What is Assistive Technology (AT)?

Assistive technology devices are identified in the IDEA 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 the functional capabilities of children with disabilities. An exclusion was added to the definition of an assistive technology device in the 2004 Re-authorization of IDEA to address surgically implanted devices such as cochlear implants. Specifically, it was stated that an assistive technology device “does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of such device.”

The definition is VERY general. In schools we are tasked with determining if Assistive Technology devices and services are required/ needed in order to access the curriculum. AT is an umbrella term that covers many possible tools including:

  • Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) alternatives for students who are either not verbal or have verbal limitations.
  • Curriculum Access, reading, writing, physical access, computer use, etc.

The professional development we design and offer at Susan Simmons & Associates covers all areas of AT accept AAC. In other words, curriculum access related AT.

Available Assistive Technology Courses

Assistive Technology FAQ

Good question it isn’t really very clear. There isn’t an endorsement for assistive technology to be added to teaching credentials.

The California Ed Code requirements are somewhat unclear. 
Assistive technology services shall be provided only by personnel who possess a:
(A) license in Physical Therapy issued by a licensing agency within the Department of Consumer Affairs, where the utilization of assistive technology services falls within the scope of practice of physical therapy as defined in Business and Professions Code section 2620 and implementing regulations; or
(B) license in Occupational Therapy issued by a licensing agency  within the Department of Consumer Affairs; or
(C) license in Speech-Language Pathology issued by a licensing agency within the Department of Consumer Affairs or a valid document, issued by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, where the function of the assistive technology service is augmentative communication; or
(D) baccalaureate degree in engineering with emphasis in assistive technology; or
(E) baccalaureate degree in a related field of engineering with a graduate certificate in rehabilitation technology or assistive technology; or
(F) certification from the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America and Assistive Technology Provider (RESNA/ATP); or
(G) a certificate in assistive technology applications issued by a  regionally accredited post-secondary institution; or
(H) a credential that authorizes special education of physically handicapped, orthopedically handicapped, or severely handicapped pupils.

Susan’s note re: ed code
Basically, the only folks not on this list are teachers of non-severely handicapped students, who could qualify under (G). However, most AT for students who are non-severe could be considered AT Accommodations. The SLP, OTs, PTs listed above generally don’t have experience or expertise in AT.

It is critical to be able to show substantial training and expertise in AT (whatever your license or credential) if you are conducting AT Assessments & providing AT Services.

Seriously consider an AT Coach. Talking though cases, having an experienced AT read reports and make suggestions as well as help preparing for litigious cases is invaluable. See Download Online Coaching Flyer Here.

These are my favorite Conferences to attend for 2018-19

Assistive Technology
Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA)
I attend this conference regularly for a national view on what is happening in Assistive Technology.

Computer Using Educators National Conference (CUE)
www.CUE.org    Basic membership is free!
I love this organization and often speak at the conference. There are many professional learning opportunities throughout the year. The conference offers a diverse learner symposium which selects topics specific to AT & UDL related topics. The conference is my way of keeping up on what is happening in educational technology.

Closing the Gap
www.closingthegap.com September 26-28, 2018 in Minnesota.
I have attended this conference and really enjoyed it. The pre-conference sessions are superb as well. For me the September timeframe is not an easy time to travel.

California State University Center on Disabilities Conference (CSUN)
I have not been recommending this conference for a few years because the program was not K-12 education focused. Check the program before considering this one. Often CUE is very close to the same time and is all k-12 focused.

Yes, absolutely. Remember Ed Code doesn’t say we have to “assess” every student. E.g. write a long report. It’s about accessing the curriculum. What is needed?  There is an excellent resource on AT and 504 plans.  Click here for Informational PDF.

AT Certification FAQ

Many certificate programs are “short and sweet”. You need a certificate if you do not meet other specific credentials listed in CA Ed Code. However even if you do have a certificate and or credential on the list, assessors need experience assessing students and updated knowledge regarding what tools and techniques are being used.

A natural question in contentious and non-contentious cases would be “How did you consider the needs of this student?”

I know what you mean! I’ve tried several ways of teaching the course. In order to give you the time you need to experience software & apps as well as practice each aspect of the process we need the time. Each of the last 5 years that I have done the training I ask the participants what we could cut out and how long it should be. Virtually everyone wishes it was longer and says not to cut anything.

High incidence and physically disabled students have very different issues from those with communication issues. AAC must have an SLP participate in the assessment process even if they are not knowledgeable about AAC as the language issues are central. AAC needs to be a separate course.

You will have solid foundational skills. If the first few you do are highly litigious and you are challenged by attorneys and advocates it could really turn you away from the joys of this work.

Your confidence will build as you see more students. You’ll meet AT mentors in the training and I will happily read & edit reports for you as you go.

What's Coming Up?

2020-2021 New Virtual AT Courses are enrolling now.
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