What is assistive technology?
Assistive technology is 'any device or system that allows individuals to perform tasks they would otherwise be unable to do or increases the ease and safety with which tasks can be performed' (World Health Organisation, 2004). It is a broad term that refers to any tool, low tech or high tech, which can be used to enable student learning.
Assistive technology is changing rapidly and it is no longer confined to being specialised, high-tech equipment. It can be low tech, free/low-cost technology or settings that are built-in to consumer devices. Assistive technology can also be used to benefit a wide range of students in the classroom.
Some examples of assistive technology that are used regularly in classrooms include:
- literacy software or built in settings that allow text to be read aloud to a student
- software or settings that adjust the screen display to suit a student’s needs
- tools that allow magnification of content on a screen
- speech to text tools that allow a student to dictate their writing
- communication tools that can be low or high tech.
Making decisions about assistive technology
As part of the personalised learning and support process, assistive technology may be considered as a way to support a student’s access to the curriculum.
Decision-making about assistive technology starts at the school and includes the student, the parents or carers and relevant staff.
The school learning and support team facilitates the personalised learning and support process where appropriate adjustments are considered. These adjustments may include the use of assistive technology to support the student’s access and participation in their learning.
Local School Services can provide additional support if needed.
- Personalising Learning with Technology (coming soon). This NSW Department of Education e-learning course will assist teachers to make informed decisions about choosing and implementing technology to support students with diverse needs.
- The department’s NESA accredited online course, Understanding Personalised Learning and Support includes useful information regarding assistive technology for teachers and support staff in NSW public schools. The course aims to build and strengthen the capacity of teachers and schools to identify and respond to the individual learning and support needs of every student, particularly those with disability or additional needs in learning.
How-to videos (coming soon!)
A range of short videos will soon be available that explore how to use and implement assistive technology in the classroom.
Accessibility options on a range of technology
Many devices have built in accessibility features which can assist students to access the curriculum, including:
- Microsoft/Windows accessibility website
- Mac/iOS (iPad) accessibility website
- Google accessibility website
- Android accessibility website.
Assistive technology and the NDIS
- The NSW Department of Education’s NDIS fact sheet: Assistive Technology (Word 107KB)
- Assistive Technology on the NDIS website