The advancement and changing landscape of technology has impacted the lives of individuals with disabilities, enabling them to lead fuller and richer lives.
The Connecticut Assistive Technology Guidelines were released in 2013. Since its publication, there have been significant changes in the availability of technology tools and resources that can improve educational outcomes for students with disabilities. The reason for the update is to ensure that current information is identified and websites in the document are brought up to date.
Fortunately, current aspects of assistive technology (AT) are no longer “different” and fall within the realm of universal design for learning (UDL). In particular, students with disabilities are able to access high-tech AT such as smartphones and tablets of all types in order to perform a variety of functions designed for anyone without stigmatization or prejudice, which can be used to enhance teaching and learning experiences. As well, wireless mobile and smart home technologies (e.g., Google Home, Amazon Echo, text-to-speech software, etc.) promote self-reliance and enable young adults with disabilities to be as independent as possible within their limitations.
However, technology by itself or just providing students with devices does not improve outcomes and make learning more effective. For students with disabilities, the human interface remains the most important aspect for educators to implement AT with fidelity for students with disabilities. As new technology and apps emerge at such a rapid pace, it is important now more than ever for educators to understand that technology is not an end in itself but rather a tool, which leads to new approaches to teaching and learning. Educators who embrace the potential of technology discover an innovative set of tools and applications that can better serve them and all of their students.
Technology offers educators, students, and their families more choice and voice. They have more options than ever before to accommodate different needs and types of learning, to demonstrate that learning, and provide connections to share information and partner in learning. By having more educational supports, tools, and devices at their disposal, students with and without disabilities may feel a greater sense of purpose and ownership in their learning and education in general—allowing opportunities to tap the potential they possess for success.
(Updated March 2019)