Assistive technology is expanding the opportunity for children of all ages with cognitive, sensory, or physical impairments to achieve greater levels self-confidence, while also providing the ability to become better integrated into the mainstream environment at home, in the community, and at school.
Definition of Assistive Technology
Assistive technology equipment is any mechanical device that compensates for a cognitive, sensory, or physical deficit. Assistive devices may be homemade, purchased in a store, or ordered from a special manufacturer and are used by children (and adults) to assist with “activities of daily living.” Assistive technology covers a wide range of equipment from pencil grips, helmets, and paper weights to such “high tech” items as voice synthesizers, Braille readers, hearing devices, motorized wheelchairs, and computers. As per Sherril Steel-Carlin of Education World magazine, assistive devices include all of the following:1
- hearing aids and amplification devices that enable hearing-impaired students to hear what’s going on in the classroom;
- glare-reduction screens, screen magnifiers, and Braille note-taking devices that enable visually impaired students to participate more fully;
- voice-recognition software that turns the spoken word into type on a computer screen so students unable to move their limbs can take part; and
- technologies that enable severely disabled students to control their computers simply by following letters and commands on the computer screen with their eyes.