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DefinitionAssistive Technology (AT) is anything used by individuals with disabilities to facilitate them in performing functions that are otherwise very difficult or even impossible. AT can include everything from mobility devices to hardware and/or software that aid in communication and understanding to simple accommodations that make computer operation more accessible.
The government definition: Assistive technology (AT) can be defined as 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 individuals with disabilities (29 U.S.C. Sec 2202(2))






Overview
pboardsm.jpgIn 1998 the Assistive Technology Act passed, providing federal funding to support school programs in the purchase and use of assistive technology for students with disabilities. In 2004 the AT act was changed to include a requirement that states also provide funds to individuals with disabilities to be sure that they would have access to the technology they need. It is estimated that around 50,000,000 persons with disabilities depend on AT to be successful in school, go on to higher education, get good jobs, go to work and to participate in local and national communities. As educators, it is imperative that we support the acquisition and use of these technologies in a proactive way; we need to know how technology works, what is out there and how to connect this knowledge to student needs.

Here is some information on what AT allowances and requirements look like on an IEP:


AT & IEP's
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Example of Assistive Technology on an IEP
(An Example of Assistive Technology on an IEP)
Assistive technology is one of the special factors that must be addressed in the development, review, and revision of each student’s IEP. Minimal compliance with the requirement to consider assistive technology is responding to the statement in the IEP which states "Does the student require assistive technology devices and services? Yes No If yes, describe: ". If the IEP team determines that the student requires assistive technology, then the IEP must include a description of the assistive technology that is required.The following are examples of how assistive technology may be addressed in the consideration of special factors:
1. Does the student require assistive technology devices and services?
X Yes No If yes, describe: Johns requires the use of a talking calculator for all math activities that require calculation.

2. Does the student require assistive technology devices and services?
X Yes No If yes, describe: Paula needs access to adaptive seating and positioning equipment (prone stander, wedge) in her classes in order to participate in her educational program.

3. Does the student require assistive technology devices and services?
X Yes No If yes, describe: Karen uses an augmentative communication device with speech output to supplement her current communication skills. See present performance levels and annual goals and objectives for additional information.

Listing of Special Education and Related Services:Assistive technology may also addressed in the special education and related services component of the IEP. Typically assistive technology is provided as a part of the student’s special education and related services and assistive technology devices and services are addressed within these services. There may be times however when assistive technology needs should be addressed separately. The following are examples of how IEP teams may address assistive technology in this component of the IEP:

Speech-Language Therapy 1 hour per week 8-15-00 through 6-10-01
Or
Speech-Language Therapy 1 hour per week 8-15-00 through 6-10-01
(including training in augmentative communication device)


Supplementary Aids and Services:
Assistive technology may also be addressed in the supplemental aids and services component of the IEP. Assistive technology is often provided as a supplemental aid and service when it is required for the children to function in the general education setting. The following are examples of how assistive technology may be addressed in the supplemental aids and services section:

Jessica will have access to a portable word processor for all note taking in her general education classes.

Sarah will have access to a calculator for all math activities in her general education classes.

Instructional Modifications or Supports for School Personnel:
When addressing assistive technology, IEP teams should document the instructional modifications that the student needs in order to participate in and benefit from his or educational programs. Additionally, the IEP team should address the supports that the school staff requires in order for them to effectively provide assistive technology devices and services to the student. The following are examples of how assistive technology should be addressed in this section of the IEP:
Christopher's teachers will receive training in the use and programming of his augmentative communication device.

Michelle's special education and general education teachers will be provided with follow-up training and technical assistance as needed to aid them in integrating the use of her assistive technology devices (spell checker, word processor) into her school curriculum.





Resources
Websiteshttp://standards.gov/assistivetechnology.cfm
This is a government site that gives information about federal laws that impact AT, accessibility guidelines and standards, AT classification and resources.

http://www.ataccess.org/
Through public education, information and referral, capacity building in community organizations, and advocacy/policy efforts, the ATA (Alliance for Technology Access) seeks to increase the use of technology by children and adults with disabilities and functional limitations.


http://www.closingthegap.com/Closing The Gap is a website, magazine and annual international conference that provides professionals, parents and consumers with the information and training necessary to best locate, compare and implement assistive technology into the lives of persons with disabilities.

http://www.enablemart.com/
Enable mart is a website for advertising and selling new technologies available for assisting persons with disabilities; this makes it a good place to check in on to stay on top of what technology is available.

http://www.atia.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1
The Assistive Technology Industry Association is an organization for collecting and reviewing AT industry products so as to provide as much information to persons with disabilities, in need of services and/or products. At this site, one could learn more about the technology side of AT.

http://www.atp.ne.gov/#
The Assistive Technology Partnership is an example of a state based site for Assistive Technology. This Nebraska government website helps with aspects such as finding funding for AT or applying for services. The website is easy to use for people who may have a family member who is in need of AT or for someone who does not know much about AT. This also has a section for educators to help them find services in their area.

http://atto.buffalo.edu/
This website is through the University of Buffalo and is based around AT use at the Elementary level. It includes tutorials on how to use specific programs, a way to help find the right AT and links to national resources available.

http://www.abledata.com
This website helps locate companies that sell AT products. It has a search by state which can help you find programs in your state that sell, loan, and demonstrate AT.

http://cqc.ny.gov/advocacy/assistive-technology
This website is a New York State based program whose goal is to increase the access and acquisition of assistive technology.



Blogs
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http://www.disabledandproductive.com/tag/assistive-technology/
Disabled and Productive is a website that showcases articles, stories and blog posts by and about people with disabilities who have developed and/or are using some sort of adaptation to assist them in leading productive lives.


http://assistivetek.blogspot.com/p/assistive-technology-reference-guide.html
Blog with information about AT in the classroom, what technologies there are, reasons for educators to stay on top of what is available and how to use these technologies to best help their students who need them.


http://www.assistivetechnology.vcu.edu/
This blog highlights different assistive technologies every weekday. Each post has to do with either new or innovative assistive technologies or important issues in the field of assistive technology.

http://www.livebinders.com/play/play_or_edit?id=61925
This is a collection of blogs separated by category. It is very easily navigated and can help find a blog about AT in specific subjects.




Videos



This short video helps to explain what Assistive Technology is and what it can do for people. It also mentions some places to go to find help with finding the right assistive technology.


















This video shows examples of Assistive Technology for students as well as elderly people who might need them and what the technologies look like in use.























This video explains some basic information about Assistive Technology and how it relates to Special Education, especially in relation to IEPs. This video also answers some frequently asked questions about Assistive Technology.