What is Assistive Technology?

  • The legal definition as it appears in IDEA is "any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device".  An assistive technology device is defined by the Assistive Technology Act of 1988 as "any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities."

    Assistive Technology items can be described as "no tech", "low tech", "mid tech" or "high tech".

    What is "No Tech"?

    No tech tools can be described as strategies or environmental arrangements that can be carried out by staff or the student that assists them with better access to their education - there is no tangible tool involved.  Some examples would be a change in the lighting, the positioning of educational materials, or moving to a separate location.

    Low Tech Items

    Low tech items are usually inexpensive, simple to make and easy to obtain. Some examples of low tech devices are:

    • pencil grips;
    • slant boards;
    • paper communication boards/cards;
    • highlighting;
    • specialized paper;
    • or dry erase boards

    Mid-Tech Items

    Examples of mid-tech devices are:

    • calculators;
    • eye glasses;
    • splints;
    • digital recorders;
    • a magnifying glass;
    • single switches;
    • Single voice output Switch;
    • cause and effect software programs;
    • and static display communication devices. 

    High Tech Items

    High Tech items would include:

    • wheelchairs;
    • Dynamic display augmentative communication devices;
    • complex computer software programs that involve speech to text and text to speech components;
    • infrared mouse options;
    • Tablet devices;
    • and computers.