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Assistive Technology in Inclusive Classrooms

Assistive technology is any device that supports the independence of a person with a disability. Assistive technology can be something very simple and low-cost such as pencil grips or text highlighters, or something more sophisticated, such as a computer station with speech-to-text tools. Find many more assistive technology resources here: Topics A-Z: Assistive Technology.

The basics

Assistive Technology: What It Is and How It Works
Assistive technology (AT) can be an effective accommodation for children with learning and attention issues. Understanding what AT is and how it works is the first step toward finding the right tools for your child.

The Three Biggest Misconceptions About Assistive Technology
Are students who use assistive technology getting an unfair advantage? Will AT fix a student’s learning challenges? Here are the top three misconceptions about AT and how it is used in the classroom and at home.

Assistive Technology for Kids with Learning Disabilities: An Overview
If your child has a learning disability, he or she may benefit from assistive technology tools that play to their strengths and work around their challenges.

The SETT Framework for AT Tool Selection
Learn how to use the SETT (Student, Environment, Task, Tool) framework to identify a struggling student’s learning needs and match that with the most appropriate assistive technology options. A case study is provided.

Assistive Technology and the IEP
The law requires that public schools develop appropriate Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for each child. The IEP is a written plan for educating a child with a disability. The IEP describes the student’s specific special education needs as well as any related services, including assistive technology.

“Is Assistive Technology Cheating?” (and Other Assistive Technology Myths)

Assistive technology (AT) refers to a device or software that makes it easier to complete everyday tasks. Common forms of assistive tech for kids with learning and attention issues, like dyslexia or dysgraphia, include text-to-speech or dictation. But is assistive technology “cheating”? Does it give some kids an unfair advantage by making it easier for them than for others? Hear from Jamie Martin, assistive technology consultant, on these and other common myths about assistive technology tools. (From Understood (opens in a new window))

AT for literacy

Assistive Technology for Reading 
Assistive technology (AT) can be a powerful way to help children with reading issues, including kids with dyslexia. This guide is an introduction to AT tools for reading and where to find them.

Text-to-Speech Technology: What It Is and How It Works
Text-to-speech (TTS) is a type of assistive technology that reads digital text aloud. It’s sometimes called “read aloud” technology. TTS can take words on a computer or other digital device and convert them into audio. TTS is very helpful for kids who struggle with reading, but it can also help kids with writing and editing, and even focusing.

Text-to-Speech (TTS)
Learn the basics about text-to-speech, what the research says about how well it supports comprehension, tips on how to get the most out of the technology, and a short list of recommended text-to-speech tools. 

Assistive Technology for Writing 
Assistive technology (AT) can help kids with different types of writing challenges. AT tools can make the physical act of writing easier, as well as help kids who have trouble with spelling and grammar, and with organizing and expressing their thoughts. This guide provides an introduction to AT writing tools and where to find them.

Dictation (Speech-to-Text) Technology: What It Is and How It Works
Dictation is an assistive technology (AT) tool that can help kids who struggle with writing. Kids can use dictation to write with their voices, instead of writing by hand or with a keyboard — helpful for kids with dysgraphia, dyslexia and other learning and attention issues that impact writing. 

Exploring Digital Literacy Practices in an Inclusive Classroom
Get insight into how a 21st century literacies perspective can support inclusive literacy practices that create a community of learners, use digital tools to make the curriculum accessible, and link academic goals with real‐world platforms.

Responsibly Incorporating Technology into Literacy Instruction
In this overview, learn how to capitalize on the benefits of incorporating different types of technology in literacy instruction (such as electronic books, and reading intervention programs) while minimizing the potential pitfalls.

Accessible books for students


Bookshare (opens in a new window) is an ebook library that makes reading easier for students with reading barriers. Students can access a huge collection of ebooks in audio, audio + highlighted text, braille, large font, and other formats. Bookshare ebooks can be used on almost any device, including smartphones, tablets, Chromebooks, computers, and assistive technology devices.

Learning Ally

Learning Ally (opens in a new window) offers an extensive library of human-read audiobooks and a suite of educator tools and resources. It provides students who struggle to read due to a reading deficit with equitable access to all the books they need to and want to read, including curriculum-aligned text books and literature, popular fiction and more.

Video: educator voices

“I don’t want to look any different”

In an inclusive classroom, every student gets the same opportunity as all his peers to choose the tool that meets his learning needs. See our full video interview with public school assistive technology expert Beth Poss ›

A teacher’s view of assistive technology

In this video, teachers of students with a range of learning needs discuss the ways in which assistive technology can help. Teachers provide examples of low- to high-tech tools that are easily integrated into a classroom environment. You can also sit in on an IEP meeting where assistive technology supports are discussed.

More resources on assistive technology

Assistive Technology Basics (opens in a new window)
Discover a variety of resources for parents, including information about tool types and tips on how to work with schools. (

AEM Navigator (opens in a new window)
Explore a decision-making tool — designed for use by Individualized Education Program teams — that can help determine the need, selection, acquisition, and use of accessible educational materials. (National Center on Accessible Educational Materials)

TechMatrix (opens in a new window)
Search a database of over 400 assistive and educational technology tools and resources. The products are searchable by content area, grade level, IDEA disability category, and type of instructional support. (U.S Department of Education/American Institutes for Research)

Assistive Technology: An Overview (opens in a new window)
A professional development module that offers an overview of assistive technology and explores ways to expand students’ access to AT in the classroom. Estimated completion time: 2 hours. (IRIS Center/Vanderbilt University)