Category Archives: Assistive Technology

Visual Impairment (VI)

What the Law Says  Eye Test



Sec. 300.8 Child with a disability.

Visual impairment including blindness means an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness.


What this Simply Means


Vision impairment is defined as a limitation of one or more functions of the eye (or visual system).  If your child’s visual impairment affects his/her educational performance EVEN WITH CORRECTION he/she may qualify as a student that is VI or Visually Impaired.  “Even with correction” means having had surgery or wearing glasses/contacts and vision is still impaired.


Identifying students who are blind or visually impaired and establishing eligibility is the first step in meeting a student’s need. This is followed by a thorough assessment to determine the students unique visual needs and what factors assist a student’s use of vision and what factors negatively impact the student. If you think your child may qualify as a student with a Visual Impairment then contact the campus assessment specialist to start the referral process.   See the attached link for a step by step referral and testing process:


The most common vision problems are refractive errors, more commonly known as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia. Refractive errors occur when the shape of the eye prevents light from focusing directly on the retina.


What are the Common Accommodations/Modifications used in the Classroom?

  • Large Print Materials i.e.: text, calculator, keyboards
  • Preferential Seating i.e.: near the speaker or board, near natural light
  • Braille
  • Supplemental Aids i.e.: magnifier, lined paper, slant board, colored overlay, lamp
  • Pass to leave class early during transitions from class to class
  • Use of elevator
  • Buddy to help student transition around the school
  • Additional desk space
  • Mobility tools i.e.: cane
  • Talking Dictionary
  • Extended Time









  1. Nearsightedness= (myopia) is a common vision condition in which you can see objects near to you clearly, but objects farther away are blurry. Nearsightedness may develop gradually or rapidly, often worsening during childhood and adolescence.
  2. Farsightedness=  (hyperopia) is a common vision condition in which you can see distant objects clearly, but objects nearby may be blurry. The degree of your farsightedness influences your focusing ability.
  3. Astigmatism=  a defect in the eye or in a lens caused by a deviation from spherical curvature, which results in distorted images, as light rays are prevented from meeting at a common focus.
  4. Presbyopia=  farsightedness caused by loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye, occurring typically in middle and old age.



Assistive Technology

What the Law says

Sec. 300.5 Assistive technology device.

Assistive technology device means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability. The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of such device.


What this Simply means

Although IDEA (the law) uses the term “device,” it is important to recognize that assistive technology devices required by students with disabilities include hardware and software as well as stand-alone devices. Almost any tool can be considered to be an assistive technology device except for those assistive technology devices that are surgically implanted (cochlear implant) and have been excluded from the definition of an assistive technology device as defined in IDEA.

There are three different types of Assistive technology: low, mid, and high.

Low:  Low tech AT are devices or equipment that don’t require much training, may be less expensive and do not have complex or mechanical features.  Examples of Low tech AT are:

  • specialized pen or pencil grips
  • large print text
  • handheld magnifiers
  • seat cushions
  • slant boards

Mid: Mid tech AT devices or equipment that falls in the middle of the continuum may have some complex features, may be electronic or battery operated, may require some training to learn how to use and are more expensive than the low-tech devices.  Examples of Mid tech AT are:

  • talking spell checkers
  • books on CD
  • Simplified Voice Out-put device (“Big Mack,” “Voice in the Box,” “Cheap 4 Talk,” tape recorder or recordable device)

High:  High Tech AT refers to the most complex devices or equipment. These devices may have digital or electronic components, may be computerized, will likely require training and effort to learn how to use and cost the most.  Examples of High tech AT are:

  • Voice Output System (DynaVox)
  • Alternate mouse or keyboard for the computer (large print keyboard for visual impairment children)
  • Any type of special software such as; “OnScreen Keyboards” which are software-generated images of a standard or modified keyboard placed on the computer screen. The keys are selected by a mouse, touch screen, trackball, joystick, switch, or electronic pointing device or “Screen Reader” which is a software program that uses synthesized speech to “speak” graphics and text aloud. This type of program is used by people with limited vision or blindness or with a print disability, such as dyslexia.
  • Hearing aids IF the district provides it to the student


How do you get Assistive Technology (services) for your child?

After discussing a student’s present level of performance and developing the measurable annual goals, the IEP committee would describe how the student’s disability affects ability to participate in the classroom. If the ARDC believes the student requires any of the previously mentioned technology to access instruction or participate in the classroom in the areas of support for instruction (academic/function skills), visual difficulties/impairment, mobility/positioning/physical access, communication and cognition, then assistive technology is considered.

Based on the need, a referral for an AT evaluation will be made, consent will be given by you the parent, and an evaluation will take place.  The evaluation will determine if assistive technology is recommended. Those recommendations will be presented at an ARDC meeting, and the ARDC will make the final decision regarding the necessity of AT for your student.



Assistive Technology Act of 2004

“One of the major changes brought about by the Assistive Technology Act of 2004 was a change in purpose. Previous Acts focused on helping states build “systems for improving access to assistive technology devices for individuals with disabilities.”[3] With the 2004 edition, the Act now required States to provide direct aid to individuals with disabilities to ensure they have access to the technology they need. As a result, the majority of State efforts are required to be conducted in the following areas: assistive technology reutilization programs, assistive technology demonstration programs, alternative financing programs and device loan programs.”




Please enjoy the video.  Even though the identifying information is for individuals that live in Oklahoma we think the information is great and can apply to any state!







Orthopedic Impairment

What the Law SaysOI



Federal Regulations Sec. 300.8 Child with a disability.

Orthopedic impairment means a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by a congenital anomaly, impairments caused by disease (e.g., poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures).

What this Simply Means

An orthopedic impairment, as defined by the IDEA, is a bodily impairment that is severe enough to negatively affect a child’s educational performance. This disability category includes all orthopedic impairments, regardless of cause. Examples of potential causes of orthopedic impairment include genetic abnormality, disease, injury, birth trauma, amputation, burns, or other causes.

People with orthopedic impairments usually need physical accommodations or assistive technology in the school setting.  The specific impact on learning of an individual is contingent upon the disease, its severity, and individual factors. Two individuals with identical diagnoses may be quite different in terms of their capabilities.


The IDEA category of orthopedic impairments contains a wide variety of disorders. These can be divided into three main areas: neuromotor impairments, degenerative diseases, and musculoskeletal disorders. The specific characteristics of an individual who has an orthopedic impairment will depend on both the specific disease and its severity, as well as additional individual factors.

1.  Neuromotor impairment:  is an abnormality of, or damage to, the brain, spinal cord, or nervous system that sends impulses to the muscles of the body. These impairments are acquired at or before birth, and often result in complex motor problems that can affect several body systems. These motor problems can include limited limb movement, loss of urinary control, and loss of proper alignment of the spine. The two most common types of neuromotor impairments are cerebral palsy and spina bifida.

2.  Degenerative diseases: are composed of various diseases that affect motor development. The most common degenerative disease found in the school population is muscular dystrophy. Muscular dystrophy is a group of inherited diseases characterized by progressive muscle weakness from degeneration of muscle fibers.

3.  Musculoskeletal disorders: are composed of various conditions that can result in various levels of physical limitations. Two examples of musculoskeletal disorders include juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and limb deficiency.


Accommodations and Modifications

  • Special seating arrangements to develop useful posture and movements i.e.; air cushion, chairs with high backs or arm rails, platform attached to the bottom of the chair for the feet, raised desk or the use of a slant board
  • Instruction focused on development of gross and fine motor skills:  Occupational Therapy or Physical Therapy support
  • Physical Restrictions for PE, recess, transitions i.e; possible use of the elevator if in a 2 story school, transition from class to class early so that hallway is not crowded.  *If the student is unable to participate in PE then consider Adaptive PE
  • Possible Individual Health Plan that is monitored by the school nurse