Planning for Implementing Assistive Technology: A Functional Approach for Practitioners

Planning for Implementing Assistive Technology: A Functional Approach for Practitioners

Sharon M. Kolb (University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, USA) and Amy C. Stevens Griffith (University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0137-6.ch026
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Assistive Technology (AT) is an instructional tool that may benefit many students. Practitioners, especially classroom teachers, are aware of the benefits of AT but many have limited experience and knowledge resulting in poor assessment, planning, and implementing of assistive technology to positively impact student learning. The content in this chapter provides readers with the following information: (a) assistive technology defined and discussed through the lens of historical legislation, (b) assistive technology devices, (c) augmentative and alternative communication, (d) assistive technology assessment, (e) person centered planning as a framework for AT utilization, and concludes with (f) instructional programming based on AT assessment results.
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Assistive Technology Devices

Assistive technology devices can be grouped into two broad categories: “Low Tech” and “High Tech” devices. Low Tech devices are simple, with few or no moveable parts, often inexpensive, and easily accessible from stores and/or around the home or workplace. Examples of low tech AT include grips on spoons or pencils, slant boards, and study sheets to organize material. High Tech devices are more electronically complex or specialized manufactured equipment that is available through vendors and adaptive merchandise companies. Examples of high tech AT include voice output devices, word prediction programs, and switches to run electronic equipment or devices. Whether low tech or high, assistive technology can benefit students in curricular areas including language arts and mathematics or any other academic content. When strategically matched to the individual student, AT options can be of benefit in all academic content area including writing, reading, and math, as well as for studying and organization. A comprehensive list is found in Table 1 (Dell, Newton, & Petroff, 2008; Edyburn, 2003). In addition to their use to facilitate academic task completion, assistive technology devices are frequently useful to facilitate communicative behavior. When assistive technology is used to help a person communicate verbally or by other means such as pictures or written word, then the AT is called Augmentative or Alternative Communication.

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