What is Assistive Technology (AT)?

 Assistive technology is any kind of technology that can be used to enhance the functional independence of a person with a disability. Often, for people with disabilities, accomplishing daily tasks such as talking with friends, going to school and work, or participating in recreational activities is a challenge. Assistive Technology (AT) devices are tools to help to overcome those challenges and enable people living with disabilities to enhance their quality of life and lead more independent lives.

Assistive technology can be anything from a simple (low-tech) device such as a magnifying glass, to a complex (high-tech) device, such as a computerized communication system. It can be big — an automated van lift for a wheelchair — or small — a grip attached to a pen or fork by Velcro. Assistive technology can also be a substitute — such as an augmentative communication device that provides vocal output for a child who cannot communicate with her voice.



What are Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM)?

Accessible instructional materials, or AIM, are materials that are designed or converted in a way that makes them usable across the widest range of student variability regardless of format (print, digital, graphic, audio, video). IDEA (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) specifically focuses on accessible formats of print instructional materials. In relation to IDEA the term AIM refers to print instructional materials that have been transformed into the specialized formats of braille, large print, audio, or digital text.

From the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials



Useful Web Links:

Alliance for Technology Access (ATA) increases the use of technology by children and adults with disabilities and functional limitations.
The Trace Research & Development Center is a part of the College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Founded in 1971, Trace has been a pioneer in the field of technology and disability.
Learning Ally is national non-profit dedicated to helping blind, visually impaired and dyslexic students succeed in education.
Book Share opens up the world of reading for people with print disabilities. If you cannot read traditional print books because of a visual impairment, physical disability or severe learning disability, Bookshare can help!
The American Council of the Blind (ACB) is a membership organization of people who are blind and visually impaired. The site contains a number of resources on technology and policy issues.
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is a membership organization of people who are blind. The site contains resources on technology issues related to blind access.
Tiresias is an information resource for professionals who work in the field of visual disabilities. It includes a family of highly readable fonts which are widely accepted in Europe for use in accessible signage, etc.
Lighthouse International is a resource on vision impairment and vision rehabilitation, and has a number of special resources, including low vision simulation glasses and brochures on large print, color blindness, and other topics.
National Association of the Deaf (NAD) has information and programs on a variety of issues important to the deaf community and holds a biennial conference.
Self Help for Hard of Hearing People (SHHH) is an association representing consumers with hearing loss.
TDI (also known as Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc.) promotes equal access in telecommunication and media by people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, late-deafened, and deaf-blind.
Free Online OCR is a free web-based Optical Character Recognition software (OCR) that allows you to convert scanned PDF documents, faxes, and photographs into editable and searchable electronic documents.

Links to Publications:

Teacher’s Desk Reference: Assistive TechnologyThis issue of Teachers’ Desk Reference provides an overview of assistive technology and how it can benefit students both in school and in their everyday lives.
Technology Resources for Students Who Are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Deaf-BlindThis publication describes a variety of assistive equipment and technologies, both instructional and medical, that are currently available to assist individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind at home, in schools, and in the community.
Assistive Technology in the IEP: A Guide for IEP TeamsThe purpose of this brochure is to provide guidance to the special educators, related service providers, and parents as they develop Individual Education Programs (IEP) for students using assistive technology.
Assistive Technology for Students With Disabilities: A Closer Look at Acquisition and FundingThis guide provides information that is specific to local educational agencies (LEAs) in Pennsylvania about the elements of effective AT acquisition and funding.
Assistive Technology Resource Pack for Early Intervention Families and Professionals: Frequently Asked Questions: Some believe assistive technology (AT) is something that a child may not be needed by a child who is under three years of age, but AT may be used to help infants and toddlers to participate in daily activities and routines.
Does Your Child Struggle With Reading? Learn How Accessible Instructional Materials Can HelpThe Simon Technology Center, a project of PACER, is dedicated to making the benefits of technology more accessible to children and adults with disabilities, through a collaborative effort involving parents, professionals, and consumers.