Checklist: What to Consider When Buying Assistive Technology
We all know that technology inhabits every corner of our society and plays a crucial role in just about every industry there is. While most of us are familiar with a range of technologies, not many people know about assistive technology – tools that can help us think and learn differently.
AT is inexpensive and easy to use and is quickly becoming a core part of the classroom, especially those of the virtual variety. However, many educators and parents are still uncertain about what to look for in assistive technology.
Read on to learn about what you should consider when buying assistive technology.
Assistive technology is classified as any software, device, or equipment that aids users work around challenges to learn, function, and communicate more effectively. An excellent example of AT would be the wheelchair or text-to-speech software that enables the visually-impaired to interpret what’s on their screens.
These tools can help users work around various challenges while simultaneously playing into their strengths. This is particularly important for children with difficulty learning, as it can help these children thrive in and out of the classroom.
There are many myths about AT, with the most prominent being that using AT is ‘cheating.’ Others worry that children who use assistive technology will become too reliant on it and will not function without it.
Finding the Right AT for You
As with anything, the AT market is quite saturated, making finding a good AT quite challenging. One helpful approach is to choose a technology that targets a specific area of struggle. For example, if a child is having problems writing, try dictation technology – words will appear on the screen as they talk.
If you have access to a smart mobile device, like a smartphone or tablet, you can equip it with AT through apps. Likewise, if you own a laptop or a desktop PC, you can purchase AT software and reading, writing, and math programs.
Checklist of AT Considerations
There are a few things that you should take into consideration when buying assistive technology. Here are some of the most important ones:
- Will this tool address the specific needs and challenges of your child?
- Will the tool play to your child’s strength?
- Can the tool easily be incorporated into everyday life?
- Is your child able to use it? (Let them try out the demo version)
- Will you have training and support using the tool, even if it’s only used at school?
- Will teachers have training and support using the tool?
These are some of the most important things that you should be keeping in mind when on the market for assistive technology.
Assistive technology is on its way to becoming a core part of the classroom, so it would be useful to jump on the bandwagon now. If there’s an area of struggle in your child’s education, then AT can help bridge that gap.