Assistive technology (AT) is necessary to allow special needs students to keep up with the other learners in their class. Just because a student is special needs doesn’t mean they cannot understand or do the work of other learners. Special needs learners may learn differently than other learners or they may have physical limitations. AT opens up a world of possibilities for special needs learners.
Potential disabilities I may encounter include brain injuries, paralysis, dyslexia, autism, attention hyper defecit disorder (ADHD), cerebral palsy, seizures, and mental retardation. Sometimes one disability brings on other problems. For example, often autistic students have muscle coordination problems such as difficulty jumping rope.
In order to identify and evaluate AT, I will attend seminars covering special education and AT and read journals in my field. Ideally, these seminars would be hands on, not lecture only. For example, if there is a new device to assist students with coordination problems, I would want to be able to touch, feel, and try this device myself. I would keep in mind specific students who might benefit from the new product.
Another way to evaluate AT is to speak with other special needs teachers to see what their students are using. These teachers will be able to provide feedback regarding what works and what doesn’t work for their students. This may be the most valuable method of identifying and evaluating AT.
Internet searches are another means of finding out about new and existing AT devices. Perhaps a company would allow a trial version of their product or a trial period to see how the student responds to the new AT. Every student is different and what works for one student may not work for another.
Cited Research Center. (n.d.) Using assistive technology to support writing. Retrieved from
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. (August 4, 2011).
Educational technology/assistive technology. Retrieved from