Blogs About Reading
Aiming for Access
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
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:
- Assistive Technology 101 (PDF file)
- State Assistive Technology Programs
- State Assistive Technology Financial Loan Programs
- AT Exchange Networks
- AT for Infants, Toddlers and Young Children with Disabilities (PDF)
- Family Information Guide to Assistive Technology and Transition Planning (PDF file)
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:
- Where Can I Learn about the Different Types of Assistive Technology?
- Where Can I Get Help Finding and Paying for Assistive Technology?
- How Can Assistive Technology Help Children and Youth with Disabilities?
- How Can Assistive Technology Be Used at Work?
- How Can Information and Communications Technology Be Made Accessible?
- Where Can I Learn about New and Emerging Communications Technologies?
AIM-VAA 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.
Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with our Reading Rockets audience.