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A.T.TIPSCAST Episode #129: Redefining “Assistive Technology Device”

Download the audio directly – Episode 129: Redefining “Assistive Technology Device”

This episode of the A.T.TIPSCAST is sponsored by Texthelp, provider of the award-winning Read&Write software solutions. Click on the banner below to learn about the amazing Read&Write products.

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Episode Overview-

Episode #129 features a reading of the blog post below which outlines challenges with the current definition of an assistive technology device and proposes a new way to define the term. I didn’t want to wait to record the audio to get these ideas across so the text below came out one day before the audio was posted.

Redefining “Assistive Technology Device”

by Christopher Bugaj

There is a problem with the definition of an assistive technology device. I am, someone who hosts a podcast, has co-written a book, authored an app, has a job title, and works in a profession which all use the common term “assistive technology” in the title, and yet I wonder if we either need to eliminate the term or, at least, redefine it.

Let’s start by quoting the definition of an “assistive technology device” as it stands with regards to education.

An “assistive technology device” is defined by education law as “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.”

Let’s focus on the verb. I believe the verb is the crux of the problem with the definition. The verb in question is “used”.

Let’s put that into play with a made up example juxtaposing two students; one with a disability and one without. For the purposes of the example, I’m going to use a made up piece of technology and a generic task, because the tools and task don’t matter. It doesn’t matter whether the tool is high tech or low tech in relation to the definition.

Here’s the example:

“A student without a disability uses a flibbertyjibbet to learn math”. – We call the flibbertyjibbet “technology”.

“A student with a disability uses a flibbertyjibbet to learn math”. – We call the flibbertyjibbet “assistive technology”.

Both students are using the flibbertyjibbet to increase, maintain, or improve his or her functional math capabilities. The only difference between the two is that one has a disability and the other does not.

When used in this way, the term “assistive technology” spotlights the disability and is ultimately discriminatory.

Now, how about a real example, with a real piece of technology (just in case I lost you with the flibberyjibbet)?

“A student without a disability uses a keyboard to author his essay.” – We call the keyboard “technology”.

“A student with a disability uses a keyboard to author his essay.” – We call the keyboard “assistive technology”.

The only difference between the two students using the device, whatever that device might be, is that the student with the disability might require the device to complete the task where the student without the disability might not require it.

That is, a student with a disability might NEED the keyboard to author the essay where the student without the disability might only prefer to use the keyboard to author the essay despite having the ability to complete the task in other ways.

The need to use a tool is the difference.

So, what do we do to fix this problem with the definition?

I think there are two potential solutions.

Option 1 - Abandon the use of the term “assistive technology” and just call it “technology”. I tweeted a similiar message on Super Bowl Sunday of 2014 immediately after the Microsoft #empowering video aired.

Screenshot of tweet by Chris Bugaj on February 2nd that reads "It's time to lose the adjective "Assistive" before the word "Technology". It's just technology. #empowering Thank You Microsoft!"

You can watch the ad at http://bit.ly/msempoweringvideo. The point of the ad, besides selling Microsoft products, was to demonstrate how technology can be used to empower individuals, whether you have a disability or not.

The option to eliminate the term “assistive technology” would be hard pressed and wrought with pitfalls. I’m not saying it would be impossible, especially if everyone agreed this was the correct thing to do in the long run, but entire organizations, institutions, careers, professions, and college programs have been built around the term. It is an established “thing” and “things” are hard (not impossible) to change. Myriad questions about funding sources arise as well, as pointed out by some colleagues with whom I correspond via social media. If the term is too well established to be abolished, what else can be done?

That brings us to Option 2.

Option 2 - Redefine “assistive technology device” to use the verb “requires” or “needs”. What if the definition of an assistive technology device read “Any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is required to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities.”?

Wouldn’t that be a better definition?

Using this definition, any item used by a student, whether they have a disability or not, would just be considered “technology”. Any item necessary to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of the student would be considered “assistive technology”.

Are there repercussions I’m not thinking of when proposing the change in the verb in the definition from “used” to “requires” or “needs”?

At the very least the definition should be changed because the nouns “technology” and “device” are synonyms, making the term “Assistive Technology Device” redundant, right? :)

What are your thoughts? I’d love to read them publicly in the comments below or you can e-mail me privately at attipscast@gmail.com.

A.T.TIPS in this Episode -

A.T.TIP #417 – Redefining “Assistive Technology Device” swapping the verb “used” for the verb “required”.

Upcoming Presentations -

ISTE SIGML Second Life and TweetChat -

Mobilize your Productivity with iOS7 Accessibility Options – Tips and Tricks for All! -March 24th with Mark Nichols

8:00pm – 9:00pm ET Second Life Presentation, 9:00pm – 10pm ET Tweetchat

ATIA Webinars

Low Cost Ways to Provide More Options To Help Students with Reading and Writing - 3:30pm – 4:30pm ET on November 12th, 2014. Webinar for the Assistive Technology Industry Association

Getting Your AT Party Started: Answers to Commonly Asked Questions About Program Building with Sally Norton-Darr – 3:30pm – 5:00pm ET on December 11th, 2014. Webinar for the Assistive Technology Industry Association

Contact Information-

Follow me on Twitter

Send an e-mail to attipscast@gmail.com

Register as a fan of the show to receive e-mail alerts for new episodes

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A.T.TIPSCAST Episode #107: Read and Write for Google Docs

Download the audio directly- Episode #107: Read & Write for Google Docs

Episode Overview-

Episode #107 features a brief discussion of the tools and uses of Read & Write for Google Docs in the Chrome browser created by Texthelp.  

This episode also features a bumper from Andrew Hess from the Mamaroneck Union Free School District in New York. Check out the awesome Tip-A-Day strategies!

A.T.TIPS in this Episode -

A.T.TIP 306 – Read & Write for Google Docs by Texthelp

Upcoming Presentations -

REGISTER NOW!

Mission Possible: Proliferating a Culture of Universal Design for Learning with Beth Poss & Chris Bugaj. January 29th & 30th, 2013 at the Assistive Technology Industry Association Conference in Orlando, Florida.

LIVE Webinar: DigitALL Stories – Tools for Storytelling in the 21st Century (Webinar Code: AT13-WEB03-LB) with Beth Poss.  Thursday, February 07, 2013 at 3:30-5:00 PM ET Webinar Fee:  $49.00 for the Assistive Technology Industry Association.

Contact Information-

About.me/chrisbugaj

Twitter.com/attipscast

attipscast@gmail.com

Register as a fan of the show to receive e-mail alerts for new episodes

A.T.TIPSCAST Episode 104: It’s Alive!

Black and white pic of Chris dressed in a lab coat with gloves on his hands and goggles on his forehead looking crazed as he gazes off into the sky. He is surrounded by lightning and there is text in the foreground in a creepy font that reads "A.T.TIPSCAST Episode 104: It's Alive".Download the audio directly – Episode #104: It’s Alive

Episode Overview-

This episode of the A.T.TIPSCAST features a recording of the events that transpired in the attic of the Bugaj household on a stormy night in October 2012 which involves electricity, a tablet computer, some spare parts, and (of course) some strategies that can help students.

A.T.TIPS in this Episode-

A.T.TIP 294 – Online, Virtual Techknowledgy Conference – http://bit.ly/vafreetraining

A.T.TIP 295 – Mindmeister for iPad graphic organizer app for iOS

Night Light Stories outlined on MindMeister

Example of a MindMap created using MindMeister

A.T.TIP 296 – High Contrast Feature of iOS

A.T.TIP 297 – Communication Lanyard for Receptive Purposes

A.T.TIP 298 – Sentence Starter/Carrier Phrase Strips – Examples from jgitchelself on BoardmakerShare.com

Upcoming Presentations-

REGISTER NOW!

Mission Possible: Proliferating a Culture of Universal Design for Learning with Beth Poss & Chris Bugaj. January 29th & 30th, 2013 at the Assistive Technology Industry Association Conference in Orlando, Florida.

kidshalloweenwithtextContact Information-

About.me/chrisbugaj

Twitter.com/attipscast

attipscast@gmail.com

Register as a fan of the show to receive e-mail alerts for new episodes

A Frankenstein's Monster head to the left of text that reads "A.T.TIPSCAST Episode 104: It's Alive!"

A.T.TIPSCAST Episode #103: Introducing ATEval2Go

ATEval2Go logoDownload the audio directly – Episode #103: Introducing ATEval2Go

Episode Overview-

Episode #103 of the A.T.TIPSCAST describes ATEval2Go; an iPad app designed to help professionals conduct assistive technology consultations and evaluations.

A.T.TIPS in this Episode-

A.T.TIP 291 – ATEval2Go by Smarty Ears

Watch this short trailer describing the app:

Watch this longer (about 20 minutes) tutorial describing the app:

A.T.TIP 292 – GeekSLP.com by Barbara Fernandez

A.T.TIP 293 – SpeechTechie.com by Sean Sweeney

Upcoming Presentations-

REGISTER NOW!

Mission Possible: Proliferating a Culture of Universal Design for Learning with Beth Poss & Chris Bugaj. January 29th & 30th, 2013 at the Assistive Technology Industry Association Conference in Orlando, Florida.

Contact Information-

About.me/chrisbugaj

Twitter.com/attipscast

attipscast@gmail.com

Register as a fan of the show to receive e-mail alerts for new episodes

Marketing for “The Practical (and Fun) Guide to Assistive Technology in Public Schools”

Hello everyone,

No new podcast episode with this post but I do have some book related news.  The Practical (and Fun) Guide to Assistive Technology in Public Schools comes out in April 2010.  You can pre-order your copy now from www.iste.org/chewat.  Over the next few weeks there will be much more information coming out about the book, the content within, and ways you can help spread the word to other educators about the book.  Here is just a taste of what is coming down the pike, not necessarily in this order:

1. Table of Contents

2.  Book Excerpt – Chapter 6: Choosing Assistive Technology Teammates (.PDF version)

3.  Book Excerpt – Chapter 6: Choosing Assistive Technology Teammates (.mp3 version)

4. “Practical” Video Trailer

5. “Fun” Video Trailer

6. Bookmarks for Bloggers —>Download the Complete Set of Bookmarks!

and more!

In order to get the word out about the book, it is our hope that you will spread these files around, sharing them with other educators who might be interested in the content.  Feel free to send them out via e-mail, post to your favorite social networking site (like Facebook or Twitter), tell people about them on listservs, have discussions on forums, and  print out paper versions to give other educators!

Thanks in advance and I hope you enjoy the experience of reading the book as well as helping it become a success!

The Book – http://iste.org/chewat
The Book’s Facebook Fan Page – http://bit.ly/atbookfb
Twitter – http://twitter.com/attipscast

Cover for The Practical (and Fun) Guide to Assistive Technology in Public Schools

The Practical (and Fun) Guide to Assistive Technology in Public Schools

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