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Introduction to AT
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Defining Concepts

Basic Technologies

AT and Idea

Primary Usage

Device Selection

Trends and Issues



Primary Usage

Communication | Manipulation | Positioning/Mobility | Learning

AT use by elementary students with disabilities can be applied within one or more of four functional areas in home, community and school environments: communication, manipulation, mobility, and learning.



Early introduction to spoken communication helps to develop critical language and social skills as well as identification and sequencing skills required for more complex communication devices. A range of devices exists - from single recordable message tools to type and speak units to devices with multiple communication layers or branching systems. This area of assistive technology use is known as "Augmentative and Alternate Communication" as the device acts to compensate for the student's full communication capabilities, including any vocalizations, gestures, signs and aided communication (ASHA, 1991).



Environmental Control UnitStudents must be able to interact with people and objects in their environment. Karen is able to participate in this cooking activity by pressing a switch to turn on the blender. The environmental control unit provides the interface between the blender and the switch. Switches with special interfaces can be used to control anything electronic from toys to televisions to computers.This area of assistive technology where switches provide a means to independent control of electric or battery-operated devices is often referred to as "Environmental Control Systems".


Seating and MobilityPositioning and mobility items include adapted cars, jeeps, bikes, scooters, walkers and wheelchairs that provide a way for children to experience movement. This powered wheelchair with head switch controls makes it possible for Jerry to choose where and when to go. With these same head switches he is able to move about freely, work on the computer and play Nintendo. His seating system is customized to accommodate his needs. This area of assistive technology is known as "Seating and Mobility" and includes a full range of positioning systems as well as mobility devices.



Girls LearningOther technologies promote increased access to instructional and learning materials as well as to other activities during the day. Examples include calculators, magnifiers, tape recorders, adapted art and gym tools, page-turners, auditory trainers, etc. Adapted computer access is one way that helps children learn, play, and show what they can do. Although computers themselves are a general classroom technology, adaptations can make them more accessible by all students. A wide range of input devices exist that can replace or support the use of the standard keyboard. These include: trackballs, keyguards, alternate keyboards, touch screens, voice input and various pointing devices. Students use AT to access the same classroom software. This area of assistive technology is known as "Adaptive Computer Technology".





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