What is Assistive Technology?
IDEA Law requires school districts to ensure that assistive technology devices and services are provided if needed by a student in order to receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).
An assistive technology device is defined as "any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of children with disabilities."
In other words, assistive technology is anything that helps students with disabilities access the curriculum, from specially lined paper to complex computerized speech generating devices. Often these tools are helpful for other students as well. As curriculum materials move toward more electronic/digital formats, assistive technology and general educational technology overlap more.
CESA #12 AT services are intended to provide assistance to school districts in the development of teams of professionals, knowledgeable in all areas of technology. The CESA #12 Assistive Technology consultant is available to provide awareness, knowledge, and mastery level trainings on a wide variety of subjects, including assessing students' need for assistive technology, writing assistive technology into the IEP, and implementation of assistive technology into a child's curricular programming. Technical assistance is also available on hardware devices and software programs.
BIG ISSUES in AT and education:
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a set of strategies that can be employed to overcome the barriers inherent in most existing curriculum. Based on current brain research, UDL supports the use and creation of instruction and materials that are accessible and adaptable for all students. Wonderful information, materials and support are available at:
the CAST website and OSEP's Ideas that Work
Response to Intervention (RtI) is an educational framework that intergrates assessment and intervention within a multi-tier prevention and support system to maximize student achievement. It emphasizes the use of data, research-based interventions and supports for all students. More information is available at:
the Wisconsin RtI Center's website and National Center on RtI's website
National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) is a technical standard in IDEA with the goal of ensuring the development of high quality and consistent text source files to create specialized formats for students with print disabilities. Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) need to be provided to all students whose learning is enhanced by materials in specialized formats such as audio, large print, highlighted etc. More information is available at the CAST website above and at OSEP's website.
Other important online resources are available at:
Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative website
Under the "Supports" tab, a wide variety of publications are available to download including the ASNAT manual (Assessing Students Needs for Assistive Technology),Assistive Technology Supports for Students with Autism Spectrum Disoders, and supports for using the SETT model to assess students needs. The ASNAT manual provides a chapter by chapter approach to assessing technology needs including online resources for seating/positioning/mobility, communication, computer access, writing, reading, math, organization, rec and leisure and more.
Wisconsin DPI service for Assistive Technology
For more information, contact:
Contact: Laura Comer
Phone: (715) 682-2363 Ext. 167