While technology has become more important in people's everyday lives, it has always been a useful tool to help students with disabilities reach their educational goals and function in required settings. The Assistive Technology Act was developed to define and meet the needs of those students.
The Assistive Technology Act was initially passed in 1988 and has been revised several times as technology needs have become more apparent. The latest revision occurred in 2004. The overall purpose of the act is to define assistive technology and mandate its consideration when determining educational goals. It incorporates the needs of people with disabilities of all ages who will benefit from the use of assistive technology in any setting.
Assistive Technology Act in 1988
When first developed in 1988, there were some main objectives that were spelled out. First, was to make people understand the need for assistive technology and how it helps people with disabilities.Education was to be provided on the procedures of procuring assistive technology. Funding was to be increased to assist more people who would benefit in gaining access to assistive technology. Finally, there was to be an increase in the coordination of private and public funding sources.
Assistive Technology Act in 2004
Although there were several amendments over the years, the most recent one was done in 2004. These objectives were done in order to enhance the already existing Assistive Technology Act and fullfill needs that were not originally met. Implementing the use of assistive technology in order to help individuals transition between one setting and another allows them to continue to have the freedom that the equipment supplies, no matter where he or she goes. An increase in agencies working with people with disabilities to coordinate their services in regards to assistive technology was mandated. Also, the 2004 amendment forces the individual to be a larger part of the decision making process. Assitance will be provided to help improve and change laws in regards to assistive technology along with an continued increase in education and awareness about the need for that technology.
Impact on Teachers
The Assistive Technology Act impacts classroom teachers by forcing them to consider assistive technology when working with students and developing their education plans. This is required as part of the IEP process, but can also be done to solve problems that develop within the classroom. In order to accomplish this, it is important for teachers to take into account each individual student and what they will be working towards achieving.
When initially writing an IEP with a student and her education team, the goals must be developed first. Once this is done, consideration should be given to how theyit will be accomplished and what barriers might prevent that from happening. At this point, an assistive technology solution should be considered. For example, if a student's goal is to participate in a regular education math class with same aged peers but is not able to complete the work due to orthopedic issues preventing her from holding a pencil, that is the barrier. Assistive technology could be used to help her overcome that. Some examples could be a pencil grip or adapted pencil if it is not a severe issue, or a lap top computer for more serious orthopedic limits.
Teacher's of special education students must always advocate for their students. Part of this involves looking at solutions to assist their students in becoming as independent as possible. The Assistive Technology Act spells out ways to do this such as education on the definition of assistive technology, defining who will benefit and utilizing outside resources so that students will have their needs met through all parts of their lives. It provides teachers a well rounded document that can be used as an outline of how to insure assistive technology requirements are met.