Assistive Technology Assessment: Tools & Examples

Instructor: April Gwen Ellsworth

April has a master's degree in psychology and has experience teaching special populations from preschoolers to adults.

Conducting an effective assessment can help to choose the best assistive technology tools to meet a student's needs at school, home, or other setting. Learn about the process and examples of assistive technology assessments here.

Assistive Technology Assessment

When a student with one or more disabilities has a need that is not being met, assistive technology, like devices and equipment, often provides the solution to greater achievement and independence. For special education students, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires individualized education program (IEP) teams to consider assistive technology in meeting a student's needs. A proper assessment process determines the best assistive technology tools for a student, while avoiding the purchase of obsolete equipment and unnecessary costs.

How to Conduct an Assessment

To determine the most appropriate assistive technology for a student, use the steps outlined below.

Identify the Area(s) of Need

Through a collaborative process with significant persons involved with a student, identify the task or tasks he/she has difficulty with. Answer the question: 'What is expected of the student that he/she currently is not able to accomplish because of his/her disability?'

Team members can include the student, family members, teachers, and instructional assistants; they may also include a speech/language pathologist, an audiologist, an occupational therapist, or other specialist. The family physician, a psychologist, and assistive technology specialists or providers may also be part of the team.

Determine Strengths

Identify the student's strengths and abilities by using diagnostic and informal assessments, input from the team, school records, and observations of the student. Checklists, either assessment-based or created, are very helpful in pinpointing a student's strengths and weakness.

Gather information about where a student might be performing tasks, and identify any possible barriers to performance. For example, find out if a visually impaired student already has an eyeglass prescription before considering the need for a video magnifier. Note the physical arrangement of the classroom and the materials, equipment, and supports already available to a student. Attitudes, expectations, and concerns of those involved with a student should also be considered.

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