Blogs About Reading

Aiming for Access

June Behrmann

June Behrmann is a longtime special education teacher (pre-K to grade 6) who retired for about two seconds, and is now prospecting for accessible instructional resources. Follow June on Twitter @aimnoncat. Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with us.

Confused About Assistive Technology? These Guides to AT Offer Answers, Resources

August 18, 2015

Assistive technology (AT) helps students with disabilities access their curriculum and close achievement gaps. Just who gets AT is a decision made by educational teams that operate differently across school systems nationwide. Some districts have AT specialists on staff with an inventory of supports, while others do not. 

AT can be any item, piece of equipment or product system from commercial vendors or taken off the shelf. These increase, maintain or improve someone's functional capacities from academic pursuits to mobility. Effective AT is both low-tech and high-tech. Tools that are chosen support a wide range of abilities. There is not one clear route that assures AT services will be considered and provided to students who struggle. Parents may need to ask about AT for a child to be considered for the service. 

AT does not guarantee that people with disabilities will have access to all information technology, according to the U.S. government's disability office. In the best world, "Accessibility of information technology (IT), such as websites and computer programs, is dependent on IT products being designed and created using principles of Universal Design so that they are useable by everyone, without the need for AT." Until technology is "born accessible," the road to AT will remain complex. 

Check out these and other “quick links” along with other resources about AT from the Technology section of Disability.gov website:

In addition, there is a guide to connecting consumers with programs, services, government agencies and organizations that can help find and pay for AT. Technology related laws and regulations, including the Assistive Technology Act (“Tech Act”) is explained in “Disability.gov’s Guide to Disability Rights Laws” or the Technology Laws and Regulations section of the website.

For more information about AT, check out selected parts of this guide:

AIM-VA

A federally funded Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) program supports eligible print disabled students in every state, including learners with dyslexia, learning disabilities, and vision or physical impairment, These student are provided alternatives to traditional books at no cost. AEM helps them learn with independence at school and at home or in the community. To learn more in Virginia, log onto the AIM-VA homepage. In other states, ask a special education teacher or school administrator about AEM under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and an exception to federal copyright law.

Remember to follow AIM-VA on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter at @AIMVirginia and/or follow me @aimnoncat. Subscribe to AIM-VA's new monthly newsletter. Sign up here.

Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with our Reading Rockets audience.

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"Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift." — Kate DiCamillo