What is assistive technology?

Assistive technology is any kind of technology and/or tool that can be used to enhance the functional independence of a person with a disability. Often, for people with disabilities, accomplishing daily tasks such as communicating with others, going to school or work, or participating in activities can be a challenge. Assistive Technology (AT) devices are tools to help overcome those challenges and enable people living with disabilities to enhance and have access to a quality of life, that may otherwise not be known, and lead more independent lives.

The mission of this blog is to serve as a voice of a constant researcher in the field of educational and assistive technologies so that the best products, strategies and services may be located easily, in hopes that they will then be delivered, taught and used to better the lives of people with disabilities.


Gizmos and Gadgets for all those Special Needs

What is the definition of Assistive Technology (AT)? Well, it is not just technology. Confusing, huh? There is a no-tech/low-tech category in AT which basically means, no batteries or cords that plug in. Sometimes with our population you just plain have to get creative. Think outside the box!

A few ideas:
  • Cue Classroom Scheduler -  Is a pocket-sized Classroom Scheduler that keeps track of your schedule for you. Features simple, two-step data entry process; over 50 pre-programmed everyday classroom activities, light and/or sound alarms for every event, digital clock and calendar. It is about the size of a palm pilot but with a larger viewing screen and can fit right in the student’s pocket. 
  • Highlighter Tape - Sometimes you just are not allowed to highlight in a book. This tape works like Post-its. 
  • Fingertipr Grip - This is designed for crafters but could sure help some of our kids turn pages!

  • Keystick Keyboard Labels - Lowercase adhesive letters and key functions for keyboards. Color coded for help in using the correct fingers for typing. 
  • Kidwords - You can get these magnet words with PCS symbols or without. For those kids who struggle with handwriting, this is a way for them to demonstrate their knowledge without worrying about holding that difficult pencil.

  • Magnetic Tape - Some kids just get fixated on Velcro or they may have a really hard time pulling it. Try magnetic tape instead.  
  • MathLine - Provides a math manipulative like an abacus and number-line all in one. It has suction cups on the bottom so you can keep everything in one place and comes in a variety of sizes. If your student struggles with picking up all those little counters, try the MathLine.It comes in various sizes, depending on your student's needs.
  • Page Up Document Holders and Paper Stands -  You can get these pretty much anywhere but I love them! Slide your sheet of paper into the slit of this ingenious little device. Your document will immediately stand up in front of you. Simple but brilliant, they make all your important documents easy to see. They free up space on your desktop. 
  • Reading Helpers Color Filters - Help struggling readers with flexible reading guides that have built-in filters. The colored plastic highlights the line to be read so the reader can easily focus and concentrate on the words. Each set contains red, green, blue, yellow, pink, orange, purple, aqua, and clear filters. 
  • See Through Removable Color Dots  is one of my favorite little tools. Teachers can use them in text books to color code things such as, "Main Idea", "Answers to questions are in this section", "Pat attention to this part". Students can use them for, "I need help understanding this section", or to color code where the answer is to the questions. 
  • Talk Block - Recordable, multi-sensory block reaches beyond simple listening and speaking practice (auditory) to also include visual reinforcement. Just insert a card or photo, and press down to record and replay up to 30 seconds of sound. Flip the switch to lock content. Versatile, cross-curricular resource for reinforcing skills, assessing and even conveying activity instructions for centers. Ideal for practicing the alphabet, phonics, sight words, mental math, vocabulary, short read alouds and more. Great augmentative communication tool for non-verbal students. Place on a table or mount on a wall/bulletin board.
  • Talking Hot Dots Pen Set - Like a personal reading coach, pen cheers for students when they answer Hot Dots Activity Card questions correctly and motivates them to try again when they answer incorrectly. Choose talking feedback, fun sound effects or both. Also provides visual feedback with green and red lights for correct and incorrect answers.  
  • Tap-N-GlueWhen you press the bottle down and squeeze, the glue comes out.  You are able to get dots and dashes of glue but no puddles of glue. When you lift the bottle up, the cap automatically closes, so no more glue will come out--even if a child is still squeezing the bottle.

  • Scissors- oh there are so many different kinds of adaptive scissors but also remember to use paper punches that you get at the craft store. They come in a variety of shapes. Also, the paper trimmers used often in scrap-booking works well for many. I love to go to the local craft store and just peruse the shelves to think about how we might use various gadgets.  

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