Assistive Technology for Students with Mild Disabilities

Assistive Technology for Students with Mild Disabilities

Definition and Description

It has become important for educators to embrace the advent of computers and other related technologies. This is due to the opportunities and benefits that are prevalent. IDEA identifies assistive technology as a piece of equipment, an item or product system that can be customized or modified in order to maintain, increase or improve functional capabilities that are associated with children suffering from various disabilities (Friedlander, 2015). It is specifically noted that surgically implanted medical devices cannot be considered as part of assistive technology.

The definition provided is quite general and provides teams associated with Individualized Education Program (IEP) the flexibility to avail a range of technology solutions that would be beneficial in helping students complete tasks within relevant instructional areas. Assistive technology is embraced to help students’ performance in various academic areas like spelling, math, reading and writing. It is also useful in supporting students’ performance and independence with matters regarding mobility, communication, listening, recreation and vocational training (Prater, 2007).

Services in assistive technology include device acquisition, evaluation, device maintenance and repair, training for the student and his/her family, educators’ training and technical assistance. These services are important for assistive technology to function optimally. Provision of the technology without appropriate measures being put in place beats the logic of the process. This is because the likelihood of success will be quite low.

Policies that are meant to encourage the implementation of assistive technology for students with various disabilities are being promulgated every year by the relevant stakeholders. The federal government was the main pioneer of this initiative since the early 1980s. This is due to the potential that this technology showed in light of the difficulties that were being experienced by people with disability. Various Acts have been enacted in the process. These include the Tech Act of 1988 and IDEA Act of 1990 (Prater, 2007). They tend to demonstrate the importance that the federal government places on assistive technology.

Assistive technology devices can be classified into either low-tech or high-tech devices. Low-tech devices can be selected from a catalog, purchased from a hardware store or fabricated using materials or tools that are easily acquired from home workshops. Examples of low-tech assistive technologies are note-taking cassette recorders, simple switches, pencil grips, taped instructions, head pointers, picture boards and workbooks among others. High-tech devices on the other hand, tend to incorporate some type of computer chips. Examples of high-tech assistive technologies include calculator, optical character recognition, word prediction, speech synthesizers, voice recognition, alternative keyboards, augmentative communication devices and instructional software among others.

Consideration for assistive technology usually follows a defined process. To begin with, assistive technology is considered for all the students with disability regardless of the severity or type of disability. During the development of IEP, team members collaborate in the decision-making process that enables systematic consideration for students’ possible need for assistive technology. The IEP team gathers data regarding the student’s educational goals, customary environments, and tasks for the sake of the consideration (Friedlander, 2015). If assistive technology is needed, the team explores a range of assistive technology services, devices and other supports necessary to address the identified needs. The consideration process and results derived are documented in the IEP. This includes the rationale for decision making and supporting evidence.

It is clear that assistive technology is open to all students with disabilities. It is mostly upon IEP teams to decide whether an individual needs it or not. The team is also responsible for deciding what devices to be used given the circumstances.


The rationale regarding the personal interest in the topic is based on the benefits associated. In general education classrooms, assistive technology can be very helpful for students experiencing different forms of disabilities. Among the benefits is the enhancement of academic achievement in reading, written expression, spelling and mathematics. This aspect is aided by various devices incorporate within the assistive technology program. They tend to make work easier and increase the prospects of comprehension. When students have the ability to accommodate writing and reading challenges, their probability of success in the general education classroom is quite high (Bouck & Flanagan, 2015).

Assistive technology is also favorable for boosting engagement among students. When children feel that they are not good in subjects like English and Mathematics, they tend to get disheartened and lose the motivation to participate. However, when there is confidence regarding their abilities, they join with enthusiasm, and they boost their performance in the process. Assistive technology can bring along the enthusiasm since it impacts knowledge through the things that children already love to do.

The prospect of students with disability becoming independent is also high. Students experiencing limited mobility in their hands do not need a note-taker assigned to them. With the ability of speech recognition software or LiveScribe pens, they can work alone and establish a sense of achievement and independence.

The collaboration aspect involved whereby the teachers have to work in partnership with assistive technology specialists is great too. This ensures that the process of helping the students with disability is a combined effort. The aspect ensures that the decision-making process is followed by an input of different stakeholders. These stakeholders have different opinions based on their backgrounds. This ensures that there is room to view the whole process in different dimensions (Bouck & Flanagan, 2015). As a result, the conclusions made would end up being the most appropriate given the circumstances.


This topic has various issues surrounding it. Among the issues is the personalization of assistive technology with regards to various individuals. Some people involved with the implementation of this technology seem to neglect this aspect. This is because they deem it as being time and resource consuming. As a result, they tend to enhance an aspect of uniformity for all students. This is not a favorable approach since students with disability will not benefit from a similar piece of assistive technology. Individuals with varied disabilities require different responses (Bouck, 2016). An appropriate assistive technology is dependent on the individual’s circumstances.

Another issue surrounding the topic is the great debate of whether the society needs assistive technology. The main issue is about the myths that people have regarding the assistive technology. Some of the information that people who are against the technology use is not substantiated. The reality seems different from what these people believe.

The topic is also surrounded by various ethical issues. The issues of concern include its impact on society. There is fear that assistive technology has the ability to reduce human contact, which is quite true. There are also concerns that it deters students’ with disability from acquiring various skills possessed by other students.

Practices in Implementation

Implementation of assistive technology is influenced by various factors and practices. There are various aspects that need to be actualized for success to be attained with matters regarding implementation. Among them, is the students’ perception of various assistive technology devices that are available. A device might be suitable for a certain student based on his or her needs. However, the student in question might have a negative attitude towards the device. It will be favorable if the device is not utilized. This is because it does not help the student in moving forward due to the negative perception. It is advisable to select another favorable device that the student is comfortable with (Friedlander, 2015).

The costs involved with the acquisition of various assistive technology devices should be put into consideration during the implementation. This is because students tend to suffer from various disabilities. This means that they will require more than one device to supplement their needs. Funds available for these activities are usually limited due to other educational needs that need to be factored in. As a result, the individuals involved with the implementation of assistive technology need to be cost conscious. Devices that do not result in high costs should be prioritized (Bouck, 2016). This will help in ensuring that most needs of the students have been taken care of regardless of the limited funds available.

Another favorable practice for the implementation is proper training of the students on how to use various assistive technology devices. Some teachers have the tendency of making assumptions that the students are quite conversant with the devices. Others assume that they will learn by themselves along the way. Such aspects only make it even worse for the students with disability. There is a need to offer prompt and adequate training in order to ensure that they are not encountering more difficulties. The whole idea behind the technology is helping the students improve in various ways, but not to make their life more difficult. They should also be accorded sufficient time to use them so that they can develop proficiency.

There is also the need for matching the technologies appropriately based on the students’ needs. The technology might be superior, but if it does not match the needs of the students, it just becomes redundant. This is what makes the evaluation process important. The inclusion of various professionals is significant since they help in the decision making. If the process is flawed, the recommendations made are not appropriate (Friedlander, 2015). This is where students are allocated devices that are not compatible with their needs. It results in failure of the entire implementation.

Teachers need to have the know-how to appropriately repair or adapt the technologies being utilized by the students. If the teachers cannot master the logic behind assistive technology application, how will the students? Teachers should also not prohibit assistive technologies from leaving the classroom. This is because the students have become used to them, and this is what makes their work easy. When the technologies are not allowed to leave the classroom, it will mean that they will have to struggle with their homework. This can be compared to not letting students without disability take their books home. It does not make sense since it means that they will not be studying while at home (Prater, 2007).

Parents also need to play a role in the successful implementation of assistive technology. They ought to provide support at home to enhance assistive technology familiarity and increase the prospects of success for their children. Most children are likely to follow what their parents are doing or instructing due to the respect that suffices.

Knowledge Gained

Through the investigation of this topic, I have learned that assistive technology should be used in schools. The implications for the students seem quite profound. Learning can be a highly individualized and complex process.  However, study skills and learning strategies might not be the same for most students. This is why students with disability should be dealt with at a personal level. Assistive technology makes this aspect quite possible. This is because it enables students to use technologies that best suit them. It becomes quite easy for them to perform in a general classroom this way.

People have different perceptions about assistive technology. Most of them are quite misinformed. When they think of assistive technology, what they can visualize is hard-to-use computer programs and other complicated machines. This is not the case. Some simple things can be regarded as assistive technologies. Something like a white cane or a magnifying glass. It is all about something that enables students to do things that they find difficult in their day to day activities.

The stakeholders involved with the implementation of assistive technology also need to work in partnership for efficiency to be actualized. Teachers have to work hand in hand with assistive technology professionals in order to determine the technologies that students need.  Sharing of ideas to this respect is helpful due to different viewpoints being presented. It ensures that the all the student needs have been addressed. Parents should be involved in the process too. This is because they spend a lot of time with their children hence could easily become a positive influence with regards to using these technologies.

Al l in all, assistive technology should be implemented in schools. It is only fair that students with disability have something that makes their work easier in a general inclusion classroom. This will help them from falling behind.


Bouck, E. C. (2016). A National Snapshot of Assistive Technology for Students With       Disabilities. Journal of Special Education Technology.

Bouck, E. C., & Flanagan, S. M. (2015). Exploring assistive technology and post-school    outcomes for students with severe disabilities. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive         Technology, 1-8.

Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.

Friedlander, B. (2015). Assistive Technology What Every Educator Needs to Know. Dude Pub.

Prater, M. A. (2007). Teaching strategies for students with mild to moderate disabilities.     Boston:

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