Assistive Technology and Accessible Instructional Materials

Technology is an integral part of our lives in the 21st Century and our children are growing up as "digital natives". For some students the computer is more than just a helpful tool, it is their access to learning to read, write, and do math. For students with physical disabilities, it becomes their paper and pencil and the method they use to communicate their mastery of concepts. For students with cognitive disabilities, it becomes their adapted learning environment presenting information in a format that maximizes learning.

For students with disabilities, Assistive Technology (AT) can have impacts that are far-reaching and have the potential to yield enormous benefits. Having access to AT allows students with disabilities to hear, to see, to read, to access and to participate in the environments they learn and live in. Having timely access to textbooks in formats that students with disabilities can access is called "Accessible Instructional Materials" (AIM), is essential to students with disabilities, and is a right protected in the IDEIA law.

Research in Universal Design for Learning (UDL) proves that ALL students benefit from multiple means of engagement, representation, and expression.

Use of UDL, AIM, and AT can create levels of independence that allow students to expand their worlds, unleash and enhance their abilities. Both low tech and high tech AT applications have been successfully used in classrooms throughout Vermont to ensure students’ success in the general education curriculum. Making informed AT decisions is one of the hardest things that IEP teams are charged with doing.