Assistive Technology for Multiple Disabilities

Instructor: Abigail Cook
Students with multiple disabilities have unique and severe educational challenges. Let's look at how assistive technology can help them gain better access in the classroom.

Multiple Disabilities

When a student is diagnosed with multiple disabilities, it means they have simultaneous impairments that cause severe educational challenges. Simultaneous impairments might be, for example, intellectual disabilities and orthopedic impairments, or blindness and intellectual disabilities. With the challenges presented by both disabilities, the student's academic needs can't be effectively met by addressing one disability or the other. It's the combination of the two disabilities that presents unique and severe educational barriers, and both disabilities must be addressed.

Students with multiple disabilities may have the following challenges in the classroom:

  • Difficulty maneuvering around the school or classroom
  • Trouble sitting in certain positions for a long period of time
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills such as grasping and pinching
  • Barriers to communicating with teachers and peers

Due to the complexity of coping with two or more disabilities, students with multiple disabilities often require the use of assistive technology, which helps students succeed in the classroom. Keep in mind that every child is different and will require their own unique set of accommodations and services. As we explore how assistive technology can help, look for ideas that may work for particular students in your classroom.

Assistive Technology

Assistive technology is any tool or device that helps give a student more access to their environment and function in the classroom. Such tools also provide a way for students to gain independence, because they are able to do more for themselves and rely less on others. Once it is determined that a student requires assistive technology, the specifics about the devices and how they will be used is written into the Individualized Education Plan (IEP). This legally binding document will hold teachers accountable for the use of the device in the classroom.

Let's take a look at a few examples of assistive technology and how it may benefit students with multiple disabilities in the areas of communication, mobility and vision.

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