What are assistive technologies (ATs) and how will millennium teachers use ATs to assist all learners? Assistive technologies can be defined as services or devices which allow students to meet their maximum potential. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires this provision for all students with disabilities as part of its mandate to provide learners with a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). ATs have been available and used by students with disabilities, but have been, at times, problematic for the education community. For the most part, the purpose of ATs has been misunderstood to apply only to those students with severe disabilities. School personnel often remain uninformed regarding the range of assistive technology services and products available to them. Too often the use of these technologies has set students with disabilities farther apart from the rest of the class. ATs have been perceived to provide even inappropriate or inequitable assistance to the learning process, and have made students without disabilities wonder why some of their peers get “special treatment.” Teachers of the new millennium should be sensitive to these issues as they learn the wide range of technologies available to all learners.
This work was previously published in the Encyclopedia of Distance Learning, Volume 4, edited by C. Howard, J. Boettcher, L. Justice, K. Schenk, P. Rogers, and G. Berg, pp. 1938-1939, copyright 2005 by Information Science Reference, formerly known as Idea Group Reference (an imprint of IGI Global).