The use of assistive technology in schools is growing as technology becomes more advanced and needs-specific. Assistive technology is technology used by individuals with disabilities in order to perform functions that might otherwise be difficult or impossible. Assistive technology can include mobility devices such as walkers and wheelchairs, as well as hardware, software, and peripherals that assist people with disabilities in accessing computers or other information technologies. For example, people with limited hand function may use a keyboard with large keys or a special mouse to operate a computer, people who are blind may use software that reads text on the screen in a computer-generated voice, people with low vision may use software that enlarges screen content, people who are deaf may use a TTY (text telephone), or people with speech impairments may use a device that speaks out loud as they enter text via a keyboard (http://www.washington.edu/accessit/articles?109).
In order to qualify for a type of assistive technology, students are assessed for the level of support that is needed in order to make the curriculum accessible. The appropriate level of support is established and discussed with the student’s teachers and staff.
Currently, Octorara students use many types of assistive technology, from “low tech” to “high tech.” From crutches and wheelchairs to sound amplification and electronic text-to-speech hardware, students are trained to use many types of assistive technology. For more information or examples of assistive technology use in our school district, contact the Special Education Office at 610.593.8238, ext. 3506.