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Technology assessment and skill-building to empower students

Assistive tech helps students with vision loss and other disabilities to overcome many traditional barriers to independence and employment.

Accessing and utilizing assistive technology is one of nine skill areas that students with visual impairments and multiple disabilities must learn through the Expanded Core Curriculum.  In today’s world, the power of assistive technology is enormous, as it empowers students with vision loss to overcome many traditional barriers to independence and employment.

Assistive technology is ‘any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a child with a disability.’

Americans with Disabilities Act

The goal of assistive technology is to increase an individual’s access to school, work, or other activities of daily life. For individuals with vision impairments, assistive technology is an essential component of daily life. The majority of products and activities in the world today are designed for people without vision impairments, or without specific attention to the needs of those with vision impairments. Therefore, many people with vision impairments will need a tool box of specialized or modified equipment or materials to participate in activities equally with their sighted peers.  

Why does assistive technology matter for students with disabilities?

In this video, Perkins students share what technology means to them – from social connections with friends and family to staying as productive and tech-savvy as their typically sighted peers.

Many of the technology tools that students will need to be successful in their educational pursuits cannot be learned in a short period. Students should be exposed to these tools as early as possible, and while they have access to services in school. The goal will be for students to become competent in their use by the time they need to rely on these tools to access the world after graduation. 

Students should get acclimated with the technology before they’re delving into schoolwork with it. Assistive technology is its own skill, that needs direct explicit instruction and should be integrated within all parts of the students lives including all areas of the ECC and core academic curriculum. These services can be taught as a separate class, but should be collaboration with the whole team so students can generalize their skills.  This article provides examples of assistive technology and discusses how important it is in the transition process.

  • Communicating via email 
  • Computer access and use of Microsoft & Google Suites
  • Internet access: how and where to find information
  • Use of a smartphone and accessibility apps 
  • Recreation and Leisure activities: games, podcasts
  • Social media and networking

Assistive technology services include, but are not limited to:

Resources 

Assessments

Here are some examples of tools that we use to assess executive functioning skills at Perkins. They are intended to be administered by the student’s school team with input from the student and family. 

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