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.


Old iPhones - Donations for the Classroom

Picture courtesy of Google Images

Now is a perfect time to ask for donations of free iPhones! Remember, smartphones are just miniature computers, which means there’s a lot you can do with them even if your phone isn’t activated or connected to the Internet. Teachers are incorporating iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches into their curriculum at an increasing rate. However, schools are constrained by ever tightening budgets. Many of these powerful devices with the capacity to interest, captivate and teach children are ending up in drawers, or on shelves, where they sit hardly used after the owner upgrades a newer version.

As Meg Wilson in EdReach shared: “Ask for Donations!   Let’s face it, iPods and iPads have become incredibly popular consumer devices over the last few years. And with each new release of an iPod or iPad, thousands of individuals are upgrading. I know because I happen to be one of them. Each time I upgrade, I add my older device to my classroom collection. This led me to start asking for donations. Every year, at our first faculty meeting I ask my fellow educators and administrators to consider donating their old devices if they upgrade, and to help spread the word to anyone they know. I send out letters and emails to parents in the district, and also to my own family and friends. I put postings in the local libraries on the community bulletin boards. I ask for the district to include the request every now and then in the district’s weekly list serve. Even I’m surprised by the amount of devices that have been donated over the years. People have been more than happy to donate older devices when they know that they are learning tools for the classroom. Also, it can be a nice tax write off. Sometimes people give me their older broken iPods or iPhones. That’s fine with me because I just hand them off to a few tech-savvy students with access to YouTube and often they are able to fix them. And if the device can’t be easily fixed (or affordably fixed), you can give the device back to Apple and take advantage of their recycling program, which gives you a 10% discount on a new device… or possibly an Apple gift card if the device still has monetary value!”

Thoughts and ideas to build on:
  • Use it as a communication system for students who struggle with language
  • Listen to audiobooks downloaded from the library
  • Listen to audiobooks with the Learning Ally app or Bookshare app
  • Listen to Podcasts
  • Watch TED Talks
  • Use 60 Second Recap App
  • Use the notes app to keep track of assignments and ideas
  • Use the reminders app
  • Play educational/interactive/cooperative games
  • Use it as a camera for projects
  • Teach Smart Phone Etiquette (Boy, do we need this!)
  • Teach social networking platforms like epals.com and ning.com to help students to learn about digital literacy and global citizenship 

For more ideas see my Pinterest Board. 

Let’s face it, the cellphone is becoming increasingly universal. Smartphones are cheap, rugged, flexible, and mobile. The iPhone platform is particularly innovative in developing the next generation of educational tools, games, and experiences and kids of all ages love them!


How to Start:
In your donation request, share: “Make sure you terminate your service. You don't want a bill showing up after the phone is no longer in your possession, especially if someone starts using it! Talk to your service provider about terminating your account or setting up your account with your new phone. Erase the memory and stored data. This is very easy to do. There are number of tutorials online or you can use Phone Data Eraser!” Let them know that you will restore them to factory state.

Some may keep their SIM card. This is not a bad idea. But if they do, you will need to get a new one or it will be very annoying as a continuous message will be popping up.

Connect the old iPhone to your computer and launch iTunes.
iTunes will see it as a new device and will need to activate it. Once it’s activated, you’re good to go!

Turn Off Cellular; Turn On WiFi
Since your new “iPod Touch” doesn’t have a service plan (which means you can’t make calls or send/receive text messages), your device will heavily rely on WiFi, so be sure to turn that on.
  1. Open the Settings app and tap on Cellular.
  2. There should be a toggle at the top to turn off the cellular radio. Tap on the toggle until it turns gray (if it isn’t already).
  3. Go back to the main Settings screen and tap on Wi-Fi.
  4. Tap on the toggle switch at the top next to Wi-Fi to turn it on (if it isn’t already).
  5. Select your home network from the list below and enter in the password.

After you’ve completed those steps, you’re home free. You can now use your old iPhone as a glorified iPod Touch, with the ability to play music, download and install apps and games, and even look up maps (providing you have a WiFi connection). An iPod Touch is pretty much an iPhone without the phone, so the only things you won’t be able to do are make/receive phone calls, send/receive text messages and access the internet without a WiFi connection.