Considering Assistive Technology

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Nov 17, 2013 (4 years and 7 months ago)


Considering Assistive Technology


September 22
24, 2013

Cecelia Coppenbarger

Fort Osage School District

Fred Pellerito Ed.D.

Midway R
1 School


What does “consider assistive technology” mean on the IEP?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) lists
five special factors that the IEP
team must conside
r in the development, review, and revision of each child’s IEP.

On item (v)
the law states that in the development of the IEP, the team must
consider whether the child needs
assistive technology

devices and services. [§300.324(a)(2)].

The Individuals with

Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines AT as both a device


Assistive Technology Device

Any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf,
modified, or customize, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a
child with a disability.

This does not include medical device
s that are surgically implanted, or their replacement, but
does include both high and low technology.
Remember, assistive technology considerations are
designed to level the playing field for students with special needs, not maximize their
educational expe
rience (
Rowley v. Hendrick Hudson School District).

Assistive Technology Service

Any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an
assistive technology device.

In the past,
assistive technology was on
ly thought about for children with very severe disabilities
or only for those with physical and speech disabilities. The passage of IDEA ’97 is the first time
that each IEP team in every school district has been specifically required and mandated to
er assistive t


children with disabilities, regardless of disability
, and as is
true for other special factors, consideration must be individualized. Assistive technology services
include evaluating the child to see if he or she could benef
it from using an assistive device.
These services also include providing the devices and training the child (or family or the
professionals who work with the child) to use the device.

For many children, the first

is whether the child’s IEP ca
n be implemented
satisfactorily in the regular educational environment with the use of supplementary aids and
services. Since AT devices or services can be provided as supplementary aids or services, a
child’s IEP team may need to consider whether a partic
ular child requires a particular AT device
or service, or whether school personnel require aid or support to enable a child with a disability
to be educated satisfactorily in the regular education environment.

Section 300.320(a)(4) of IDEA requires the
IEP team to include a statement of the special
education and related services and supplementary aids and services, based on peer
research to the extent practicable, to be provided to the child, or on behalf of the child. This
would include any AT
devices and services (determined by the IEP team) that the child needs in
order for the child to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

The I
EP team may also need to consider whether a child with a disability may need to use a

AT device in settings other than school, such as the child’s home or other parts
of the community, in order for the child to receive FAPE.

For many years, mostly due to the low availability of assistive technology items, professionals
and parents focused

on attaining a certain device, believing that the equipment alone was going
to make the difference. We now know that the selection of the right technology is influenced by
several factors including the abilities of the student, his/her family's culture an
d value system, the
environment in which the technology is used and previous experiences with devices and

Although assistive technology has the potential to extend the abilities of a child, a thorough
assessment should always precede the acqui
sition of the device. In determining the assistive
technology needs of a child, consider:

the abilities of a child; his/her interests and preferences

the family's culture and value system

the environment it will be used in

the functional tasks for part
icipating in daily routines

available materials and technologies


to his/her participation

ongoing intervention and evaluation

After considering the above factors, the next logical question to ask would be:

Would assistive technology of
some kind enable the student to meet the goal?

Areas to consider include, but are not necessarily limited to:

• Handwriting

• Spelling

• Reading

• Math

• Written expression

• Daily organization

• Communication

• Mobility

• Seating/positioning


• Seeing

• Self

• Levels of independence

• Cognitive processing

Midway School

Assistive Technology Consideration Guide

1. What task is it that we want this student to do, that s/he is unable to do at a level that reflects his/her skills/abiliti
(writing, reading, communicating, seeing, hearing)? Document by checking each relevant task below. Please
leave blank any tasks

that are not relevant to the student’s IEP.

2. Is the student currently able to complete tasks with special strategies or accommodations? If yes, describe in
Column A for each checked task.

3. Is there available assistive technology (either devices, to
ols, hardware, of software) that could be used to address
this task? (If none are known, review AT Checklist.) If any assistive technology tools are currently being used
(or were tried in the past), describe in Column B.

4. Would the use of assistive tec
hnology help the student perform this skill more easily or efficiently, in the least
restrictive environment, or perform successfully with less personal assistance? If yes, complete Column C.


A. If currently
completes task with
special strategies /

B. If currently
completes task with
assistive technology
tools, describe.

C. Describe new or
additional assistive
technology to be tried.


Aspects of Writing

Computer Access

Composing Written




Learning/ Studying



and Leisure

Activities of

Daily Living




and Seating



In your IEP team meeting there should
be a discussion about assistive technology after goals
have been developed for the upcoming year. Considerations about assistive technology cannot be
established until specific tasks that your child will be trying to accomplish

are discussed

The "best" s
olutions fit the required task, taking into consideration the modification of the
activity and/or the learning materials. Single solutions will not meet all of the student's needs; a
combination of strategies works best

School districts are required under
law to provide appropriate AT to students with disabilities
when it supports their acquisition of a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). In order to
support the inclusion and participation of students with disabilities in regular education
oms, all IEP's developed for children identified as needing special education services,
must indicate that AT has been considered to "to provide meaningful access to the general
curriculum" (IDEA, 1997). More specifically, IDEA indicates that AT devices an
d services must
be made available to a child with a disability if required as a part of the child's

Special education;

Related services; or

Supplementary aids and services.

There have been several clarifications from the Office of Special Education an
d Rehabilitative
Services (OSERS) on the use of AT by students with disabilities. These include:

AT must be provided by the school district at no cost to the family.

AT must be determined on a case
case basis; it is required if needed to ensure access

to free and
appropriate public education (FAPE).

If the IEP team determines that AT is needed for home use to ensure FAPE, it must be provided

The student's IEP must reflect the nature of the AT and amount of supportive AT services required.

A parent i
s accorded an extensive set of procedural safeguards, including the provision of AT to the child.

Keep in mind that AT is any item that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional
capabilities of a child with a disability. For some students with disabilities, AT may be the

that access to the general curriculum can be ensured!

Prior to the IEP Meeting

Collect information about the student, the environments where the student experiences
barriers to meeting IEP goals or accessing the curriculum, and the tasks the student needs
to accomplish

Collect information about the adapt
ations, accommodations, and AT options that have
been tried to date to assist the student in overcoming barriers to learning.

Collect information regarding school site and district resources and options which might
help the student to overcome barriers to
learning. Contact special education process
coordinator to initiate referral to district Assistive Technology Team.

During the IEP Meeting

Describe the student’s present level of educational performance.

Identify areas of concern.

Identify annual

Continue to recommend school
site resources and interventions until the student’s needs
are met. Or the team determines that further assessment is necessary.

Document assistive technology decisions made during the meeting under Special
s on the IEP.

When More Information is Needed

Complete a Request for Assistive Technology Referral Form through Special Education
Process Coordinator

Obtain written consent to further evaluate the child’s need for assistive technology

Develop an assist
ive technology assessment plan

After the Meeting

Arrange for any needed assistive technology to be obtained.

Develop an implementation plan which includes student training, staff training, device
maintenance and ongoing evaluation procedures.

Implement th
e plan, OR

Implement the assessment plan.

Reconvene the IEP meeting to review progress and modify the IEP if necessary.

Adapted from
Assistive Technology Model Operating Guidelines
, by the Oregon Technology Access Program and Georgia
Project for
Assistive Technology

The SETT Framework

SETT Framework
is a tool that helps teams gather and organize information that can be used to
guide collaborative decisions about services that foster the educational success of students with

is an acronym for
Student, Environment, Tasks, and Tools

SETT framework
is based on the premise that in order to develop an appropriate system of Tools
devices, services, strategies, accommodations, etc) Teams must first develop a shared

understanding of the student, the customary environments in which the student spends time, and the tasks
that are required for the student to be able to do, or learn to do, in order to be an active participant in the
teaching/learning process that will le
ad to educational success. When the needs, abilities, and interest of
the Student; the details of the Environment; and the specific Tasks required of students to perform in
these environments are fully explored, teams are then able to consider what needs t
o be included in a
system of tools that is Student
centered, Environmentally
useful, and Task


It is important to realize that this outline of questions to consider in each area of the SETT Framework
was developed as a guideline and a place to st
art. Teams gathering and acting upon this data may wish to
seek answers to numerous additional questions. In virtually every case, however, any questions which
arise will relate to one of the areas of the SETT Framework.

The Student

What does the Student n
eed to do?

What are the Student's special needs related to the task?

What are the student’s current abilities?

What does the student need to be able to do that is difficult or impossible to accomplish
independently at this time?

What are the functional are
as of concern?

The Environments

What are the instructional and physical arrangements of the environment?

Are there special concerns?

What materials and equipment are currently available in the environments?

What supports are available to the student and
the people working with the student on a daily

How are the attitudes and expectations of the people in the environment likely to affect the
student's performance?

The Tasks
(Be as specific as possible)

What activities occur in the student's natural

environments which en
able progress toward mastery
identified IEP goals?

What is everyone else doing?

What are the critical elements of the activities?

How might the activities be modified to accommodate the student's special needs?

What specific tasks
are required for active

involvement in the identified environments

such as
communication and participation?

The SETT Framework

A Collaborative Planning and Decision Making Tool

Student _____________________Date ___________________
Perspective ________________

PART 1: Examining Current Conditions to Consider Educational Need




© Joy Zabala, 1998. Permission granted to use if credits are retained.

Please provide feedback on effectiveness and suggestions for modifications/revisions by email to

PART 2: Consideration of the Tool System





Services or tools to consider

(no tech/low tech/high

Tool Availability

Services required for effective use








Availability key

S= Tools / devices systematically
available to all students served

P= Tools / devices programmatically available through special education or other program for which student qualified

A= Additional tools / devices which may be required to address identified needs.

© Joy Zab
ala, 1998. Permission granted to use if credits are retained





Location: _________________________________ Observer(s)




Form provided by Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative, 9/97©


being observed

Ways that typical

students participate

Ways the target

student participates

Barriers to target

student’s participation



and/or AT

Fort Osage School District

Process for an Assistive Technology Evaluation

Procedure for consultation for a student receiving special services:


Contact the
building process coordinator for an assistive technology referral form


Complete the referral form


Return the completed form to the building process coordinator.


Process coordinator will contact the Assistive Technology Team (with completed form
and curren
t IEP).


Assistive Technology Team will conduct observations and provide input and/or devices
to use on a trial bases as needed per individual student.

Procedure for assistive technology evaluation prior to eligibility:


Process coordinator gives the
assistive technology referral from to the classroom teacher
IF the team determines that assistive technology is an area to be evaluated.


Classroom teacher completes referral form (including strengths and weaknesses).


Classroom teacher returns the completed

form to the building process coordinator.


Process coordinator will contact the Assistive Technology Team to request an evaluation.


Assistive Technology Team will conduct an evaluation and send their report to the
building process coordinator.

Adapted fro
m Warrensburg School District
Assistive Technology Manual

Categories of Assistive Technology

Because assistive technology applications are intended to decrease the functional limitations of a
person with a disability, potential applications can in
clude some of the following categories:

Adaptive Toys
: This includes the use of commercially available battery operated toys to allow
infants and toddlers to experience control over their environment despite severe physical
restrictions or motor contro
l deficits.

: Single and potentially multiple switch access methods can allow the person with
even the most severe disability to achieve control over many different aspects of their
environment, including play, communication, education, environ
mental control, mobility, and
perhaps employment.

Environmental Controls
: Devices and technologies designed specifically to allow a person to
experience better control of their environment can increase one's independence and ability to
perform routine

Augmentative and Alternative Communication

(AAC): AAC includes any technology
application that results in the improvement of a person's communication with individual, in
groups and even by way of telephone. AAC involves maximizing of specific la
nguage concepts
and strategies to enable the non
verbal person to more actively interact with their environment.
Sensory Disabilities: Many forms of assistive technology can enhance our sensory interactions
by modifying the means by which information is re
ceived to accommodate our sensory
limitation, or by re
routing the information to a form where other senses can be involved. The
quickness and efficiency by which various technologies can be used in this regard result in very
effective accommodations.

Alternative Learning Strategies
: Somewhat similar to sensory disabilities, alternative
learning strategies can be developed for individuals with specific learning deficits. By
capitalizing on the strengths of the individual, computer based adaptive learnin
g hardware and
software can enhance the overall learning experience.

Adaptive Computer Access
: Computers can be adapted through a variety of methods
enable alternative input control or output required by the person with a disability. These
adaptations may be in the form of additional hardware, software, or a combination of the two.
Most computer operating systems today allow for customization of the

computer control process
to accommodate nearly any special needs of the individual wi1h a disability. Several
input devices

that allow individuals to control their computers through means other than a
standard keyboard or pointing device incl

Alternative keyboards

featuring larger

or smaller
standard keys or keyboards,
alternative key configurations, and keyboards for use with one hand.

Electronic pointing devices

used to control the cursor on the screen without use of hands.
Devices used include ultrasound, infrared beams, eye movements, nerve signals, or brain

puff systems

activated by inhaling or exhaling.

Wands and sticks

worn on the head, held

in the mouth or strapped to the chin and used to
press keys on the keyboard


manipulated by hand, feet, chin, etc. and used to control the cursor on screen.


movable balls on top of a base that can be used to move the cursor on screen

Touch screens

allow direct selection or activation of the computer by touching the screen,
making it easier to select an option directly rather than through a mouse movement or
keyboard. Touch screens are either built into the computer monitor or can be

added onto a
computer monitor.

screen keyboards

provide an image of a standard or modified keyboard on the
computer screen that allows the user to select keys with a mouse, touch screen, trackball,
joystick, switch, or electronic pointing device. On
screen keyboards often have a scanning
option that highlights individual keys that can be selected by the user. On
screen keyboards
are helpful for individuals who are not able to use a standard keyboard due to dexterity or
mobility difficulties.


are typing aids such as word prediction utilities and add
on spelling
checkers that reduce the required number of keystrokes. Keyboard filters enable users to
quickly access the letters they need and to avoid inadvertently selecting keys they don
't want.

Reading tools and learning disabilities programs

include software and hardware
designed to make text
based materials more accessible for people who have difficulty with
reading. Options can include scanning, reformatting, navigating, or speaking

text out loud.
These programs are helpful for those who have difficulty seeing or manipulating
conventional print materials; people who are developing new literacy skills or who are
learning English as a foreign language; and people who comprehend better
when they hear
and see text highlighted simultaneously.

Screen enlargers, or screen magnifiers
work like a magnifying glass for the computer by
enlarging a portion of the screen which can increase legibility and make it easier to see items
on the computer
. Some screen enlargers allow a person to zoom in and out on a particular
area of the screen.

Speech recognition or voice recognition programs
, allow people to give commands and
enter data using their voices rather than a mouse or keyboard. Voice recogniti
on systems use
a microphone attached to the computer, which can be used to create text documents such as
letters or e
mail messages, browse the Internet, and navigate among applications and menus
by voice.

Talking and large
print word processors

are softw
are programs that use speech
synthesizers to provide auditory feedback of what is typed. Large
print word processors
allow the user to view everything in large text without added screen enlargement.

Specifically for Blind and Low Vision Students



transfer computer generated text into embossed Braille output. Braille
translation programs convert text scanned
in or generated via standard word processing
programs into Braille, which can be printed on the embosser.

Light signaler alerts

tor computer sounds and alert the computer user with light
signals. This is useful when a computer user can not hear computer sounds or is not
directly in front of the computer screen. As an example, a light can flash alerting the user
when a new e
mail me
ssage has arrived or a computer command has completed.

Refreshable Braille displays

provide tactile output of information represented on the
computer screen. A Braille "cell" is composed of a series of dots. The pattern of the dots
and various combinations

of the cells are used in place of letters. Refreshable Braille
displays mechanically lift small rounded plastic or metal pins as needed to form Braille
characters. The user reads the Braille letters with his or her fingers, and then, after a line
is read,

can refresh the display to read the next line.

Screen readers

are used to verbalize, or "speak," everything on the screen including text,
graphics, control buttons, and menus into a computerized voice that is spoken aloud. In
essence, a screen reader tran
sforms a graphic user interface (GUI) into an audio interface.
Screen readers are essential for computer users who are blind.

Speech (TTS) or speech synthesizers

receive information going to the screen in
the form of letters, numbers, and punctuati
on marks, and then "speak" it out loud in a
computerized voice. Using speech synthesizers allows computer users who are blind or
who have learning difficulties to hear what they are typing and also provide a spoken
voice for individuals who can not communi
cate orally, but can communicate their
thoughts through typing.

TTY/TDD conversion modems

are connected between computers and telephones to
allow an individual to type a message on a computer and send it to a TTY/TDD telephone
or other Baudot equipped device.

AT Resources

AAC Intervention

This site is full of great tips and strategies for using Augmentative Communication with

Make sure to check out the Tips, Tricks, and Cheat Sheets as well as the Tip of
the M

Software setups and other

products from Caroline Musselwhite and Julie
Maro are available from this site.

Explanation of
Color Coding

for picture
communication symbols is at


AAC Service Delivery with Children: Twenty Frequently
Asked Questions

This is a good overview about augmentative commu
nication, giving answers to
frequently asked questions with references. Copyright 1997, Cynthia J. Cress, University
of Nebraska


Assistive Technology Solutions


nformation and resources for a range of assistive technology.


This is a searchable databases that contains data from the ABLEDATA Sponsored by the
National Institut
e on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, There are over 17,000
assistive technology products listed including everything from wheelchairs to reachers to
computer keyboards. Some of the product records contain pictures.

Apple Computer's

This site provides information on adaptations for Macintosh computers.

They also have
an extensive shareware library for downloading software.

stive Technology for Kansans

Assistive Tech programs in Kansas with helpful resources

Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA)

profit me
mbership organization of manufacturers, sellers and providers of
based assistive devices and/or services

Assistive Technology Training Online,

Center for Assistive Technology, University at

Simple, free online training for Assistive Technology and some tutorials on software.

Association of Tech Act Projects (ATAP)

for the 56 state and territory Tech A
ct projects.

Barkley Augmentative and Alternative Communication: University of Nebraska

University of Nebraska
Lincoln site with information related to Augmentative and
Communication. The site includes AAC Device programming tutorials,
definitions of AAC terms, frequently used vocabulary lists for different age groups and
other resources and other information related

to augmentative communication.


This is an accessible on
line library for students with disabilities.

Chatboard for teachers of students with special needs



web based bulletin board with posting of genera
l topics for special educators.

Closing the Gap

They have an online, searchable version of their

Resource Directory for computer
products for people with special needs, including software and hardware.

They also have
an online archive of articles from Closing the Gap Newsletter.

This is a great site with information and resources as well as free printable picture
symbols and charts to use for visual schedules and steps within tasks. This site was
originally designed for children on the Autism spectrum an
d children with learning
disabilities, but has wide application to any children who might benefit from the use of
visual supports for learning.

DRM Guide to Disability Resources on the Internet


This site has compiled an extensive list of online information related to disabilities,
including a regional resource directory that may be searched by state. Disability
Resources, inc. is a nonprofit organization established t
o promote and improve
awareness, availability and accessibility of information for independent living.

EASI Equal Access to Software and Information

This web site offers a variety of information related to
adaptive technologies and access
to software and information

including online courses (for a fee), curriculum strategies
for science and math, legal information, and articles on assistive technology.

Family Center on Technology and Disability (FCTD)

This site provides a variety of

information and services on the subject of assistive and
instructional technologies

Family Village: Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin

This site contains extensive resources. For example, check out assistive technology under
school and visit the library which contains information about disability
related topics and
specific dis
abilities or conditions.

This is a global community that integrates information,
resources, and communication opportunities on the Internet for persons with mental
retardation and other disabilities, their families, and those that provide them services an

Finding Pictures Online

This is a collection of web sites for finding pictures for communication displays and
educational materials. Please note the copyright

web links.

Illinois Assistive Technology Project (IATP

Check out TECHNOTES: IATP online articles on topics related to assistive technology.

Job Accom
odation Network (JAN)

This site provides information on job accommodations including information about
assistive technology in the workplace.

LD Resources

This is an excellent site that contains extensive resources and links for the learning
disabilities community and the use of technology.

Microsoft Accessibility Info

This site sh
ares Microsoft technology and information to increase accessibility for people
with different ability levels.

Missouri Assistive Technology

Assistive Tech loans, AT Reimbursement Grants, training and multi
ple AT resources.

National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM)

AIM is specialized formats of instructional materials that can be used by with print
disabilities which includes vision
impairments, physical impairments and reading

National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC)

A repository of printed instructional materials that can be down loaded and used to create
cessible documents such as braille, audio, or digital text, on behalf of qualifying blind,
impaired or print
disabled students in elementary or secondary school.

News to You


This is
a really cool weekly newspaper for augmentative communication users as well as
emergent readers. Communication symbols are used along with the text to allow symbol
users an opportunity to read the news. Stories are simplified and easy for children to
stand. You pay a yearly subscription fee, and then you will be able to download the
issues from the Web site. Each issue has 3
4 pages of current events, a craft or recipe, a
joke, and an activity page that relates to the week's lead story. News
You is n
available in Regular, Simple and Higher Editions.


"A nationwide collegial endeavor dedicated to the Development and
Implementation of Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology Services in School
Settings." Managed by Joy Zabala. Check this site for excellent resources on Quality
Indicators for A.T. Sig
n up for the Qiat listserve for quality information and discussion
regarding assistive technology.

SpeciaLaw from EDLAW, Inc.

Full texts of statutes, regulations, and administrative interpretat

Tapping Technology

This site contains selected articles from Tapping Technology

a publication of the
Maryland Technology Assistance Program.

Trace Center: Desig
ning More Usable Computers and Software

Links to Shareware and Freeware for adapting all types of computers.

Trace Research & Development Center

This site contains a Cooperative Electronic Library of selected disability documents and
resources. They also offer Designing an Accessible World with suggested guidelines for
designing a wide v
ariety of technologies for use by individuals with disabilities. There
are also online searchable databases of assistive technology products as well as

and shareware to download.



Special Education Law & Advocacy

This site provides up
date information about effective advocacy for children with

The following websites will provide information on iPad apps that deal with specific
special needs a
reas. Although not a part of this presentation, they are included in
this handout
and the iPad is rising to the top of the list as the main assistive
technology device used in the classroom.

Apps for Children with Special

Jane Farrall

Best Apps for Kids


Milestones Autism Organization


Autism Speaks

OT’s with Apps








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