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Assistive Technology

Assistive technology is a generic term that includes a variety of products, devices, and software applications used by individuals with disabilities to participate and interact with the world around them.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), §300.5, defines assistive technology 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 a child with a disability. The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of such device."

Assistive technology may also consist of both “low tech” and “high tech” solutions, depending on the needs of the student and the nature of the interaction. Using on-screen magnifiers or text-to-speech solutions built in to computer operating systems can provide students with some functionality. For students who require additional support, third-party applications can often extend and improve upon the level of access needed.

More recently, the increased prevalence of mobile devices and apps allows for greater personalization of such devices for individuals with disabilities. This has resulted in a shift from institutions dictating the type of assistive technologies a student would use to a student advocating the assistive technology solution that works best for their needs. The opportunity to customize an individual device offers a student greater independence and autonomy when engaging with the campus community.

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