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Virtual Toolkit for Education

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This virtual toolkit is designed to help K-12 educators identify assistive technology solutions and services for their students with disabilities and/or learning challenges. Here is help to learn about and find products, get questions answered on usage and implementation, and find resources for professional and program development. (All links open in a new window.)

Product Search Tools for Education

  • Techmatrix is a tool for searching and comparing assistive and educational technology products for students with different special needs. Content areas include mathematics, science, reading, writing, guidance for implementation, and differentiated instruction (among other resources). The site is created and maintained by the National Center for Technology Innovation (NCTI) and the Center for Implementing Technology in Education (CITEd).
  • Comparison of Scan-to-Read (Text-to-Speech) Programs: View, Download (Word)
  • Comparison of Speech Recognition (Speech-to-Text) Programs: View, Download (Word)
  • Assistive Technology and Learning Differences includes a comprehensive list of literacy software products (with links), including freeware and shareware, compiled by the South Carolina Assistive Technology Program. Also check out their AT and Learning Differences Web page.
  • Spectronics FAQs is a rich library of resources for learning about and comparing inclusive learning technologies. In depth information on everything from AAC tools and literacy software to switches and pointing devices. Spectronics is a vendor of inclusive learning technologies in Australia and New Zealand and keeps its resources current. Included here is an entire sub-library of product comparison charts.
  • BridgingApps is an impressive apps-for-persons-with-disabilities resource. Here users can search for apps reviewed using standards-based assessment tools as well as find resources on how to use mobile devices to effectively target skill development. BridgingApps is a program of Easter Seals Greater Houston.
  • Friendship Circle Apps - Excellent app reviews and recommendations by category - Communication, Social Skills, Education, Life Skills, Behavior, Speech and Language and Scheduling.
  • The Best List of Behavioral Apps EVAH! - Compiled by Jessica Minahan.
  • Learning Works for Kids - search for apps by Thinking Skill, Learning Skill or Learning Challenge.
  • Chrome AT Toolbox - Apps and Extensions for the Chrome browser.
  • EdTech Teacher - search apps by skill and learning activity.
  • AzTech Crazy for Chrome - A Symbaloo collection of recommended Chrome Apps and Extensions for struggling learners.
  • Assistive Technology Continuum of Low-Tech to High-Tech Tools by Kristen Eichleay and Susan DuBuske (for the Boston Public Schools) provides an introduction to a range of AT products for education.

Online Learning Communities

  • QIAT Listserv. QIAT ("quiet") stands for Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology Services. QIAT has the oldest listserv of assistive technology professionals and educators asking and answering questions on AT implementation and devices. Join this community to listen in or participate. You can also search the archives by keyword for advice from professionals who are working with students all over the country. Anyone may join.
  • Twitter Chats! Find your people on Twitter and share ideas, links, thoughts and resources (in 140 characters or less). Chats are searchable/joinable by hashtag. #atchat happens every Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET, #lidchat (low incidence disabilities chat) is each Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. Chats are happening for every aspect of education, from new teacher chats to middle school math chats to chats targeting local school districts and more. Check out #PWD and #AXSchat, and for some fun memes #HEYAAC. Explore the possibilities at this List of Epic Twitter EdChats.
  • Linkedin hosts a variety of groups of help to educators, including a K12 Assistive Technology Professionals group and Assistive Technology Professionals group.
  • Facebook groups include this page for Assistive Technology.

Assessment/Evaluation Tools

  • SETT Framework (Student-Environment-Tasks-Tools): Joy Zabala's four part model for promoting collaborative decision-making in all phases of assistive technology service design and delivery.
  • Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology Services (QIAT) provides best practices for AT services delivery. This resources page provides an AT Assessment Process Planner and a Plan for Evaluation of Effectiveness of Assistive Technology Use, among other guides.
  • Assessing Student Needs for Assistive Technology (ASNAT) is a free guide from WATI (Wisconsin AT Initiative). The initiative was funded by OSERS until 2009 and is now maintained by volunteers.
  • Education Tech Points: A Framework for Assistive Technology Planning was created by Gayl Bowser, M. Ed., and Penny Reed, Ph.D., in conjunction with the Coalition for Assistive Technology in Oregon.
  • Matching Person and Technology, created by Marcia Scherer, Ph.D., founder of the Institute for Matching Person & Technology, Inc.
  • AIM Explorer is a free tool that allows a user to read grade-leveled digital text with different access features common to most text readers and other supported reading software. Magnification, custom text and background colors, text-to-speech (synthetic and human), text highlighting, and layout options are presented in a logical sequence to help struggling readers decide which of these supports might help them to access and understand text.
  • AEM Navigator is a free tool that helps IEP teams make decisions about accessible educational materials. It is a step-by-step series of decision options, rather than a diagnostic tool, and is designed to guide the work of a collaborative team as they work through the needs of individual students.
  • PAR is the Protocol for Accommodations in Reading, a free download available from Don Johnston, Inc. that is used by educators to assess the effectiveness of specific reading accommodations for individual learners. PAR helps remove the guesswork by offering clear data on how a student learns best. It was developed by Dr. Denise DeCoste and Linda Bastiani Wilson.

Professional and Program Development Resources

Local Resources

  • Access to Learning: Assistive Technology and Accessible Instructional Materials (WORD) is a comprehensive guide for educators published by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Office of Digital Learning (Nov. 2012).
  • MassMATCH Assistive Technology Regional Centers are located in Boston and Pittsfield. They work with educators, parents, therapists, AT users and others. Make an appointment to learn about, try out, and borrow technology for education. The centers also make referrals for AT evaluations.
  • Collaborative Center for Assistive Technology and Training (CCATT), a Northampton-based program, is part of the nonprofit and multi-service Collaborative for Educational Services. CCATT offers a range of assistive technology services including product demonstration, evaluation, and training opportunities for students (pre K-age 22), families, and educators. Consulting services to schools are available.

Relevant Blogs and Podcasts

  • Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs is a blog of "resources and ideas for teachers of learners with severe, profound, intensive, significant, complex or multiple special needs" by Kate Ahern, M.Ed. (an AT Specialist with Easter Seals Boston).
  • EdTech Solutions: Teaching Every Student is the blog of Karen Janowski, an assistive and educational technology specialist for the Newton school district in Massachusetts.
  • A.T.TIPScast is an audio podcast produced by Christopher Bugaj, co-author of The Practical and Fun Guide to AT in Public Schools. The podcast is also practical and fun and usually less than 10 minutes long.
  • INDATA Podcasts. The Indiana Assistive Technology Act program (INDATA), operated by Easter Seals Crossroads, hosts three podcasts related to assistive technology: Assistive Technology Update, Accessibility Minute, and Assistive Technology FAQ.

Further AT for Education Links