NOTICE: Coronavirus Guidance for School Districts: Per Governor’s executive order, in-school class cancellations remain in effect until at least April 20, 2020.
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Connecticut Assistive Technology Guidelines - Section 1: For Ages 3-21


Printed with permission from Kentucky Assistive Technology Services

accessible. In the case of a facility, readily usable by a particular individual; in the case of a program or activity, presented or provided in such a way that a particular individual can participate, with or without auxiliary aids; in the case of electronic resources, accessible with or without adaptive computer technology.

access barriers. Any obstruction that prevents people with disabilities from using standard facilities, equipment and resources.

activities of daily living. Activities that affect a person’s ability to perform tasks that are essential for self-care, such as bathing, grooming, feeding oneself, dressing, toileting, and mobility, including walking, transferring, or independently using a wheelchair to move from one place to another.

adaptive technology. Hardware or software products that provide access to a computer that is otherwise inaccessible to a person with a disability.

advocacy. Speaking or acting on behalf of someone to protect his or her rights and needs.

alternative and augmentative communication (AAC). Any system that aids individuals who are not independent verbal communicators. The system can include speech, gestures, sign language, symbols, synthesized speech, dedicated communication aids or microcomputers.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 assures full civil rights of people with disabilities. The ADA guarantees equal opportunity for people with disabilities in employment, public accommodations, transportation, state and local government services and telecommunications.

appeal. A process that takes place after a request or application is denied. Additional information is supplied to the funding agency so that it may reconsider the request.

assistive technology (AT). A generic term including assistive, adaptive and rehabilitative devices and the process used in selecting, locating and using them. Assistive technologies include:

  • Mechanical, electronic, and microprocessor based equipment. This includes microcomputers, electronic communication devices and other sophisticated devices.
  • Nonmechanical and nonelectronic aids. For example, a ramp to replace steps would fit in this category.
  • Specialized instructional materials, services and strategies. Large print for persons with visual impairments is one example of specialized instructional material.

assistive technology device. 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 functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.

assistive technology services. Any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an AT device. These include evaluation and assessment, acquisition and/or purchase, coordination with existing services, training and technical assistance for an individual with a disability and/or the family, and training or technical assistance for service providers and employers who are substantially involved with the individual.

Braille. System of embossed characters formed by using a Braille cell, a combination of six dots consisting of two vertical columns of three dots each. Each simple Braille character is formed by one or more of these dots and occupies a full cell or space. Some Braille may use eight dots.

coding system. A process or system of assigning codes, abbreviations or labels to represent a letter, item or message. The system can be arbitrarily or systematically applied. For example, the code 456 may represent “Turn on the TV,” or a picture of a drinking glass may signify, “I want a drink of water.” Commonly used coding systems include Morse code, abbreviation/expansion and semantic compaction.

compensatory tools. Adaptive computing systems that allow people with disabilities to use computers to complete tasks that they would have difficulty doing without a computer, e.g., reading, writing, communicating, and accessing information.

dial scan. A device that looks like a clock face without numbers and has only one hand or dial. It is usually battery operated and switch controlled. Pictures or miniature objects are placed around the perimeter of the face. Selection is made when the dial points to the desired object and the switch is pressed or released.

direct selection. Activation of a letter, picture or other item by a single action. Pressing a key on a keyboard, eye gaze selection, or use of an optical head pointer are examples of direct selection.

disability. Physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990).

durable medical equipment (DME). A piece of equipment is considered durable medical equipment if it can withstand repeated use and

  • is primarily and customarily used to service a medical or therapeutic purpose;
  • is generally not useful to a person in the absence of illness or injury; and
  • is appropriate for use in the home (this is determined by opinions of medical specialists in the fields of physical medicine and rehabilitation).

electronic information. Any digital data for use with computers or computer networks including disks, CD-ROMs, or World Wide Web (WWW) resources.

encoding. A selection technique used to specify items from an individual’s vocabulary. For example, an individual may select DW on a communication device to say, “I want a drink of water.”

environmental adaptations. Modifications or changes made to an individual’s environment (e.g., home, work, school, community) to assist in living independently. These modifications include ramps, widening of doorways, modifying bathrooms, special furniture, other additions of equipment, etc.

environmental control unit (ECU). A system that enables individuals to control various devices in their environment with single or multiple switches. The control unit may be mounted on a wheelchair for ease of access. Target devices include lights, door openers, televisions and telephones.

equipment fabrication. The design and construction of a device or piece of equipment that improves an individual’s functioning level.

equipment fitting. The process of installing, adjusting, and testing an AT device, piece of equipment, or other adaptation that will benefit an individual.

equipment modification. Changing or altering of the design and construction of an existing device or piece of equipment.

expanded keyboard. A keyboard that has keys and/or spaces between the keys larger than the standard microcomputer keyboard.

FM sound amplification system. Electronic sound amplification system consisting of three components: a microphone/transmitter, monaural FM receiver, and a combination charger/carrying case. It provides wireless FM broadcast from a speaker to a listener who has a hearing impairment.

free and appropriate public education (FAPE). The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires state and local education agencies that accept federal funds to provide a “free and appropriate public education,” in the least restrictive environment, for ALL children with disabilities between the ages of 3-21. Free appropriate public education means special education and related services that are provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction and without charge; meet the standards of the state education agency (i.e., the Connecticut State Department of Education); include an appropriate preschool, elementary school, or secondary school education; and are provided in conformity with an IEP that meets legal requirements (IDEA 2004, Sec. 602[9]).

hardware. Physical equipment related to computers.

headwand or headstick. A pointer or extension device that is mounted to a headpiece and extends from the center of the forehead and angles downward. It is usually used in direct selection of an object such as a key on a keyboard or a symbol or word on a board. It is for use by persons with good head control and limited upper and lower body movement.

hearing impairments. Complete or partial loss of ability to hear caused by a variety of injuries or diseases, including congenital defects.

icon. A graphic used to represent a concept or idea. Icons can appear on the computer screen or in print format. For example, a pencil may represent a word processing program.

inclusion and integration. Use of the same community resources available to others. Contact and interactions with citizens without disabilities including physically, socially, academically or vocationally, and societally.

independence. The extent to which a person with a disability can exert control and choice over his or her own life.

individualized education program (IEP). A plan used to document appropriate and individualized education. The IEP puts in writing the child’s current level of functioning, annual goals, short-term objectives and support and/or related services needed to achieve these goals and objectives (including the need for AT devices and services).

individualized plan for employment (IPE). A written plan developed by a consumer and a vocational rehabilitation counselor to outline all the services needed to find employment and an appropriate career of the consumer’s choice.

input device. A method of activating or sending information to a computer or other electronic device. Keyboards, mice and trackballs are common computer input devices.

interdisciplinary team. Individuals involved in assessment and recommendations for people with disabilities. The team consists of people from a wide variety of disciplines including, but not limited to, medical experts, educators, speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, rehabilitation engineers, care providers, psychologists, counselors, and social workers.

interpreter. Professional who assists a deaf person in communicating with hearing people.

jack. A jack is used to complete an electrical connection. A plug is inserted into a jack to connect switches to electronic devices.

joystick. A manual device with a moveable control lever that can be tilted in various directions to control a computer, wheelchair or other target system.

keyboard emulation. A method of having an alternate device and/or software, such as a switch-based system, serve the role of a keyboard.

keyguard. A cover, usually made of plastic or Plexiglas, which fits directly over the computer’s keyboard. Holes in the cover correspond to each key on the keyboard and guide a finger, headstick or mouthstick to facilitate direct key presses. Locking devices that allow keys to operate similarly to a caps lock key are available for keys frequently used in multiple key sequences, such as the shift key, function or command keys.

large print books. Most ordinary print is six to 10 points in height (about 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch). Large type is 14 to 18 points (about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch) and sometimes larger. The format of large print books is also proportionately larger (usually 8 1/2 x 11 inches).

mainstreaming/inclusion. The inclusion of people with disabilities, with or without special accommodations, in programs, activities, and facilities with their nondisabled peers.

major life activities. Functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working and participating in community activities (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990).

medically necessary. Items that are needed by the consumer for medical reasons. A doctor or other appropriate medical professionals need to order these items. Medical necessity is a judgment made by the individual doctor or medical professional.

membrane keyboard. A flat, usually programmable, keyboard with numerous pressure sensitive switches located under a soft surface. After areas of the keyboard have been defined, the user activates them by pressing on the surface.

miniature keyboard. Although smaller than the standard keyboard, a miniature keyboard contains all of the keys and functions. It is useful to people with limited range of motion and one-handed typists.

mobility impairment. Disability that affects movement ranging from gross motor skills such as walking to fine motor movement involving manipulation of objects by hand.

moisture guard. A soft plastic cover molded to the shape of the keyboard and placed on the keyboard to protect it from moisture.

mouse. An input device connected to a computer that controls the position of the cursor on the screen. The mouse fits into the user’s hand and has a ball encompassed on the underside that is rolled across a flat surface to move the cursor in the same direction as the mouse.

mouse emulator. A device that imitates the function of a mouse. In some instances, software may be used to alter the function of a keyboard to serve as a mouse emulator.

mouthstick. A pointer or extension device that extends downward and is held in the mouth between the teeth. It is used in direct selection of keys on a keyboard or a picture symbol or word on a communication board. It is for use by persons with good head control who have very limited use of their upper body (arms and hands). If the pointer extends from the chin, it is referred to as a chinwand or chinstick.

nontransparent access. A method of accessing a computer-based device that requires specialized software to allow it to interface with the computer.

occupational therapist (OT). Occupational therapists (OT) help people with both physical and emotional problems. The term “occupation” used in the context of this profession refers to any activity with which persons occupy their time. Occupational therapists focus on helping people master the everyday activities of life and work.

optical character recognition (OCR). Technology system that scans and converts printed materials into electronic text.

orthotics. The selection, fabrication and fitting of devices used to protect, support, or improve the function of parts of the body. Any device of this type is called an orthosis or an orthotic device (plural:orthoses).

peripheral. Any number of devices connected to a computer to provide input, output, or other functions. Printers, modems, switches, voice synthesizers, and internal memory cards are considered peripherals.

physical/mental impairment. Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genitourinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990).

physical therapist (PT). Physical therapists (PT) are health care professionals who evaluate and treat people with health problems resulting from injury or disease.

plug. Used in electrical connections, a plug is inserted into a jack to connect switches to electronic devices.

position (seated). The optimal seated position in a wheelchair places the individual’s hips, knees and feet at 90-degree angles. The individual should feel secure, comfortable and relaxed.

prior approval. A written agreement that ensures payment of a device. The funding source (agency) should determine eligibility for prior approval before the purchase of the device.

prosthetics. The selection, fabrication and fitting of devices (artificial limbs) used to replace the function of parts of the body that move (i.e., arms, hands, legs, and feet). Any device of this type is called a prosthesis or a prosthetic device (plural:prostheses).

qualified individual with a disability. An individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable modification to rules, policies, or practices, the removal of architectural, communication, or transportation barriers, or the provision of auxiliary aids and services, meets the essential eligibility requirements for the receipt of services or the participation in programs or activities provided by a public entity (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990).

reasonable accommodation. According to the ADA, a reasonable accommodation is a change in the work environment or the manner in which work is performed that allows an individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of his or her job.

re-definable keyboard. A keyboard that is defined according to individual users’ needs. Keys may be rearranged on the keyboard, or redefined to represent frequently used words, phrases or computer commands.

rehabilitative device. Rehabilitate means to train. Rehabilitative devices are used for testing, exercising and training. For example, a balance beam is a rehabilitative device used to improve coordination.

scanning. A selection technique that presents groups of items to the user. The user then signals with a switch press, gesture or other means when the desired item is being indicated. The scanning may be performed automatically by an electronic system or manually by the communication partner.

screen enlargement. Hardware and/or software that increases the size of characters and text on a computer screen.

screen reader. Software used to echo text on a computer screen to audio output, often used by people who are blind, with visual impairments, or with learning disabilities.

selection technique. The means by which the user acquires or gets to and selects items, which will be sent to a device.

sensory impairment. A disability that affects touch, sight, and/or hearing.

sign language. Manual communication commonly used by the deaf. The gestures or symbols in sign language are organized in a linguistic way. Each individual gesture is called a sign. Each sign has three distinct parts; the hand shape, the position of the hands, and the movement of the hands. American Sign Language (ASL) is the most commonly used sign language in the United States. Deaf people from different counties speak different sign languages.

sip and puff switch. A dual switch that is activated by sipping or puffing on an apparatus resembling a drinking straw.

specific learning disability. Disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in difficulties listening, thinking, speaking, reading, writing, spelling, or doing mathematical calculations. Frequent limitations include hyperactivity, distractibility, emotional instability, visual and/or auditory perception difficulties and/or motor limitations, depending on the types of learning disability.

speech digitizer. A device that allows digitally recorded speech to be analyzed and converted into electronic patterns that can be stored on a computer. Digitized speech may vary in quality from poor to human sounding, depending on the sampling frequency and audio playback system.

speech impairment. Problems in communication and related areas such as oral motor functioning, ranging from simple sound substitutions to the inability to understand or use language or use the oral-motor mechanism for functional speech.

speech input/recognition. A method of controlling a computer and creating text by dictation. Speech input software is combined with a microphone.

speech language pathologist (SLP). Professionals that provide treatment of speech defects and disorders, especially through use of exercises and audio-visual aids that develop new speech habits.

speech synthesizer. An electronic device that converts text characters into artificial speech. Speech synthesizers most frequently use pronunciation rules for translating text to speech. The quality of synthetic speech ranges from close to lifelike to robotic sounding speech found in lower end speech synthesizers.

switch. An input device used to control assistive devices and computers. There are a variety of types of switches, including pressure switches, pneumatic switches, and voice activated switches. These switches can control adapted toys, environmental control devices, communication devices, and a wide range of computers.

telecommunication device for the deaf (TDD). A TDD allows a person to transmit typed messages over the phone lines to another person with a TDD. Most TDDs include a keyboard for typing messages to send and a display and/or printer to receive messages.

touch screen. An input device, which allows access to a computer by directly touching the screen.

trackball. An input device that contains a visible sphere, mounted in a stationary container. It functions similarly to a mouse; however, the sphere is rotated with the fingers to move the cursor to any position on the screen.

transparent access. A method of using an alternative access system with a computer based device, such that the computer does not detect that the individual is using alternate input.

traumatic brain injury (TBI). Open and closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, including cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. The term does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital, degenerative or induced by birth trauma.

universal design. Designing programs, services, tools, and facilities so that they are usable, without modification, by the widest range of users’ possible, taking into account a variety of abilities and disabilities.

Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Act prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability that applies to any program that receives federal financial support. Section 504 of the Act is aimed at making educational programs and facilities accessible to all students. Section 508 of the Act requires that electronic office equipment purchased through federal procurement meets disability access guidelines.

voice recognition system. An access system designed to replace the standard keyboard as the method of input. The system is “trained” to recognize utterances that are spoken into a microphone. The utterances are translated into computer commands or sequences of alphanumeric characters and used to operate the computer and software.

vision impairments. Complete or partial loss of ability to see, caused by a variety of injuries or diseases, including congenital defects. Legal blindness is defined as visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting lenses, or widest diameter of visual field subtending an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees.

word prediction. Software that reduces the number of keystrokes needed to type words and sentences. As characters are entered on either a standard, alternative or virtual keyboard, suggested completions of the word that has been started are provided to the user.