What is Assistive Technology?
Assistive Technology (AT) is “any device, software, or equipment that helps people work around challenges so they can learn, communicate, and function better.” AT includes a wide variety of no-tech, low-tech, and high-tech tools. Some assistive technology tools cost nothing, and others can be fairly inexpensive. Many teachers are using some tools that function as AT—even if they don’t think of them that way.
Is AT an accommodation or a tool? This has become a debate with many teams. Some even ask where would we include AT in the student's IEP? The best way I could think of to distinguish AT as a tool or an accommodation is to look at it this way --as a tool, AT is a way for students to access information to assist his/her barriers to learning. Accommodation is more of the method or strategy used to remove the barrier (which may require AT to do it). To lower those barriers, teachers can access a set of tools—collectively called assistive technology—that have been designed to help these students participate fully and naturally in inclusive learning environments.
For example: Student is allowed to type assignments= accommodation; Access to a word processing device with word prediction = AT
Pacer.org offers additional examples of how to distinguish AT as a tool verse an accommodation.