Learning How to Use Accessible Assistive Technology
We began this Accessible Assistive Technology in Your IEP Series with posts about determining what accessible AT you need for school purposes and for use at home and in your community. But accessible AT is not enough; you need to know how to use it and how you can use it for tasks that come up in the future. Great news: the same law that requires schools to provide “accessible technology services” as well as the AT devices referenced above.
What Kind of Accessible AT Training Can My School Provide?
AT services include many things, including:
- Evaluations of AT needs
- Providing, maintaining, repairing, or replacing AT devices
- Coordinating with other services
- Training or technical assistance
Accessible AT Training: Myth or fact?
AT training depends on what you need. Limitations that are not directly related to your IEP needs are not valid. Here are some statements about accessible AT training in the IEP:
If my accessible AT device breaks, I have to pay for it: MYTH
This is a myth. Under the law, AT services include maintaining, repairing, and replacing AT devices. Now, it’s important to be careful with all equipment, but the law says that the school is responsible to pay for needed maintenance, repair, and replacement of AT devices you need.
Only school employees can provide accessible AT training: MYTH
This is a myth. Training isn’t limited to that provided by school employees. If the school employees can’t provide the training you need on the accessible AT device you need, the school can hire outside contractors to provide that training until they have employees who can do it.
Accessible AT training must be directly related to current classes in school: MYTH
This is a myth. AT training isn’t limited to school tasks. As noted in earlier posts, IEP services include both what you need at school right now and transition services. Transition services include preparation for life after high school graduation: education, employment, and independent living. Accessible AT training should meet each of these needs.
Accessible AT training can only occur during the school day: MYTH
This is a myth. AT training doesn’t need to be provided during the school day. Your need for accessible AT training doesn’t mean you should have to drop any classes or electives to “fit in” the time. Accessible AT training is needed IN ADDITION TO classes, electives, and extracurricular activities. You do not need to give up anything in order to get the accessible AT training you need.
User manuals and links to YouTube videos are enough AT training: MYTH
While user manuals and links to YouTube videos may be somewhat useful, they do not constitute AT training. After all, your regular classes have teachers working with students. They might use textbooks and videos, but they are still involved in teaching. Just as a Calculus class requires more than a textbook and some videos, so does accessible AT training.
Only students can receive accessible AT training: MYTH
This is a myth. The law states that your IEP can include accessible AT device training for your parents, teachers, employers and others. In fact, these services must be included in your IEP if they are needed to provide you FAPE (free appropriate public education).
You mean my parents and teachers can get accessible AT training for device I use? Yes!
This is true. The law provides that a student’s IEP can require that the school provide training or technical assistance for parents, other family members, and school personnel in relation to AT that a student needs.
Even my employer can get accessible AT training for device I use? Yes!
This is true. The law specifically mentions employers and others who work with you as being able to receive training or technical assistance, if needed, to support your use of accessible AT at work.
How do I Get the Accessible AT Devices and Training I Need into My IEP?
We’ll delve into this question next week, in the fourth part of this four-part series: Accessible Assistive Technology in Your IEP. Please also feel free to contact us at the free Bridges Helpdesk anytime.
Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:
- Our Accessible web form
- Email: Helpdesk@imagemd.org
- Text: Send to: (410) 305-9199
- Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page or Facebook Messenger
- Voice mail: Call (443) 320-4003, leave a voice mail message, and we will return your call
This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.