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 will assist students with communication needs (hardware, software, and peripherals) to access the general education curriculum. For example, students with limited hand function may use a keyboard with large keys or a special mouse to operate a computer, students who are blind or visually impaired may use software that reads text on the screen in a computer-generated voice or software that enlarges screen content, students who are deaf may use a TTY (text telephone) or specific sound amplification systems, and students 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 sound amplification and electronic text-to-speech hardware, to iPads, word-predictive software or simply magnifying glasses, 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.