Assistive technology devices are identified in the IDEA 2004 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."
The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of such device.
(Authority 20 U.S.C. 1401(1)) Although the IDEA uses the term "device", it is important to recognize that assistive technology devices required by students with disabilities include hardware and software as well as stand-alone devices. Any tool can be considered to be an assistive technology device except for those assistive technology devices that are surgically implanted and have been excluded from the definition of an assistive technology device as defined in IDEA.
Assistive technology devices are available in a variety of categories to address functional capabilities of students with disabilities. These categories include but are not limited to:
Academic and Learning Aids
Electronic and non-electronic aids such as calculators, spell checkers, portable word processors, and computer-based software solutions that are used by students who has difficulty achieving in the educational curriculum
Aids for Daily Living
Self-help aids for use in activities such as eating, bathing, cooking, dressing, toileting, and home maintenance
Assistive Listening Devices and Environmental Aids
Electronic and non-electronic aids such as amplification devices, closed captioning systems, and environmental alert systems that assist students who are hard of hearing or deaf with accessing information that is typically presented through an auditory modality
Electronic and non-electronic devices and software solutions that provide a means for expressive and receptive communication for students with limited speech and language
Computer Access and Instruction
Input and output devices, alternative access aids, modified or alternative keyboards, switches, special software, and other devices and software solutions that enable students with a disabilities to use the classroom computer
Electronic and non-electronic aids such as switches, environmental control units, and adapted appliances that are used by students with physical disabilities to increase their independence across all areas of the curriculum
Electronic and non-electronic aids such as wheelchairs (manual and electronic), walkers, scooters that are used to increase personal mobility
Pre-vocational and Vocational Aids
Electronic and non-electronic aids such as picture-based task analysis sheets, adapted knobs, and adapted timers and watches that are used to assist students in completing pre-vocational and vocational tasks
Recreation and Leisure Aids
Electronic and non-electronic aids such as adapted books, switch adapted toys, and leisure computer-based software applications that are used by students with disabilities to increase participation and independence in recreation and leisure activities
Seating and Positioning
Adaptive seating systems and positioning devices that provide students with optimal positioning to enhance participation and access to the curriculum
Electronic and non-electronic aids such as magnifiers, talking calculators, Braille writers, adapted tape players, screen reading software applications for the computer, and Braille note-taking devices that assist students with visual impairments or blindness in accessing and producing information that is typically present in a visual (print) modality.
Examples of Assistive Technology Devices (not an exhaustive list):
- AT can be low tech like communication boards made of cardboard or fuzzy felt.
- AT can be high tech such as special purpose computers.
- AT can be hardware such as prosthetics, attachment devices (mounting systems), and positioning devices.
- AT can be computer hardware, like special switches, keyboards, and pointing devices.
- AT can be computer software such as screen-readers or communication software.
- AT can be inclusive or specialized learning materials and curriculum aids.
- AT can be specialized curricular software.
- AT can be much more, including electronic devices, wheel chairs, walkers, braces, educational software, power lifts, pencil holders, eye-gaze, and head trackers.