Keeping up with Assistive Tech

How does one keep up with the ever-growing field of assistive technology?  As one who has been involved with AT for nearly 20 years, I can tell you that it isn’t easy, but is worth the effort!  National conferences, such as Closing the Gap, ATIA, and CSUN, offer a wide variety of informative sessions and the opportunity to get some hands-on experience with new equipment and to chat with device developers and reps.  Manufacturer/distributors such as Prentke-Romich, Dynavox, and Ablenet, offer on-site and online trainings.

Periodically on this blog,  I will post resources that will help you keep up with new technology and — just as importantly — provide very valuable implementation strategies.  Far too often, the AT equipment is obtained, but the team struggles with how to integrate the functional use of AT into the student’s daily life.  (Don’t believe me?  Check out this YouTube video:  The Language Stealers).  If you have questions about AT, you are welcome to post them on the Apps and Technology message board.  And I hope the resources posted on this blog will be of help, too!

Getting started with AT?  It’s a big decision that requires careful consideration by all members of the IEP team.  The SETT Framework by Joy Zabala is an excellent place to start.

Need support with vocabulary selection and instruction?  Gail Van Tatenhove has developed Natural Aided Language Boards and many other materials that support AAC, particularly for users of Minspeak (found on Prentke-Romich devices).  In addition, Gail is an excellent presenter.

Another presenter who never disappoints is the queen of low-tech AT:  Linda Burkhart.  Check out her site for all kinds of great ideas, including make-it-yourself directions and Linda’s presentation schedule.

Janice Light, Ph.D., from Penn State University is widely published in the field of AAC research and is a frequent and dynamic presenter at large conferences.  Google her name for all kinds of articles and info about her presentations.

PrAACtical AAC features videos, articles, and other resources for AAC implementation.

YAACK (AAC connecting Young Kids) is a treasure trove of information on a variety of topics related to low- to high- tech AAC.

I could go on and on, but since the field of AT can be overwhelming, I’ll stop for now.  There’s plenty in this post to keep you busy for a while!


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