So what exactly is assistive technology? Assistive technology, or AT, is any technology-based intervention that assists. This could be special software for the physically or sensory impaired, or support for a learning difference such as dyslexia.
This technology is not just for special needs students there are solutions to cover all needs and disabilities as well as helping mainstream students to work quicker and more efficiently. As an example a visually impaired student may be recommended magnification devices whereas a student struggling with organisation may be recommended concept mapping software. The technology may take the form of software for their computer or a separate portable device. For students with visual stress, a set of overlays may make all the difference.
The challenge now faced by schools is identifying the right AT software and hardware from which a child may benefit and if there is value in making it available to every child so that they can all benefit.
Not every type of computer is able to support the AT-available hardware and software. Software may not be available on your chosen platform and hardware, such special keyboards and mice, may not be compatible or may require USB ports that your chosen computer cannot offer. If you have to select a different computer to accommodate the AT then you need to be sure it will also support all of the software and functionality that your standard unit provides so that the user will not be excluded.
There is such a wide variety of tools available to support every type of physical and mental disability that we cannot go into every option here, although we have included some short videos on some specific hardware below. Our advice is simply to not forget the needs of any child when selecting your standard device and to talk to one of the specialist suppliers of AT and your supplier to make sure you can accommodate every child’s needs.
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