Assistive Technology for Students with Learning Disabilities

Instructor: Allison Camps

Allison has taught in elementary school inclusion classrooms and has her master's degree in Special Education.

This lesson will define assistive technology. It will provide examples of assistive technology and outline the benefits of using assistive technology with students with disabilities.

Eliminating Frustration

Thanksgiving is around the corner. Luckily, your sister is hosting the big feast, but she has asked you to be in charge of making an apple pie. Last Thanksgiving, you made the perfect apple pie. You pull out the recipe and an overwhelming feeling comes over you. You remember the hours it took you to peel all ten apples with a steak knife and cut them into perfect slices. You also remember a friend saying, 'Have you ever heard of a vegetable peeler and an apple slicer?' You run to the store and buy both items. Your pie comes out equally as great and it took you half the time. You even enjoyed the baking process!

In this case, the vegetable peeler and apple slicer assisted you to complete the task of baking the pie with less frustration. Assistive technology (AT) serves the same purpose for students with disabilities.

Assistive Technology

As defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), assistive technology is 'any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities.' In other words, assistive technology helps children with disabilities in their daily activities.

Who Utilizes Assistive Technology?

Students with disabilities will have a list of required AT on their Individual Educational Plan (IEP) (a documented plan to ensure that a student with disabilities receives the appropriate services and instruction to achieve his/her goals). The IEP team looks at the specific skills a student has trouble with or isn't able to do. The team then finds AT that matches the student's specific needs. AT helps the student complete tasks such as walking, seeing, speaking, typing, writing, recalling, or learning.

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