School District Services
— Applying Technology to Assist Students Learn How They Learn Best
Our comprehensive experience in learning processes and brain-based research enhances our ability to offer multi-sensory technology solutions for our students. We work with students, parents and districts to find solutions that are practical, efficient and effective.
Assistive technology is any device that helps a student overcome barriers to their learning and increase their capacity to learn. Assistive technology is generally applied to students with disabilities but can be helpful to a wide range of students. The goal of assistive technology is to help a student to better perform the tasks required of them in the classroom and to overcome obstacles that are inhibiting their ability to learn. Students have many different learning styles and educational needs and the goal of education is to help a child have the best chance to succeed. Assistive technology can help with this goal through improving a student’s ability to learn in the way they learn best. Student assistive technology is a growing field and there are currently many options available to help your child find success.
Assistive technology is most commonly thought of as technology devices such as computers and software. However, assistive technology comes in many forms and is typically categorized as “low-tech”, “medium-tech”, and “high-tech.” Examples of low tech assistive technology can include graphic organizers, sensory items, and even pencil grips. There are also many more technologically focused assistive technology tools such as electronic worksheets, screen magnifiers or text enlargement software, TTS (text-to-speech) devices which read printed text aloud, lecture recording software, and many other devices and software programs that can greatly benefit students learning. Whatever a student’s needs, there are likely assistive technology options that can help.
The needs of the student and the availability and accessibility of assistive technology will largely determine your best course of action for obtaining assistive technology. While some assistive technology can easily be acquired through your own efforts, some technologies may be better obtained through the education system. Public Education systems in the United States are required to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to all eligible students and partnering with a student’s school and district can help you create a plan for the success of your student and leverage resources to help your student succeed in the classroom or wherever their learning environment may be.
In order to obtain assistive technology through your school system, you will first want to have your student participate in an evaluation process. This will help you and your student’s educators best determine what your student needs and how the education system can support you in meeting those needs. These evaluations should generally be conducted by an independent professional who, as a 3rd party, can assess the student’s needs without bias, and can leverage their professional experience to determine how to best help a student succeed. Da Vince Education and Research is one of these excellent professional education organizations and there are several similar organizations available in New York and in the United States.
Once the evaluation is complete, it can then be used to help create an IEP or an Individualized Education Program, which is a written plan that documents your student’s needs and the strategies you and the school can take to help them succeed. You will want to ensure that as part of the IEP, you examine your student’s need for assistive technology and that you make sure to document clearly any assistive technology services that the student will want to receive. This documentation is important to make sure that you have a clear plan for helping your student and that everyone involved understands that plan and the assistive technology involved. The district can then work to help you obtain any of those assistive technology devices that your student needs.
After a student receives their assistive technology device, you will want to make sure they receive proper training and time to practice to be able to use the device effectively. As your student continues to progress in their education plan, their assistive technology needs may also change. Regularly reviewing the IEP can help both parents and educators ensure that the student is receiving the help they need and that any adjustments that are needed as the student progresses can be made in a timely manner. Parents, teachers and district administrators also need to ensure that all parts of the student’s learning environment, such as the home, classroom and the student’s school activities are working together to help the student succeed and that the assistive technology the student is using is effective and accessible in all of their learning environments. Making sure the assistive technology device can be taken home and function properly at home or that a student has a plan and assistive technology solution as needed for all of their learning environments will make sure that your student can succeed with their learning both at home, in the classroom and in all of their learning activities.
The cost for an assistive technology device will naturally vary depending on the nature of the technology needed and the availability of that technology. The student’s evaluation will determine the type of assistive technology that is needed and collaborating with the school and district can significantly help lower costs. In many cases, the school will provide the assistive technology device for the student after the evaluation. However, the school will then own the device and the student would not be able to take the device with them should they transition to another institution and another evaluation may be needed and the student’s next institution. For students who wish to own their own technology there may be options for funding available or even state programs for device loaning or recirculation which can help lower costs. While some assistive technology can be expensive, there may also be alternative solutions to your student’s needs that are lower cost or even free. Exploring online and partnering with a professional education organization, such as Da Vinci Collaborative, as well as working with your student’s educational institution can help you find the best and most affordable solution for your needs.
Our independent evaluations help determine technologies that can play a role in your student’s academic success. Working with students, teachers and parents our consultants train and offer ongoing support in the use of the latest assistive technology devices. Reviewing the IEP, we consult with teachers and parents to make recommendations without the time and expense of a full report. We also offer home based consultations to assist students and parents in the use of Assistive Technology so the student has a fully integrated learning environment. We want to assist your student in being able to learn how they learn best.
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