Early Childhood Intervention
What is assistive technology?
Assistive technology allows people with disabilities to perform tasks and participate in everyday activities. It is any item, piece of equipment, or product that helps a person do something that an age-appropriate peer can do without assistance. Examples include a wheelchair used for mobility, a communication device to speak, digitized or Braille books to read, hearing aids to hear, or an oversized switch to activate a toy.
Families and professionals are increasingly using the Internet and technology to access information. Technology is a powerful tool that can help children with disabilities and developmental delays to be more independent and to participate more fully in games and other activities with their peers.
Here are resources that provide tips, tools, demonstrations, and information on how to use assistive technology in early care and education classrooms.
Valuable online resources
The following online resources can help families and teachers find and understand assistive technology.
A volunteer community of parents, therapists, doctors, and teachers share information on how they are using the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Android devices with children who have special needs. They have found these mobile devices to provide accessibility for children who may have been previously disengaged from the world because of challenging language, motor, or other developmental delays.
Given the rising number of apps on the market and the diverse skills of children with special needs, parents have found each other to be one of the best resources for choosing apps to enhance everyday life for their children. While this group is primarily parent-driven, they collaborate their efforts with the people who help their children develop particular skills—therapists and educators.
Visit http://bridgingapps.org/about/ for more information on creative and useful ways to incorporate technology into learning and development.
Tots ‘n Tech: Assistive technology for infants and toddlers
The Tots ‘n Tech Research Institute is an inter-university collaboration of Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia University, and Arizona State University, Tempe. The institute’s mission is to provide up-to-date information and resources about using adaptations, including assistive technology, with infants and toddlers to states, early intervention providers of all disciplines, and families across the country.
To achieve this mission, the institute provides technical assistance to states to help them enhance the use of adaptations with infants and toddlers and conducts a national research program about use of adaptations and assistive technology.
Visit https://inclusiveschools.org/tots-n-tech-assistive-technology-for-infants-and-toddlers/ for additional resources and information. Online newsletters are also provided.
The Center on Technology and Disability
The Center on Technology and Disability is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs. The center is designed to increase the capacity of families and providers to advocate for, acquire, and implement effective assistive and instructional technology practices, devices, and services.
Research-based technologies, used appropriately, have great potential to help infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities participate fully in daily routines; have increased access to the general educational curriculum; improve their functional outcomes and educational results; and meet college- and career-ready standards.
Go to www.ctdinstitute.org/ and click on the Teachers portal to access webinars and learning materials about assistive technology and its use in the classroom.
Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) is a statewide program within Texas Health and Human Services that assists families who have children birth to 36 months with developmental delays or disabilities.
For more information, visit hhs.texas.gov/eci.