What is assistive technology? How do you choose the right assistive technology? Who pays for assistive technology? What is the ATIA, and how can it help you find out about assistive technology?
What is assistive technology

How do you choose the right assistive technology?

Screen readers: Software used by blind or visually impaired people to read the content of the computer screen. Examples include JAWS for Windows, NVDA, or Voiceover for Mac. Screen magnification software: Allow users to control the size of text and or graphics on the screen. Unlike using a zoom feature, these applications allow the user to have the ability to see the enlarged text in relation to the rest of the screen. This is done by emulating a handheld magnifier over the screen. Text readers: Software used by people with various forms of learning disabilities that affect their ability to read text.

Screen readers are used to help the visually impaired to easily access electronic information. These software programs run on a computer in order to convey the displayed information through voice (text-to-speech) or braille (refreshable braille displays) in combination with magnification for low vision users in some cases. There are a variety of platforms and applications available for a variety of costs with differing feature sets.

AbleData is a database of information on assistive technology products and resources. PBS Parents provides examples of assistive devices  as well as some specific guidance on alternative communication strategies  for people who need assistance to produce or comprehend spoken or written language. The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation has information about available assistive technology to help people with impaired mobility or other disabilities drive motor vehicles . The Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America describes standards for different types of assistive technology  on its website.

This software will read text with a synthesized voice and may have a highlighter to emphasize the word being spoken. These applications do not read things such as menus or types of elements - they only read the text. Speech input software: Provides people with difficulty in typing an alternate way to type text and also control the computer. Users can give the system some limited commands to perform mouse actions. Users can tell the system to click a link or a button or use a menu item. Examples would be Dragon Naturally Speaking for Windows or Mac. Please note both Windows and Mac have some speech recognition utilities, but they cannot be used to browse the web. Alternative input devices: Some users may not be able to use a mouse or keyboard to work on a computer. These people can use various forms of devices, such as: Head pointers: A stick or object mounted directly on the user's head that can be used to push keys on the keyboard. These are typically used with on-screen keyboards. The on-screen keyboard has a cursor move across the keys, and when the key the user wants is in focus, the user will click the switch.

Assistive Technology is all around us! Many of the tools available are free or cost very little to use. On the following pages are lists of Assistive Technology tools you may find useful when completing various tasks both in or out of school. Tools are broken down into sub-categories such as Reading, Writing, or Notetaking, for example.

Most often, the choice is a decision you make with a team of professionals and consultants trained to match particular assistive technologies to specific needs. An AT team may include family doctors, regular and special education teachers, speech-language pathologists, rehabilitation engineers, occupational therapists, and other specialists including consulting representatives from companies that manufacture assistive technology.

School systems pay for general special education learning materials as well as technology specified in an IEP. Government programs (Social Security, veteran's benefits, or state Medicaid agencies) pay for certain assistive technology if a doctor prescribes it as a necessary medical device. Private health insurance pays for certain assistive technology if a doctor prescribes it as a necessary medical or rehabilitative device. Rehabilitation and job training programs, whether funded by government or private agencies, may pay for assistive technology and training to help people get jobs.

Prostheses are specifically not orthoses, although given certain circumstances a prosthesis might end up performing some or all of the same functionary benefits as an orthosis. Prostheses are technically the complete finished item. For instance, a C-Leg knee alone is not a prosthesis, but only a prosthetic component. The complete prosthesis would consist of the attachment system  to the residual limb — usually a "socket", and all the attachment hardware components all the way down to and including the terminal device.

Screen readers are used to help the visually impaired to easily access electronic information. These software programs run on a computer in order to convey the displayed information through voice (text-to-speech) or braille (refreshable braille displays) in combination with magnification for low vision users in some cases. There are a variety of platforms and applications available for a variety of costs with differing feature sets.

One example of screen readers is Apple VoiceOver. This software is provided free of charge on all Apple devices. Apple VoiceOver includes the option to magnify the screen, control the keyboard, and provide verbal descriptions to describe what is happening on the screen. There are thirty languages to select from.

Many people with serious visual impairments live independently, using a wide range of tools and techniques. Examples of assistive technology for visually impairment include screen readers, screen magnifiers, Braille embossers, desktop video magnifiers, and voice recorders.

Screen readers are used to help the visually impaired to easily access electronic information. These software programs run on a computer in order to convey the displayed information through voice (text-to-speech) or braille (refreshable braille displays) in combination with magnification for low vision users in some cases. There are a variety of platforms and applications available for a variety of costs with differing feature sets.

One example of screen readers is Apple VoiceOver. This software is provided free of charge on all Apple devices. Apple VoiceOver includes the option to magnify the screen, control the keyboard, and provide verbal descriptions to describe what is happening on the screen. There are thirty languages to select from.

Although the IDEA uses the term "device", it is important to recognize that assistive technology devices required by students with disabilities include hardware and software as well as stand-alone devices. Almost any tool can be considered to be an assistive technology device except for those assistive technology devices that are surgically implanted and have been excluded from the definition of an assistive technology device as defined in IDEA.

The definition of an assistive technology device is very broad and gives IEP teams the flexibility that they need to make decisions about appropriate assistive technology devices for individual students. Assistive technology includes technology solutions that are generally considered instructional technology tools, if they have been identified as educationally necessary and documented in the student's IEP. For example, a classroom computer with a word processing program can be considered assistive technology for a student who demonstrates difficulty in writing and spelling if the IEP team has determined that it is educationally necessary. Assistive technology devices can be purchased from a local store or a vendor that specializes in the production and sale of assistive technology devices.

These devices often need to be modified or customized to meet the individual needs of a student with a disability. For example, a computer keyboard may need to be adapted through the addition of tactile locator dots for a student with a visual impairment. When determining assistive technology needs, IEP teams should consider commercially available solutions that may be used "as is" or ones that can be modified to meet the student's unique needs. In some situations, it may be necessary to construct a device to meet the student's needs.

YOUR REACTION?

Facebook Conversations