Assistive Technology Defined

Assistive Technology Defined

Assistive Technology (AT) is a phrase that is thrown around so much in the Special
Education World.

Have you ever wondered what that phrase really means?

Assistive Technology can have various meanings depending on the need of the individual.

Let’s take a moment to review what it means, what it is, and what types of the assistive technology are

Assistive Technology is any equipment, tool, and/or device that helps individuals with
disabilities to be more independent and allow daily living to be easier and more accessible.

AT is any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf,
modified, or customized that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities
of children with disabilities (IDEA 2004).

It can also be defined as an umbrella that includes many different adaptations to help an individual with a disability.

Commonly used in online special education tutoring, these are also exceptional tools to be used in your home!

There are many types of AT available ranging from low tech to high tech. It can also involve very basic adaptations to very involved adaptations. Below is a list of AT (please note this list isn’t all inclusive):

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List Of Assistive Technology;

For Communication:

❏ Eye Gaze Frame
❏ Simple Voice Output Device
❏ Communication Board with pictures/objects/shapes/words
❏ Voice Output Device with icon sequencing, dynamic display, and/or speech

For Reading:

❏ Single Word Scanners
❏ Predictable Books/Electronic Books
❏ Changes to the text size, spacing, color, and/or background
❏ Use of symbols/pictures with text

For Learning/Studying:

❏ Print/Picture Schedule
❏ Highlighting Text
❏ Recorded materials
❏ Color-Coded Folders/Materials
❏ Single Word/Hand Held Scanners
❏ Software for concept development/idea organization


❏ Enlarged Math Worksheets
❏ Talking Calculator/Watches/Clocks
❏ Alternative Keyboard
❏ Tactile/voice output measuring devices
❏ Abacus/Math Line
❏ On-screen/scanning Calculator

Written Expression:

❏ Talking Word Processor
❏ Word Processor with Spell Check
❏ Writing templates
❏ Word cards/book/wall
❏ Multimedia software
❏ Pocket dictionary/thesaurus


❏ PreWritten words/phrases
❏ Adapted Paper (i.e., raised line or highlighted line)
❏ Slant Board/Clipboard
❏ Templates
❏ Word Processor
❏ Variety of pens/pencils (can include pencil grips)


❏ Eyeglasses
❏ Magnifier
❏ Large print books
❏ Closed circuit TV
❏ Screen color contrast/screen reader/text reader
❏ Braille materials/translation software


❏ Computer/portable word processor
❏ TTY/TTD with/without relay
❏ Closed Captioning
❏ Computer-aided note taking
❏ FM/Loop System
❏ Hearing Aid/Personal amplification system/phone amplifier

Environmental Controls:

❏ Light switch extensions
❏ Radio/ultrasound to remotely control appliances
❏ Interface and switch to activate a battery operated device
❏ Interface and switch to turn on electrical appliances

Daily Living Skills:

❏ Non-slip materials
❏ Universal cuff/strap
❏ Adaptive eating/drinking utensils
❏ Adaptive cooking equipment


❏ Walker
❏ Grab bars/rails
❏ Wheelchair-powered or manual
❏ Powered scooter
❏ An adaptive vehicle for driving

Assistive Technology Is Everywhere;

It can be very basic or very high tech.

Any adaptation made to any material can be considered AT. When looking for AT for your son, daughter, or even yourself, please remember the sky’s the limit.

If it doesn’t work one way, try it another way.

AT was created so each individual can reach their maximum potential. Don’t consider it to be a nuisance, but an opportunity for growth and a step towards independence.

What’s your favorite Assistive Technology?



Amanda Wagoner, MAT

Amanda Wagoner, MAT

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