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Defining Concepts

Basic Technologies

AT and Idea

Primary Usage

Device Selection

Trends and Issues



Basic Technologies

Access Technologies | Adaptive Technologies

Interchangeable terms with assistive technology include assistive devices, rehabilitation equipment/technology, adaptive materials or adaptive technologies. When we apply AT to facilitate the use of classroom technologies and materials by students with disabilities in today's classrooms, AT includes both "access" and "adaptive" technologies.

Access Technologies

Access Technologies include those applications of technologies that provide a way for students with disabilities to better "access" classroom instructional materials provided as part of the general curriculum. These are devices that adapt the tools or activities used by general education students. These products can compensate for limitations experienced by students with sensory, cognitive and/or physical disabilities. Included here are classroom tools/equipment that have been designed with universal features making them accessible to students with physical, cognitive and/or sensory disabilities.


 Alternate Keyboard Alternate keyboards
Alternate keyboards and pointing systems that change how a software program is used. The photo shows an IntelliKeys keyboard (IntelliTools, Inc.) with a modified overlay which makes learning more direct for a student with a disability. S/he simply needs to press a picture key to see the word spelled on the screen or to spell it out with larger letter keys.


 Page Turner

Page Turner
Page Turner: By using this device to hold a book for a student, s/he is then freed to focus on reading & comprehending the material in the book. A page turns when the students presses a switch.


Adaptive Technologies

Adaptive Technologies include customized systems that help individual students move about, communicate in, and control their environments. They are designed specifically for persons with disabilities; devices which would seldom be used by non-disabled persons. Examples include augmentative communication devices, powered wheel chairs and environmental control systems. These assistive technologies are not used exclusively for education purposes, but are used in all of the child's environments.



TTY (teletypewriter)
This device, available from local telephone companies, provides a way for persons with deafness to communicate via the phone. The individual types to send a message and then reads the responses in order to engage in a conversation. A relay service is available if both parties do not have a TTY.


DynaMyte (DynaVox Systems, LLC.)
Portable communication devices, such as the DynaMyte, provide a way for students with communicative disabilities to initiate, respond and converse. As a student selects a sequence of picture symbols, the computer "speaks" the pre-programmed message.





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