Accessibility and “Literacy for All.”
What is Assistive Technology?
The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines assistive technology as any piece of equipment or product “that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities.”
Assistive technology (AT) is not intended to replace traditional reading but can be a powerful supplement for students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. AT is the vehicle by which the student gains access to grade-level content.
Over the past decade, great advances have been made in technology that support students with documented needs. Although not a replacement for explicit reading instruction provided by professionally trained teachers, AT tools are geared toward facilitating learning to help level the metaphorical playing field for students with learning challenges.
Families and educators can find information about navigating AT options through a variety of resources, including:
- The Center on Technology and Disability
- The International Dyslexia Association (IDA)
- Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology
More information also can be found in the article Assistive Technology: An Overview for Parents of Students with Learning Disabilities by Wilson’s Director of Accessibility and Assistive Technology Solutions, Nanci Shepardson.
Assistive Technology in Schools
Under the IDEA, public school systems are required to provide appropriate assistive technology supports to students with documented learning disabilities so they can access grade-level content and keep pace with their classmates. Assistive technology tools can be geared toward all types of learners.
Selecting Assistive Technology
Select the right tool for your learner by using the Student, Environment, Tasks, and Tools (SETT) framework.