Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Assistive Technology: What, Why, and How

05/04/2016 | Published by: Family to Family Network

So what is assistive technology (AT)?

The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) defines AT as “any item, piece of equipment, or product … that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability.”

It may be as simple as an adapted grip for a pencil – or it can involve advanced technology, such as voice recognition software.

Depending on your child’s need, you may be able to access AT through the school district. A slant board can accommodate writing. A talking calculator can help with math. Or a cup with a cut-out rim can assist with drinking. 

There are many types of AT. It can be high-tech, like an iPad app to help a student communicate — it can be low-tech, like a wall calendar that helps a child organize their day.

AT can assist with movement, communication, reading, writing, speech, organization, and hearing. AT can help in managing most activities of everyday life.

AT can help ensure that students with disabilities receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). And it can provide access to the general curriculum, more peer interaction, and increased independence. AT can add to a child’s self-esteem and overall quality of life.

The ARD Committee should consider the AT needs of every student who receives special education. Sometimes the team will request an AT evaluation to assess the child’s needs. This process may be fairly simple, or it may involve several professionals and types of AT. The parents’ input should be considered.

If the team decides that the student needs an AT device or service, the recommendation should be written in the student’s IEP. AT can be stated as:

  • A goal
  • A related service
  • An accommodation for assessments
  • A supplementary aid or service
  • A part of the transition plan

If recommended in the IEP, AT devices and services must be provided at no cost to the parents.  The school district is not required to provide the best and latest technology available, but the AT device or service must meet the need of the student.

Learn more about how assistive technology can help your child.

The TATN Conference & Resource Fair is a great chance for parents explore the many options available. The Texas Assistive Technology Network (TATN) Conference and Resource Fair will be held on June 14 & 15, 2016. The event takes place at Region 4 Education Service Center (7145 West Tidwell, Houston, 77092).

For details about the conference, contact Kirk Behnke at 713-744-6559 or ––or visit the TATN Conference website.

You can also learn more about assistive technology on this website at Assistive Technology and Adaptive Equipment for Children with Disabilities


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