Discover websites, blogs, articles, and videos that provide information and tools related to understanding, selecting, and assessing assistive technology and accessible instructional materials.
Originally Published: December 9, 2013 | Updated: October 27, 2014
This guide to assistive technology will help you navigate some of the available websites, resources, and tools related to assistive technology and accessible instructional materials -- from getting started, to tips, to finding appropriate technology and need-specific resources. Before you dive in, you may want to watch VideoAmy's "Five-Minute Film Festival: The Power of Assistive Technology."
Whether low-tech, high-tech, or somewhere in between, assistive technology and related services play an important role in reducing barriers to learning for students with a variety of special needs and challenges. Listen to parent Jeanne Dwyer, as she discusses her experiences using technology to help her son build independence, in a video from the Maryland State Department of Education.
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Finding Assistive Technology
To learn more about what's available, explore of the following websites that provide information about specific technologies and guidance on finding appropriate tools.
- TechMatrix, funded through a grant by the U.S. Department of Education and maintained by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), is a searchable database of over 400 assistive and educational technology tools and resources. The products are searchable by content area, grade level, IDEA disability category, and the type of instructional support.
- TechMatrix also provides a useful consumer guide for school administrators looking to purchase assistive and learning technologies and aggregates research articles on the theory and practice of using technology to improve student learning.
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Tips and Tools
- Creating a "Least Restrictive Environment" with Mobile Devices, by Beth Holland (2013)
Holland of EdTechTeacher looks at how mobile devices can help create a "least restrictive environment," not only for students with disabilities, but for everyone else as well.
- Dictation Technology Will Change Writing Instruction, by Robert Rosenberger (2013)
Rosenberger, assistant professor of philosophy at Georgia Institute of Technology's School of Public Policy, offers a thoughtful examination of how dictation technology is likely to change the future of writing instruction.
- Assistive Technology: Enhanced Learning for All, by Lisa Wahl (2003)
Assistive technology can help students with a range of disabilities to excel. In this article, Wahl provides several examples of how technology can be used to support the learning experiences of students with unique challenges.
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- Assistive Technology and the 1:1 Student, by Andrew Marcinek (2012)
Marcinek, in a story about Burlington High's 1:1 program, describes one student's easy use of the iPad as assistive technology.
- Berberi's Tools, by Alise Brann, Tracy Gray, Heidi Silver-Pacuilla (2008)
Brann, Gray, and Silver-Pacuilla discuss several of the technologies that Albano Berberi -- a blind Advanced Placement computer science student, devoted gamer, and violin prodigy -- uses throughout his day.
- Out of Sight: Technology Helps Visually Impaired Students Thrive, by Sara Ring (2008)
Ring discusses the tools that make learning accessible for visually impaired students at one Brooklyn high school.
- Technology-Rich Literacy Experience for Students With Reading Disabilities, by Ted Hasselbring (2014)
Hasselbring, a research professor of special education at Vanderbilt University, introduces Udio, an online environment designed to engage and support middle school students who face literacy challenges.
- Technology Improves Post-Secondary Outcomes for Students With Autism, by Dana Reinecke (2013)
Author Reinecke discusses how technology can improve post-secondary outcomes for students with autism, increasing their access to jobs and education.
- Leaping Over Walls: With Technology Integration, the Sky's the Limit, by Mason Barney (1998)
Barney, a college student, discusses how he has used various technology tools to help him overcome barriers caused by a learning disability.
- Assistive Technology Makes a Difference for Lukas Bratcher (2005)
Thanks to some ingenious assistive technology, this high school student didn't let a birth condition stifle his passion for music. He played euphonium in his school's award-winning marching band from his wheelchair.
- Disabled Bodies, Able Minds, by Diane Curtis (2005)
Assistive technology, including speech-generation devices and joystick technology, makes it possible for students with physical and mobility challenges to participate more fully in class and school activities.
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Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
For information on the basics of universal design for learning (UDL), take a look at What is UDL? from the National Center on Universal Design for Learning. The role of technology in UDL is explored on their UDL and Technology page. UDL strategies do not replace the need for AT, but UDL and AT can be complementary. For a concise illustration of the relationship between UDL and AT, check out this handy chart, AT and UDL in Partnership, from Maryland Learning Links.
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