Technology has long allowed individuals to do things they never thought possible, optimizing their capacity in a range of daily activities and environments. This certainly applies to children with disabilities. Assistive technology (AT) helps these children perform a skill or participate in an activity, increasing access and opportunities for success.
For a long time, individuals with disabilities used technologies designed specifically for them: Braille, TTY, etc. However, more recent advances have narrowed the distinction between technologies used by students with disabilities and their nondisabled peers.
AT guidelines help to define the process for considering, implementing, and evaluating technologies that equalize the learning experience for students of all abilities. These guidelines describe the continuum of AT from low- to high-tech; current federal and state laws and policies to include the Connecticut Birth to Three System through high school (ages 3—21); consideration of AT needs; assessment/evaluation; funding for AT; documentation; implementation and effectiveness; transition planning; administrative responsibilities; universal design for learning; formats for accessible instructional materials (AIM); the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS); and resources.
This latest version is intended to be interactive, with Web-based information and hyperlinked appendixes, and will be updated periodically as the AT continuum continues to expand. Through a collaborative effort across environments, parents, educators, administrators, and professionals can best determine how to foster the participation and utilization of AT services and devices that will deliver the greatest impact. The AT guidelines facilitate a review of the process, give structure to differing stages of development, offer examples of best practices and the AT continuum, clarify misconceptions, and give direction to ensure that accommodations that are needed to meet goals are attainable.
Success for the child or student with a disability is limited only by opportunity. The newest technologies are designed to facilitate growth and learning in children of all abilities. Opportunity will expand as new technologies continue to emerge, and this new interactive guideline document will lead you along the way.