The Kansas Deaf-Blind Project is a federally funded grant designed to provide technical assistance to educational teams and families who serve learners with deaf-blindness in Kansas. Our Project goals include:
Assistive Technology (AT)
Kansas Deaf-Blind March Tidbit of the Month:
Prepared by Dinell Smith, KS DB Family Specialist
“For a person without a disability, AT makes things easier…….
For a person with a disability, AT makes things possible.”
FACTS to know about AT:
“AT should empower students who have unique learning challenges with equal access to the curriculum and increase interaction by reducing obstacles caused by their disability.”
It is important to know that IDEA ’97 (Public Law 105-17) mandates the provision of AT and offers clear definitions of AT devices and services. It is important to understand this law and how it fits into an IEP in order to help your student obtain any needed AT device or service.
An AT Device is defined as “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.” These devices can include low-tech or no-tech items like pencil grips or slant boards which require no batteries or electronics; mid-tech devices which require batteries like a talking calculator, spell checker, or talking button; and high-tech devices which are more complex electronic systems such as computers, iPads, screen readers, and dedicated communication devices used for communication.
AT Services are defined as “any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an AT device. (section 300.5) Some examples of AT Services on an IEP could include evaluations, providing deivces, selecting, designing, fitting customizing, adapting, maintaining, repairing, or replacing AT devices, coordinating therapies, intervenetions and services with AT devices, training and technical assistance for the student, family and school service providers that are involved with the child with disabilities.
As a parent, if you feel your child needs an AT device or service, and your school team has not already jumped in gear, then by law you can make a written or oral request to the school asking for an assessment for AT and describe the student’s needs in as much detail as possible. (I recommend a written request so you have proof of the request if needed.) Once your request is made, the local education agency (LEA or school) has 15 days to give you a proposed assessment plan. Like most evals, schools may ask parents to sign for permission for the AT eval and once the parents signs permission, the school team has 60 days to complete that eval and report back. Remember that parents are a member of the IEP team and should be included in discussing options for those devices and services before they are implemented.
For more info about Assistive Technology and the Law, visit Wrightslaw.com found here: http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/atech.index.htm
Below are links to helpful websites with more Assistive Technology info:
The Family Center on Technology and Disability (FCTD) offers a FREE online guidebook called, “Family Information Guide to AT and Transition” found here: http://www.fctd.info/show/newfig
Glossary of Assistive Technology Terms: http://www.fctd.info/factsheet/glossary
Over 1300 Reviews of AT Resources of every kind: http://www.fctd.info/resources
NCDB’s Library has many articles on AT: https://nationaldb.org/library/search/?search=assistive+technology+&format=json
Perkins’ Paths To Literacy allows you to search for AT related resources that have been shared: http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/technology
Perkins also offers free webcasts and webinars on AT: http://www.perkinselearning.org/watch-and-learn-listing?field_watch_and_learn_category_tid%5B%5D=3683
Assistive Technology for Kansans offers AT services throughout the state. http://atk.ku.edu Check out their website to find out how you can see and try a device, borrow a device for short term, help get funding for a device or get a refurbished device or just get questions about AT answered. There are 6 sites across the state to help you.There are also videos, handouts and tips for using an iPad: http://atk.ku.edu/node/10/#iPadVideos
Opportunities for Families
The Kansas School for the Deaf invites families to join with a Connecting Families One Cup at a Time with various locations in Kansas.
Check Out this Webinar
The Impact of Technology in the Life of a Person who is Deaf-Blind
featuring our own Dinell Smith along with Maricar Marquez and Marcia Brooks