Assistive technology (AT) can help ensure that all students with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) by allowing access to the general education curriculum and settings, providing opportunities for meaningful social interactions, and facilitating progress toward their educational goals. Assistive technology can significantly impact independence, communication, self-expression, self-esteem, and overall quality of life.
What is Assistive Technology?
Assistive technology is any technology used by individuals with disabilities who may otherwise not be able to or would not be able to perform a task as well without the technology. Assistive technology includes both the devices (communication devices, apps, extensions, hardware, software, mobility devices) and the services provided to access and implement the devices. Assistive technology consists not only of high-tech devices such as laptops, environmental control devices, or electric wheelchairs, but also low-tech devices such as pencil grips, schedules, or laminated communication boards. Assistive technology must be considered for all students with a disability regardless of disability identification.
Assistive technology device means 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 (34 CFR §300.5).
Assistive technology service means any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device (34 CFR §300.6). The term includes:
- The evaluation of the needs of a child with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the child in the child's customary environment;
- Purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by children with disabilities;
- Selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing assistive technology devices;
- Coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs;
- Training or technical assistance for a child with a disability or, if appropriate, that child's family; and
- Training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals providing education or rehabilitation services), employers, or other individuals who provide services to employ or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of that child.
Virginia’s State Technology Plan
The Board of Education maintains a six-year plan to integrate educational technology into the Standards of Learning and the curricula of the public schools in Virginia. Incorporation of assistive technologies are addressed in the 2018-2023 Educational Technology Plan for Virginia to support all students and addressed specifically to address learning, teaching, and infrastructure required to support such technologies.
Virginia Assistive Technology, Tools, and Strategies (VATTS)
- VATTS: Consideration and Assessment Guidance Document-This is a PDF document.- Guidance for school divisions in the consideration and assessment of AT, including planning and implementing those services for students with disabilities.
- VATTS: Consideration Guide-This is a PDF document.– Designed to organize data and facilitate the decision-making process for the consideration and assessment of AT, other technology tools, and strategies that may be required by the student.
- VATTS: Instructions and Definitions-This is a PDF document.- Provides instructions for completing the VATTS: Consideration Guide as well as definitions for many of the terms used within the document.
- VATTS: Resource Guide-This is a PDF document.- Provides instructional strategies, AT solutions, modifications, accommodations, and examples used to address areas of need identified through the AT consideration process to support student success.
- Assistive Technology Network – The Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE’s) Assistive Technology (AT) Network is a dynamic group of AT Specialists representing the VDOE Training and Technical Assistance Centers (TTACs), Virginia Commonwealth University-Autism Center for Excellence (VCU-ACE), and Accessible Instructional Materials Center of Virginia (AIM-VA). The AT Network supports VDOE priorities in providing training and resources includes the following:
- AT consideration and assessment
- AT implementation and decision-making
- Augmentative and augmentation communication (AAC)
- Development and support of school division Assistive Technology Teams
- Development of school division policies and procedures related to AT
- Assistive Technology Tools in Schools (PDF) - This guide is designed to support professionals and families in understanding AT and identifying possible AT tools for students from preschool through high school.
- The Guidelines for School Division Transfer of Assistive Technology Devices (Word) These guidelines outline requirements and best practices related to the transfer of assistive technology between two parties. This document provides an overview of the requirements related to the transfer of assistive technology as well as sample forms for use when developing transfer agreements.
- Accessible Instructional Materials Center of Virginia (AIM-VA) - AIM-VA provides accessible instructional materials to eligible Virginia K-12 students who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Accessible instructional materials are alternate print materials, (e.g., braille, electronic files) used by students who are not able to use traditional print formats.