a note and pass it to a friend or coworker. We may not realize how often we communicate without talking.
People with severe speech or language problems may need AAC to help them communicate. Some may use it all of the time. Others may say some words but use AAC for longer sentences or with people they don’t know well. AAC can help in school, at work, and when talking with friends and family.
For more information about AAC, please click here
ACCESSIBLE EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS
For students with sensory, physical, cognitive, or learning differences and their teachers, accessible educational materials may open doors to teaching and learning that ordinary print-based materials have closed. Accessible educational materials or AEM are specialized formats of curricular content that can be used by and with students who are unable to read or use standard print materials. Specialized formats include braille, audio, large print, and digital text. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) includes a requirement that schools provide AEM in a timely manner to K-12 students who need them for participation and achievement.
For more information and resources, please click here and on the links to the right.