Friday, December 27, 2013

Accessibility in Education is where it's AT

Learning has never been more accommodating than it is today, thanks to innovative advances in Assistive Technology (AT). Fortunately, students today have access to lots of different technology that assists them in the learning process.

The purpose of this blog post is to bring awareness to Assistive Technology and to highlight some of the best resources and learning tools that are available to our students.  However, before we take a look at some of the best AT tools, let's look at a quick definition of Assistive Technology.

In the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 602 [1], AT is defined 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 functional capabilities of children with disabilities" (idea.ed.gov).

"There are two important concepts in this definition.  First, assistive technology is any item or piece of equipment.  Second, AT increases the ability of a person with a disability to do something functional, such as read, write, or organize thoughts" (Bowser, G. 2013).

As an Instructional Technology Specialist, I try my best to provide staff, students, and parents with the best tools and resources to assist with teaching and learning in the digital age.  Below is a compilation of some of my favorite AT tools and resources.  Thankfully, most of these AT tools are self-explanatory, so I have just included links and screenshots to the tools that are featured in this post for you to explore and share.


Accessibility for iOS






Accessibility for Mac




Accessibility on Android



Google Voice Search



Google Advanced Search



Google Translate



Dragon Dictation



Chrome Extensions

Chrome Webstore Extensions: Accessibility




Other Chrome AT Apps & Extensions

While these are only just a few of my favorite AT tools, I have found them to be extremely useful and valuable to students.  I encourage you to explore these Assistive Technology tools and try to continue to find creative ways to enhance learning for all students.   After all, if we want to level the playing field regarding equitable access for ALL students, "Accessibility in education is where it's AT".

Please leave a comment to this blog post if you have a favorite AT tool that you have personally found to be useful and valuable in education.


More Assistive Technology Resources 


References
  1. idea.ed.gov/explore/view/p,root,statute,I,A,6021,
  2. Bowser, G. Assistive Technology in the Digital Age. Learning&Leading with Technology. September/October 2013 Vol. 41 No.2

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