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When writing IEP goals which incorporate the use of assistive technology it is important to focus on the task and not the equipment. Assistive technology should not be the determining factor, but a way to meet educational goals. However, when determining reachable goals, consideration should be given to the progress that assistive technology would allow.
It is also important to keep in mind that the Individualized with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires schools to provide assistive technology that is necessary in order to achieve a student’s educational goals. There are many ways to incorporate assistive technology into an IEP. The following are only a few of the examples of goals that utilize assistive technology in a variety of settings.
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The student will activate and reactivate a blender using a switch in order to make a drink or snack three times per session. This goal requires the student to hit a switch in order to turn on the blender for a set amount of time. Once it turns off, the student will be required to notice and hit it again. This not only allows the student to participate in making something that she will eat or drink, but also requires her to understand the cause and effect of hitting the switch. Other uses for a switch are operating a vacuum, electric knife or mixer.
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The student will hit the correct button on an augmentative communication device to choose a color in order to complete a craft. This goal allows a student to utilize assistive technology in order to communicate a desire. This skill will benefit her throughout the school day and can extend to choosing food choices at lunch, order of work that needs to be completed and activities to do be done when her work is finished. For students who are unable to complete this skill with an augmentative communication device, a lower tech solution could be used. An example of this could involve the student looking at the choice they would like when they are presented with two pictures or objects.
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The student will use a visual timer to manage his work speed in order to complete his job in a given amount of time. This can be done in a variety of ways depending on what the specific job entails. It also can carry over into goals for students with less severe disabilities. For example, it can help a student manage his time while completing desk work in a class.
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The student will press a switch with voice output in order to greet someone in the store three types per trip. This goal serves two purposes. It shows that the student understands to hit the switch in order to initiate conversation with someone passing by. It also can allow them to complete a job such as a greeter in a store.
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While assistive technology can enhance a student's ability to meet IEP goals, it should not deter them from social interaction. Because of this it is important to find solutions that are age appropriate so the person using the equipment is viewed as a peer. Finding a piece of equipment that will work across many goals and settings will also be beneficial because it avoids the need for training with multiple technologies and is more cost-effective. Another goal is finding something that is easy to adjust as a student's needs change over the years. By defining educational goals and the road blocks a student will have reaching them, it becomes possible to see how assistive technology can be incorporated into the IEP.