What is Assistive Technology?
Assistive technology (AT) is technology used by individuals with disabilities to perform functions that may be difficult or impossible to do on their own. Examples include:
- Software/hardware to help with reading and written expression
- Visual support for learning and behavior
- Customized communication devices
- Hand-held devices for curriculum access
Families and students need guidance from highly qualified professionals to determine if they would benefit from assistive technology and which tools would make the most impact on their lives. At CRG, our AT Specialist evaluates individual strengths and needs in order to match the features of assistive technology with the student and desired outcome. This individualized process ensures that the maximum learning benefit can be achieved.
Who can benefit from AT?
Students of all ages, from preschool to college, who struggle with academic skills due to limitations created by their:
- Learning Disabilities
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Minimal Verbal Skills
- Cognitive, Physical or Sensory Deficits
Assistive Technology (AT) Services
AT services begin with a 60 minute intake appointment with our certified AT professional. This includes:
- Review of records
- Interview with you and your child
- Observation of your child
- Identification of goals for AT
- Recommended resources
- Development of evaluation plan if deemed appropriate
Comprehensive AT Evaluation
In some cases, a comprehensive AT evaluation may be necessary. This includes:
- Review of records/intake form
- Development of potential solutions for evaluation based on individual data
- Collaboration with others
- Initial evaluation session and one or two follow-up sessions for equipment and/or strategy trials
- Written report with recommendations and implementation plan
- Medical justification for equipment need if pursuing insurance funding
Once AT tools have been received, services may include:
- Initial installation/set-up of equipment
- Customized training sessions with you and your child so that the tools can be used most effectively at home and school
- Ongoing training sessions to improve use of strategies
- Follow-up services for support to monitor progress and any need for changes
FAQ about Assistive Technology Services at CRG
How do you determine appropriate AT?
This is a highly complex process that must take into account the learner, environment, task and activities. Individual skills and needs are identified and matched with features of products or strategies. There are so many options on the market now that families often need help in identifying solutions that will be worth their time and financial resources.
How do students with LD use Assistive Technology?
When looking at AT for students with LD, we typically look at tools that enhance writing, reading, studying/organizing, listening and math skills. For example, a speech-to-text software program allows students to speak their thoughts into a microphone while watching their words being typed automatically on the screen.
Will AT teach my child reading/writing skills?
No, but it can make reading or writing easier. The purpose of AT is to compensate for skill areas that make learning difficult; however, it does not take the place of direct instruction. Often when the appropriate AT strategy is used in conjunction with direct instruction, the student becomes a more independent and efficient learner.
Shouldn’t we just buy our child a computer?
Not all AT is high tech; many solutions are inexpensive items that can be used in nontraditional ways. For example, AT can include picture cards that students with limited speech point to when communicating. Most learners use many forms of AT including those that are low tech and high tech, depending upon the task and environment. Also, just having a piece of hardware or software does not ensure that a student will know how to use it effectively.
My child has limited mobility and communication. How can AT help?
Various low and high tech options exist that allow those with limited mobility to use switches to interact with the computer. Speech-generating devices also can provide a voice for those who are nonverbal.
Where Can I Learn More?
Assistive Technology Industry Association
Closing the Gap (Changing lives with assistive technology)
Assistive Technology Basics