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Introduction to AT
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Overview

Defining Concepts

Basic Technologies

AT and Idea

Primary Usage

Device Selection

Trends and Issues

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Device Selection

Considerations | Factors for Success

Considerations

For many years, mostly due to the low availability of assistive technology items, professionals and parents focused on attaining a certain device, believing that the equipment alone was going to make the difference. We now know that the selection of the right technology is influenced by several factors including the abilities of the student, his/her family's culture and value system, the environment in which the technology is used and previous experiences with devices and strategies.

Although assistive technology has the potential to extend the abilities of a child, a thorough assessment should always precede the acquisition of the device. In determining the assistive technology needs of a child, consider:

  • the abilities of a child; his/her interests and preferences
  • the family's culture and value system
  • the environment it will be used in
  • the functional tasks for participating in daily routines
  • available materials and technologies
  • the barriers to his/her participation
  • ongoing intervention and evaluation

Be specific when identifying AT solutions. The "best" solutions fit the required task, taking into consideration the modification of the activity and/or the learning materials. Single solutions will not meet all of the student's needs; a combination of strategies works best

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Factors for Success

Ongoing research identifies key factors in the successful use of AT in educational settings:

  • student and family goals and values form the basis of the student's educational programs
  • the acquisition and use of AT is tied directly to student academic and personal goals
  • students, family and educators (including teachers, therapists and instructional assistants) work as a team to select, obtain, implement and monitor AT
  • communication about all aspects of the students school program is frequent and honest
  • devices and equipment that are worn or outgrown are replaced. Those that are not meeting student needs are modified, replaced or abandoned, either temporarily or permanently
  • both major and minor glitches are regarded as inevitable but solvable problems are dealt with quickly and systematically by the team.

(Todis, 1997)

The benefits of technology are as extensive as the abilities and goals of the students using them. However, professionals and parents should exercise certain cautions. Technology must not been seen as a panacea; it alone will not "fix" a disability or guarantee a successful inclusion program.

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