What is Assistive Technology?
Assistive technology is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of students with disabilities when other modifications or accommodations do not sufficiently allow the student to perform to their true ability and/or equally access the curriculum.
The term Assistive Technology encompasses a large range of devices from low tech to high tech learning tools. AT ranges from simple adaptive tools (like highlighters and organizers) to high-tech tools (like text-to-speech software).
Assistive technology must be considered for every student receiving special education services. According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), educators are required to consider assistive technology (§34 C.F.R300.346.2.(v)), and to provide assistive technology for students who require it for Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) (§34 C.F.R.300.6 (b))
Parents, and the student, if appropriate, should be invited to participate in all aspects of the process. They can provide valuable information regarding fitting, customizing, and adapting the technology to their child Parents, and the student, if appropriate, should be invited to participate in all aspects of the process. They can provide valuable information regarding fitting, customizing, and adapting the technology to their child. Consideration discussions at IEP Meetings are guided by the SETT Process developed by Joy Zabala.
SETT stands for:
Student: Student's strengths, weaknesses, interests
Environment: How the student functions in different environments at school
Task: What the student needs to be able to do
Tools: How best to meet the student's needs, considered in the Student, Environment and Task sections.
Consideration leads to one of the following outcomes:
- The student independently accomplishes tasks in instructional areas with standard classroom tools, accommodations or modifications. No assistive technology is required.
- The student accomplishes tasks in all instructional areas with currently available assistive technology. Assistive technology is required.
- The student does not accomplish tasks in the instructional areas. Required assistive technology is known and potential need was addressed in the last evaluation. Trials with potential devices or technology are written in the IEP.
- The student does not accomplish tasks in all instructional areas. Appropriate assistive technology solutions are not known to the IEP team and a more in-depth assessment is needed.
Tech Talk Parent Newsletters
The Tech Talk Assistive Technology Newsletters are publications written by the Region 11 MN Regional Low Incidence Projects-Assistive Technology Community of Practice. Funding for these publications are made possible through a grant from the MN Dept. of Education.
These newsletters can also be accessed directly through the following link:
Assistive Technology Resource Links
PACER's Simon Technology Center
The PACER Center is a Minneapolis-based parent training and information center for families of children with disabilities. The Simon Technology Center is just one of PACER's programs and it provides a variety of services for children, their families and professionals. These include services such as technology consultations, a lending library, individualized training sessions, and inservices and workshops.
Bookshare is an accessible online library for individuals with qualifying print disabilities. If your student has a visual impairment, a physical disability, or a severe learning disability that significantly impacts their use of printed materials, they may qualify for membership. Qualifying members have access to over 400,000 titles (including textbooks) and these digital books can be read to students on computers, tablets and smartphones.
National Center on Accessible Educational Materials
The National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) provides resources and technical assistance to anyone interested in the implementation of Accessible Educational Materials. These are print and technology-based educational materials that are designed or converted in a way that makes them usable for the widest range of students possible.