As a special education teacher, my job is to provide students with access to the curriculum. Every child had a specific need, and it is up to me to make sure that I accommodate them.
One way is through Assistive Technology. AT is 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 the functional capabilities of children with disabilities.
Assistive technology expands a child’s learning opportunity, helps them meet instructional goals outlined in their IEP, allows them to be productive and independent, and will enable them to access the curriculum alongside their peers.
When you hear the word Assistive “technology,” your mind probably thinks about a device, such as a computer or iPad. AT is much more than that. AT devices, when used correctly, can support a student, increase their independence, and give them access to the curriculum.
There are so many options to choose from. For example, there are low-tech devices (sticky notes, small whiteboards, pencil grips, timers, manual wheelchair, books on CD, etc.) and high-tech devices (text to speech software, power wheelchairs, speech recognition software, augmentative communication tools, etc.)
If you’re a parent with a special needs child, you have to consider every opportunity to make sure your child is successful. Partner with the team at your child’s school to meet and determine if your child qualifies for AT.
Some questions you should ask are:
- What are the specific needs and challenges? In what academic skill areas does he/she struggle?
- How will the AT device give the child access to the curriculum?
- Can this device be used at school and at home?
- Based on my child’s disability, is a low-tech or high-tech device the best option?
- What training is required to use the device?
- How long will the solution be appropriate?
And, always remember that the best solution may not be the most technologically advanced, but the one that gives your child access to the curriculum.
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