The Special Services department at Woodstock District 200 has an assistive technology team that is available to meet with parents, teachers, and school teams to discuss and support the needs of students who are currently using assistive technology or other students who may benefit from assistive technology. The purpose of assistive technology is to help a person function more independently.
As stated in the Federal Definition, “Assistive technology device means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a child with a disability…” (Illinois Assistive Technology Guidance Manual)
Assistive technology is generally classified as low tech, mid tech, and high tech with the cost increasing as it goes up the continuum.
- Low Tech Examples: pencil grip, slant board, highlighters, magnifying glass
- Mid Tech Examples: calculator, books on CD, computer software programs
- High Tech Examples: laptop computer, powered wheelchair, Braille machines
- Assistive technology should always be matched to the person, rather than the person being matched to the technology.
- Low tech is usually tried first and then progression up the continuum until a match is made to meet the needs of the student.
- When assistive technology is being considered, the team looks at the student’s needs, the environment where it will be used, the task it will be used for, and the tool needed to do the task.
- Implementation is typically done on a trial basis, which may be four to six weeks. Over that time, there is documentation of effectiveness. Equipment may be rented or borrowed during the trial period.
Caution: assistive technology cannot give a person a skill that they are not developmentally or cognitively ready to do.
Common Myths about Assistive Technology
All assistive technology is “high tech” and expensive.
(There is a continuum of assistive technology from low tech to high tech.)
Only people with certain types of disabilities find assistive technology useful.
(Assistive technology can benefit numerous types of disabilities.)
Assistive technology is a magic cure-all for people with disabilities.
(Assistive technology cannot give a person a skill they are not developmentally or cognitively ready to do.)
Determining assistive technology needs is done only once.
(Assistive technology is an ongoing process as the person may change and their needs may change.)
Assistive technology is a luxury.
(It is not a luxury, it is something the person needs to help them achieve.)
The most expensive is always the best.
(Sometimes not, if the technology is too complex, hard to use or implement, it is often abandoned and consequently of no benefit to the person.)