Assistive technology is any tool or device as well as service that help a disabled person to complete everyday task. A remote control for TV for example can help you change a TV channel when you break your leg hence, an assistive tech device.
The technology includes a wide range of specialized devices such as typing telephones for the deaf and motorized wheelchairs for those with walking disabilities assistive expertise can be high tech or low tech. Therefore, a disabled person can always settle for a device that suits his or her personal needs.
Assistive expertise is very important for the person using it for instance, a person wearing glasses find it very hard to get through the day without them. It is for such reasons that Federal government recognizes the importance of the devices for students when it revised IDEA or Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1997 and in 2004.
According to the ACT, all school districts must keep in mind and allow for assistive technology for any child who needs special education. This means that for every kid receiving special learning service, the educational team must ask if there is any assistive device that will enhance, maintain or increase functional capabilities of the child. If the answer is yes, then the district must provide
- A qualified evaluator to complete assistive expertise evaluation
- If a device is recommended, the district or institution must provide
- If the kid, staff or any other person in the school needs training to use the device, then training must also be provided. This is to ensure that a disabled child enjoys learning just like all other students.
Problems that assistive technology addresses
There are many assistive devices including those that run off the shelf systems and can speak the text on the screen to magnify text in web browser, emails and word processors among other applications.
Optical character recognition devices and systems printed material and can speak text for example, Braille embossers than turn text files in various hard copy braille.
Standalone devices designed for the visually impaired including electronic book players and personal digital assistants that offer portable access to stationaries, appointment calendars, phone numbers and much more.
In a school environment, there are many types of learning disabilities that AT can address. They include
- Organization and memory
- Math and
- Listening among others
A child who struggles with Math and/or Organization and memory for instance can use a calculator that is hand held to keep scores while playing a game with another student. A teenage with dyslexia on the other hand can benefit from the technology by reading loudly to his or her employer’s online training kit or manual.
Basically, there is an assistive device for a wide range of problems. They include computer software and hardware as well as electronic devices. They are available on the internet and in many shops. Therefore, you must always choose the right device to address a given disability.
Instructional software is also widely used in schools to help students with disabilities learn with a lot of ease.
Choosing the right assistive technology
As mentioned above, the right assistive device can be very effective. Therefore, it is essential that you choose the right product. Work with a team of consultants and professionals to get an ideal AT. Experts are usually trained to match various assistive technologies to different needs so that an individual can operate more independently.
A team of experts may include family doctors, special and regular education teachers, rehabilitation engineers, speech language pathologists and other specialists in various consulting companies that manufacture the devices.
Note that choosing an AT device is a team effort but your input in person is very crucial. You are entitled to certain rights and remedies regarding the decision you settle for. Therefore, it is wise that you know about your rights and the rights of your child from Technical Assistance Alliance for Parent Centers and Parent Training and Information centers that are funded by federal government. The centers will also help you to get more information on AT programs.
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