Assistive technology has widespread acceptance as a support strategy within international, national and state initiatives. In the education context, research recognises the potential of assistive technology to support access to learning, engagement and achievement for a range of students with diverse learning needs.
Assistive technology in education is any hardware, software or system of technical components and processes that enhances the capacity for all students to engage more effectively with the curriculum and their learning environment. This can range from "high tech" technology, such as electronic devices or power wheelchairs, to "low tech" devices such as a pencil grip, supportive seat or a simple switch.
Assistive technology can support teachers to provide teaching and learning that is accessible to all students. Assistive technology supports students with diverse learning needs within an inclusive learning environment by:
Schools use a range of assistive technologies based on individual learner needs. Options may include:
Assistive technology enables people to live healthy, productive, independent, and dignified lives, and to participate in education, the labour market and civic life. Assistive technology is an umbrella term covering the systems and services related to the delivery of assistive products and services. Assistive products maintain or improve an individual's functioning and independence, thereby promoting their well-being. Hearing aids, wheelchairs, communication aids, spectacles, prostheses and memory aids are all examples of assistive products. (World Health Organisation, 2016 )
In schools, specialised equipment is one form of assistive technology which is available to reduce or remove the barriers to curriculum access. Schools may provide specialised equipment for students with disability to support them to access their education program if recommended by a qualified professional. This equipment is retained as a school resource and can include:
The education team may recommend specialised equipment that could help a student participate in school. Specialist staff may also assist to assess a student's needs, trial and recommend specialised equipment.
If parents or carers have requirements regarding specialised equipment to support their child in their education program, it is recommended that they contact the Principal of the school or the Principal Education Officer Student Services (PEO SS) in their local regional office. This ensures a collaborative approach to support the individual learning needs of students.