Guide to Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology:
Basic Information You Need to Know to Help Children with Disabilities
A Resource Guide Compiled by:
Courtney Noblett
Acting Director, Assistive Technology
Central Coast Children’s Foundation, Inc.
1 Surf Way, Suite 237
Monterey CA 93940

The Family Center (FCTD) is a resource designed to support organizations and programs that work with families of children and youth with disabilities. They offer a range of information and services on the subject of assistive technologies. Whether you’re an organization, a parent, an educator, or an interested friend, you’ll find information on their website and in their documents that supports you in your efforts to bring the highest quality education to children with disabilities.

The Center’s goal is to strengthen the ability of organizations throughout the country to provide current, accurate, and useful materials to the families of children with disabilities.
The Family Center is administered by the Academy for Educational Development in partnership with the Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights, the Alliance for Technology ‘Access, InfoUse, and the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access. The Family Center is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).

Family Center Knowledge Network
The Family Center Knowledge Network is comprised of more than 2,000 organizations that share a concern for the families of children with disabilities. Network members are committed to providing useful information and resources to help children fulfill their potential. The Family Center strives to make sure Network members receive the most current information on developments in the field of assistive technology.
What types of organizations belong to the Family Center Network?
• Parent support and advocacy groups
• Disability-specific associations
• State and local government agencies
• Foundations that support disabilities research and programs
• National advocacy organizations
• University-based programs
Member organizations do not pay dues or contribute financially to the operation of the Center and any organization is free to join.
Copyright 2009, Central Coast Children’s Foundation, Inc.
Family Center on Technology and Disability
Available Web Resources

The Family Center produces and distributes a range of informational resources on the subject of assistive technology. All materials are accessible by visiting their website. Many of the resources are also available in Spanish.
Among the resources provided by the Family Center online are the following:

•    AT Family Guide – The Family Information Guide to Assistive Technology is a 54-page guide which includes an introduction to assistive technology; a discussion of AT in schools, including the IEP process, due process and relevant laws; a section on AT funding; an illustrated glossary; and annotated resources. The guide is available online, in both html and pdf versions, and can be ordered using the attached form.

•    FCTD Resource Reviews – A fully searchable database of more than 600 abstracts of books, articles, videos, training manuals, software, and websites concerning AT. These resources are reviewed and evaluated by the Family Center’s AT Specialists.

•    Member Organizations – A fully searchable database of information on approximately 2,000 disability-related organizations throughout the United States, U.S. territories, and the world. A brief organizational description and contact information is included.

•    Monthly Newsletters – Monthly thematic newsletters on AT topics, including IEPs, mediation, socialization, inclusion, and in-depth interviews with nationally-recognized experts, are available. Both current and archived issues of News & Notes are available.

•    Online Discussions- Month-long online discussions of AT topics, moderated by national experts. Digests and transcripts from past discussions are available in the archive.

•    AT Fact Sheets – Each 2-3 pages long and cover various AT topics, including the IEP and Assistive Technology Laws. The Family Center’s Illustrated AT Glossary is also available here.

•    AT Success Stories – Inspiring stories about students with a range of disabilities and ages who have experienced various successes and achievements because of their use of AT.

•    Links to Useful Sites – 28 categories of links to information and resources including disability research and statistics, housing, funding, and employment.

The AT web resources are also available by ordering the free Family Center’s 2007 Assistive Technology Resources CD-Rom. This CD-Rom spans the full range of AT topics, including assessment, evaluation, the IEP process, funding, universal design, inclusion, and more. The CD-Rom is available, free of charge, by using the attached order form.
Links to Fact Sheet example
Link to Newsletter example for inclusion
Link to Spanish Resource:
Insert Order Form.
In English:

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is any method that assists a person with severe or expressive communication disorders to communicate. AAC utilizes the individual’s body as well as assistive technology in order to facilitate this communication.   Examples of AAC include sign language, gesture systems, facial expressions, communication devices, and symbols. Generally, four main kinds of symbols in AAC are used: spoken words, written words, signs, and graphic symbols. The methods of AAC will vary to meet the needs of the individual.
The AAC process generally includes a method to represent symbols (objects, words or drawings), a method to select symbols (point directly or use a scanning device such as a head pointer), and a method to transmit the message (either visually or orally). Teaching the meaning of the graphic symbols used on a communication display to individuals supporting the person utilizing AAC is one of they most overlooked keys to AAC success.

Many forms of AAC have an assistive technology component to enhance the individual’s communication and interaction with their surroundings. This can include an electronic communication device, AAC software and hardware. The complexity of the technology will vary for each individual.
Prior to Considering AAC:
1. What are the individual’s cognitive abilities?
2. What are the individual’s physical abilities?
3. What is the most important vocabulary relevant to the individual?
4. Consider the individual’s motivation to use ACC and select the ACC system best suited.
5. Always enlist the expert help of professionals to help with the decision.

Augmentative Communication, Inc

Augmentative Communication Inc. (ACI) provides information and services that are relevant to the AAC community. They publish resources that help keep busy professionals and individuals with complex communication needs up-to-date on important developments in AAC. The website includes:
•    Articles and links to funding information and resources for speech generating devices
•    Links to additional AAC organizations, device vendors, and related product vendors
•    Sample issues and ordering information for their two main publications:
Augmentative Communication News – Published quarterly, this newsletter provides up-to-date information on ACC and is organized into nine sections that focus on consumers, equipment, government, research, case studies, etc.

Alternatively Speaking – This international, consumer-written and consumer-edited publication in the field of ACC is an 8-page presentation of AAC issues from a consumer perspective, published three times a year. It includes an in-depth report in each issue on a topic vital to the AAC community. Augmentative Communication Inc.

AAC Institute

The AAC Institute, established in 2000, is a resource for all who are interested in enhancing the communication of people who rely on AAC (augmentative and alternative communication). A not-for-profit charitable organization, the AAC Institute offers information and provides services worldwide.

AAC Intervention

The purpose of their work is to encourage functional communication within an activity-based framework.

International Society of Augmentative and Alternative Communication

ISAAC The International Society for AAC works to improve the life of every child and adult with speech difficulties. ISAAC started in 1983 and has thousands of members in 50 countries with chapters in 14 countries.

False Beliefs, Widely Held: The Myths That Professionals Perpetuate and the Harm They Do To Young Children With Disabilities. Harvey Pressman discusses myths about the appropriateness of AAC with infants and young children. This article provides an overview of some of the myths that have hampered the inclusion of AAC into early intervention service delivery and refutes them. It also examines some of the realities that must be considered when delivering AAC services and supports to young children.

A matrix of Internet resources on augmentative communication, featuring web links and small bits of information on organizations. The matrix is a PDF file and features websites from the US as well as Australia, Scotland and England.

Assistive Technology for people with a disability who find operating a computer difficult, maybe even impossible. This web site will direct you to adaptive equipment and alternative methods available for accessing computers

Talking Photo Album and & AAC Idea Book

The Talking Photo Album is a simple, inexpensive, easy-to-use device that has many potential uses for adults and children who need augmentative communication. The companion AAC Idea Book: Creative Ways to Use Talking Photo Albums by Sarah W. Blackstone and Harvey Pressman contains 21 ideas contributed by 14 AAC experts that you can use to get started. Ideas include: Talking Job Sequence, That was the Day/Week That Was, Social Scripts: Beyond a Single Turn, Talking Book, How to Assist with Daily Tasks, Oral Test Taking, and Activity Book.

AAC: A Way of Thinking (2003)
A presentation providing an overview of AAC technology options for students. It includes considerations for assessment, planning, implementation and transition for students with AAC needs. Participants will learn key elements of the AAC process, considerations for matching AAC technologies to student, inclusive strategies for communication in the classroom, and main features of different types of AAC technologies.

Webcasts – This webcast is divided into 3 sections:
•    Part 1: AAC Planning – Highband, Lowband or Audio Only (Colette Massie – 31 min)
•    Part 2: AAC Intervention – Highband, Lowband or Audio Only (Karen Neill – 45 min)
•    Part 3: AAC Devices – Highband, Lowband or Audio Only (Lois Turner – 13 min)

Related Materials – During the web casts, our presenters mention the following print documents and software demonstrations which provide valuable information and examples.
•    AAC: A Way of Thinking Guide (2003) – Download PDF (1.5 Mb)
•    Using Routines and Choice Making: A Day in the Life of a Classroom (Excerpt from AAC Guide) – Download PDF (280 Kb)
•    AAC Technology Product Information (Excerpt of AAC Guide) -Download PDF (3MB)
•    AAC Feature Comparison Grid: High-End Devices – Download PDF (60 Kb)
•    AAC References and Resources (Excerpt from AAC Guide) – Download PDF (204 Kb)
•    AAC Feature Comparison Grid: Low-End Devices – Download PDF (60 Kb)
•    Dynamic Display Demonstration – View Demo (1:56 min)
•    Icon Sequencing Demonstration – View Demo (2:13 min)

AAC Web casts

The AAC-RERC sponsors web casts on various AAC and communication topics, including:
•    Supporting successful transition for individuals who use AAC
(David McNaughton)
•    AAC Interventions to Maximize Language Development for Young Children
(Janice Light)
•    AAC and Aphasia: A Review of Visual Scenes Display Project
(David Beukelman)
•    How far we’ve come, how far we’ve got to go: tales from the trenches
(Michael B. Williams)
The webcasts are best viewed in Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 and higher. If you have problems connecting to or viewing the video, please go to this support site faq:
How to Fund Augmentative Communication Devices Through Private Medical Insurance
Lewis Golinker, 90 minutes
This webcast discussed how you can obtain coverage and funding for AAC devices in the US from the most common types of medical insurance policies.

An Overview of the Health-based Funding Programs the Cover SGDs
(Lew Golinker)

Social Networks Inventory
Sarah W. Blackstone, PhD, 3/27/03, 60 minutes
This webcast will describe a communication inventory that is designed to collect the type of information all too frequently missing from our efforts to support people with complex communication needs. It recognizes the central role people who rely on AAC and their primary communication partners play in successful AAC interventions and helps clarify distinctions among an individual’s communication partners, the contexts within communication occurs, the methods of communication people use and socio-cultural factors that influence intervention. The presentation will include two case examples and a brief description of pilot data. Download the slide presentation.

Individualized Education Programs
Every student with a disability is entitled to “a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment appropriate to their individual needs” under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This law requires public schools to develop appropriate Individualized Education Programs (IEP) for each student in order to determine a student’s needs and ensure those needs are met. The IEP is a written plan for educating a child with a disability and is developed by a student’s team, which includes the special education teacher, the regular education teacher, parents, and often the student. Services listed in the IEP are provided by the school at no cost to the parents.

The IEP process is the means for providing assistive technology students may need to receive an appropriate education. The IEP team determines the assistive technology needs of the child through an assessment process that considers the child’s strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, and identifies strategies which are helpful in interacting with the child. If the IEP team isn’t sure about the child’s need for assistive technology or feels that they do not have the necessary knowledge to make a decision, then they need to bring in a consultant to help them or refer the child for an AT assessment.

The Education for the Handicapped Act (EHA) was reauthorized in 1990 as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which now specifically addresses the inclusion of assistive technology in the IEP. The regulations stipulate the following:
1) The need for assistive technology must be addressed on every IEP;
2) Assistive technology can be special education or a related service;
3) Assistive technology can also be a form of supplementary aid or service utilized to facilitate a student’s education in a regular education environment;
4) If participants on the IEP team determine that a student requires assistive technology in order to receive a free and appropriate public education and designate assistive technology as either special education or related service, then the services must be provided at no cost to the parents.

Many school districts have written procedures that include assistive technology and outline specific steps to follow to obtain it for a student with disabilities. Parents continue to be the child’s most effective advocate, and must advocate strongly for assistive technology in the child’s IEP to ensure they have every opportunity to reach their full potential.

Parents Right to Include Assistive Technology in the IEP

•    Parents have the right to request assistive technology services in the student’s IEP.

•    IEP’s must list all special education (specially designed instruction) and related services (services that are necessary for the student to benefit from special education), including assistive technology, which are required for the student in one instructional year.

•    IEP’s MUST be individually designed to meet the needs of the student and not to fit into pre-existing programs or services for the sake of administrative convenience.

•    The lack of available existing services or sufficient funds CANNOT be used by school personnel as a reason to deny AT services or to eliminate a needed service from the IEP.

•    All special education and related services needed to implement the IEP goals and objectives MUST be listed in the IEP, even if they are not available in the local school.

•    Evaluation results are the key to what is included in the IEP; therefore, it is critical that they accurately reflect how assistive technology will meet the needs of the student.

•    The IEP team may, at the discretion of the parents or agency, include other individuals who have knowledge or expertise regarding the student and beneficial AT services.

•    The IEP is a written commitment on the part of the school to provide specified services. Parents are entitled to receive a copy of the finished document.

•    Section 300.308 has been amended to clarify that on a case by case basis, the use of school-purchased assistive technology devices in a student’s home or in other settings is required if the student’s IEP team determines that the student needs access to those devices in order to receive a free and appropriate education.

•    Parents have the right to disagree with the school’s decisions concerning AT.

The Appeals Process
Public education agencies are required by the amendments to ensure that procedures are established and implemented to allow parties to resolve disputes through a mediation process. The mediation process must be voluntary on the part of the parties and conducted by a qualified and impartial mediator. The State must maintain a list of individuals who are qualified mediators and knowledgeable in laws and regulations relating to the provision of special education and must bear the cost of the mediation process. Provisions are also added to ensure that discussions that occur during the mediation must be confidential. At any point, parents may choose to request a due process hearing or bring a civil action suit against the school in courts. Parents can seek assistance and advice with their appeals from Protection and Advocacy at 1-800-372-2988 (Voice/TTD).

Web Resources

IEP and Assistive Technology

QIAT Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology

Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology Services in School Settings.   This site offers indicators for schools to follow in providing, choosing, integrating, and determining compliance related to assistive technology services.  These indicators are helpful for both educators and parents during the IEP process.

Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education

State-specific information from the Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE) is available to assist parents with the IEP appeals process.

Office of Special Education Policy Clarification Letters
Letters written in response to inquires about a school district’s mandate to include AT devices in the IEP. Includes letters addressing the following questions/issues:
Can a school district presumptively deny a student assistive technology (AT)?
Should AT be considered on a case-by-case basis?
CCTV Home Use & Time Limits for IEP Implementation
School Liability for Family-Owned AT

Exceptional Student Education

ESE stands for Exceptional Student Education. The site offers newsletters, parent support, information and support for IEP’s, and links to other information.

The Assistive Technology Act

The Assistive Technology Act (ATA) of 1998, Public Law 105-394, was passed by Congress in 1998 and further amended in 2004. The ATA, also known as the “Tech Act,” replaces an earlier law known as the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988. The ATA affirms that technology is a valuable tool that can be used to improve the lives of Americans with disabilities. It also affirms the federal role of promoting access to assistive technology devices and services for individuals with disabilities.

The ATA gives grants to states for activities that will increase access to assistive technology devices and services for individuals with disabilities. The ATA requires states to improve existing programs that are expected to provide technology and services for people with disabilities. Additionally, the ATA supports states in sustaining and strengthening their capacity to address the AT needs of individuals, supports the investment in technology, and supports micro-loan program to individuals wishing to purchase AT devices or services.
When they accept federal money, states must undertake the following:
•    Promote coordination between agencies that provide AT. This may include the establishment of AT demonstration centers, information centers, equipment loan facilities, referral services, and other consumer-oriented programs.
•    Increase access to assistive technology devices and services by providing technical assistance and training, including the development and implementation of laws, regulations, policies, practices, procedures, or organizational structures to individuals and their families.
•    Raise awareness about AT and provide information related to the availability and benefits of AT devices and services, including outreach support to rural and underrepresented populations.
The Assistive Technology Act of 2004 updated the purpose of the Assistive Technology Act to reflect the priority of increasing access to needed devices for individuals with disabilities and requires states to spend the bulk of state grants on direct services for individuals with disabilities. Under the Assistive Technology Act of 2004, states are required to use a majority of federal funds to directly help individuals.
For a list of state projects funded under the Tech Act, visit

The ATA is implemented in California primarily through grant contracts. California received its first grant under the ATA’s predecessor in 1993. The designated lead agency is the Department of Rehabilitation (DR), which coordinates the state’s efforts to expand and improve access to assistive technology. The project in California is known as the California Assistive Technology System (CATS), which grants contracts to nonprofit organizations.

The CATS program has a number of projects aimed at accomplishing the ATA’s goals:
·  A free telephone network that provides information and referral about AT devices and services. (1-800-390-2699 [voice] and 1-800-900-0706 [TDD] or [e-mail]);
·  Information and materials about AT and training throughout the state;
·  Legal information about AT through Protection and Advocacy, Inc.
(1-800-776-5746 [voice] and 1-800-649-0154 [TTY]; and
·  Loan guarantee programs for purchasing AT and vehicle modification (916-263-8981 [Voice] and 916-263-7477 [TTY]).
The primary CATS contractor is the AT Network, which is a subdivision of the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers (CFILC). The AT Network’s purpose is to expand the accessibility of tools, resources and technology that will help increase independence, improve productivity and enhance of quality of life for Californians with disabilities.
As of July 2006, the Department of Rehabilitation has contracted with the Alliance for Technology Access (ATA) to serve as the statewide AT Network Hub organization.

Protection & Advocacy Inc. (PAI)

PAI is a private, nonprofit organization that protects the legal, civil, and service rights of Californians who have disabilities. PAI provides a variety of advocacy services, including information and referral, technical assistance, and direct representation. PAI also gives legal advice to consumers, their families and advocates; and makes presentations on issues relating to AT. It monitors, analyzes and comments on pending state legislation and regulations.
PAI has developed Accessing Assistive Technology, a handbook on the rights of persons with disabilities to receive AT. This manual is available by contacting PAI at 1-800-776-5746. Visiting their website and typing “Assistive Technology” into the search box generates a list of helpful publications containing information on advocacy, protection, and accessing assistive technology.

The AT Network is dedicated to expanding the accessibility of tools, resources and technology that will help increase independence, improve personal productivity and enhance the quality of life for all Californians. The AT Network provides a variety of information and referral services, as well as funding resources for AT. These resources are accessible online and include:
•    Information about AT & State Programs: Special Education, The Dept. of Veterans Affairs, The Dept of Rehabilitation, CA Regional Centers, and CA Children’s Services.
•    The Assistive Technology Journal published monthly by the AT Network and California Assistive Technology Systems
•    Funding sources and strategies for obtaining assistive devices.

Ten Critical Services Provided Free of Charge

1) Telling people with disabilities about their many legal, civil and service rights;
2) Technical assistance, training, publications and advocacy support for Californians with disabilities, their families and representatives;
3) Legislative advocacy to ensure that laws benefit Californians with disabilities;
4) Investigating complaints about serious physical and sexual abuse and neglect-related deaths in institutions;
5) Outreach to traditionally underserved ethnic and disability communities;
6) Peer self-advocacy services for people with psychiatric or developmental disabilities;
7) Patients’ rights advocacy and training for county advocates at state psychiatric hospitals
8) Rights advocacy for clients with developmental disabilities receiving services at regional centers;
9) Bringing impact litigation and acting as amicus curiae in disability-related cases; and
10) Individual representation, based on PAI’s priorities and case selection criteria.

PAI helps people with disabilities with disability-related problems, such as:
•    Rights to basic support, personal care, therapy and health care — like Supplemental Security Income (SSI), In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS), Medi-Cal, and California Children’s Services (CCS).
•    Discrimination in housing, transportation, employment, and access to public and private programs and services.
•    Abuse, neglect, and rights violations in an institution.
•    Least restrictive environment, dignity, privacy, choice, and other basic rights.
•    Special education rights.
•    Mental health and support services that provide individualized treatment.
•    Regional center eligibility and services that promote independence — such as supported living and family supports.
•    Access to technology — like communication devices and power wheelchairs.
Link to a 3 page, Protection & Advocacy, Inc “Advocacy Skills: Technology

The Alliance for Technology Access (ATA) is a network of community-based Resource Centers, Developers, Vendors, and Associates dedicated to providing information and support services to children and adults with disabilities, and increasing their use of standard, assistive, and information technologies.  The Alliance for Technology Access (ATA) seeks to redefine human potential by making technology a regular part of the lives of people with disabilities. ATA is the national network of community-based Resource Centers, Developers, Vendors, and Associates dedicated to providing information and support services to children and adults with disabilities, and increasing their use of standard, assistive, and information technologies.ATA’s interactive information service provides quick access to information on assistive technology tools and services to consumers, families, and service providers worldwide.The ATA Resource Area is a great place to research accessibility solution. Here you will find the following helpful resources:
1) Computer Resources for People with Disabilities brings together user-friendly support and information on developing an assistive technology plan and tools to help people zero in on the technologies that are most likely to match their abilities and goals. This book can be read online or a hard copy can be ordered.
2) The Access Aware: Extending your reach to People with Disabilities Manual. This is a great resource for bringing accessible solutions home to your community. It is available for online reading, or a downloadable and printable PDF file is available for purchase.
3)  No Child Left Behind: Implications for Assistive Technology. This article discusses several areas of this 2002 Act which relates to assistive technology in the education of students with disabilities.

The Family Place in Cyberspace

This initiative, funded by the Stulsaft Foundation to address the assistive technology needs of families of children with disabilities, and part of the AT Access includes the following resources:
1) Assistive Technology in K-12 Schools gives a range of information about integrating assistive technology into schools including an Overview, Classroom Use, Building District Capacity, Assessment, Resources, and Training.
2) Accessible Toys- With Toy Industry Association support, the ATA evaluated dozens of toys for accessibility to children with disabilities. See the Guide with listed recommendations and see adaptation instructions.
3) We Can Play offers over a dozen different accessible play ideas for children of all abilities in both English and Spanish (Podemos jugar!)
4) Access Transition is information and resources for students with disabilities who are facing the transition from public school to the next stage in life. Also includes links.
5) Using Technology to Enhance Early Learning Experiences (in English and Spanish) is a guide for parents on using computers and other technology to improve children’s learning.
6) Assistive Technology – What You Need to Know (in English and Spanish). A great introduction to definitions and benefits of AT. Also discusses using experts to justify AT needs and how to choose the right AT device.
7) English/Spanish Glossary of Disability Terms: The glossary is provided for the benefit of individuals with disabilities, their family members, and professionals who may need a translation of terms dealing with disability and disability services. This 68 page guide is useful for both English and Spanish speakers wishing to translate common terms.
8) Assistive Technology Acronyms and Abbreviation: Comprehensive listing of AT acronyms and abbreviations.

Link to We Can Play!

English –
Spanish –

Example of available materials:
Children of all abilities need to play! Use the links below to learn how to adapt a battery operated toy for children who can only press a single button, learn more about web resources and books about play, or download instructions for a variety of play suggestions and ideas…
Adapting battery operated toys for a switch
Links & Resources
Terms: English & Español
Here are 20 different activity ideas to use with children of all abilities.
Activities can be viewed online in either HTML or PDF format (requires Acrobat Reader 4.0 or later), or can be downloaded to disk in PDF format for viewing and printing. Individual PDF files are approximately 60KB each.
HTML Formatted
Bicycles & other wheels, Birthday Parties, Board Games, Car Travel,
Cooking, Costumes, Dance & Movement, Dolls & Stuffed Animals,
Grocery Shopping, Musical Instruments, Painting, Picnics & Parties,
Play Dough, Playgrounds, Puppets, Puzzles, Reading a Story,
Sand Play, Scrapbooks, Water Play
PDF Formatted
All activities in one file (1MB file size)
Bicycles & other wheels, Birthday Parties, Board Games, Car Travel,
Cooking, Costumes, Dance & Movement, Dolls & Stuffed Animals,
Grocery Shopping, Musical Instruments, Painting, Picnics & Parties,
Play Dough, Playgrounds, Puppets, Puzzles, Reading a Story,
Sand Play, Scrapbooks, Water Play
Parents Helping Parents

Parents Helping Parents (PHP) receives federal funding as a Parent Training and Information Center that serves families of children and young adults from birth to age 22 with all disabilities. Additionally, PHP is a Family Empowerment Center (FEC) that provides information, resources, technical assistance, and systems change advocacy for a statewide network of local FEC’s who provide family education, empowerment, and parent-professional collaborative activities for families of children with disabilities ages 3-22 years old. PHP is also the Family Resource Center for Santa Clara County’s Early Start Program.

The iTECH Center, run by PHP, is a preview and demonstration site for Assistive Technology and offers the following:
•    Guided, “hands-on” sessions in the lab
•    T.I.P (Technology for Infants and Preschoolers): Early Intervention program
•    Educational Software
•    Computer Accessibility Solutions
•    Augmentative and Alternative Communication- low/high-tech
•    Toy Adaptation- battery-operated toys adapted for use with a switch
•    Trainings/Workshops/Assessments
The Center is contacted at 408-727-5775 or

The following online resources are available from the PHP website:
Resource Directory: Provides information on thousands of community programs, government agencies and programs throughout the United States and Canada.
Special Education Letter Writer – Getting results from government agencies often involves writing professional letters. PHP’s Special Education Letter Writer will produce a professional letter which will request special education assessment.
An IEP Preparation Tool – Online tool designed to help parents organize their thoughts and records before attending an IEP meeting, so that they enter the meeting feeling prepared.
CalStat Online IEP Training:
This training is designed to guide professionals and parents through the challenge of writing IEP goals and objectives that are based on California’s state standards. It provides guidance for writing IEP goals that directly apply to the mandates of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as amended in 2004, and are tied to standards, are student focused and are measurable. This self-paced training includes a pre-test, post-test, certificate of completion and takes approximately five to six hours to successfully complete.

Central Coast Center for Independent Living (CCCIL)

CCCIL is one of 400 advocacy centers in the United States which promotes the independence of people with disabilities by supporting their equal and full participation in community life. CCCIL provides advocacy, education and support to all people with disabilities, their families and the community.
CCCIL provides the following services:  Independent Living Information and Referral; Advocacy; Housing Assistance; Personal Assistance Services; Peer Support; Independent Living Skills and Life Skills Training; Community and Systems Advocacy; and Assistive Technology, to persons with disabilities who live in the counties of Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito.
CCCIL provides AT information and referral services, education, and case service coordination to the community in the tri-county area.

Center for Accessible Technology (CAT)

The Center’s goals include participation in higher education, employment and community for persons with disabilities. Center programs are founded on the belief that individuals must make their own decisions about which tools work for them, and that hands-on experience is essential to making an informed decision. CAT provides access to assistive technology that gives people with disabilities access to computers; provide art programs to provide access to artistic expression; and offer ongoing consultation and support to assist people with disabilities in maintaining and enhancing access.

Online resources include:
•    Articles on Assistive Technology such as: “Talking” Programs for the Mac and  Magazine Service for People Who Are Visually Impaired
•    Keyboarding classes for people with disabilities
•    Links to several disability sites
United Cerebral Palsy

Comprehensive links to prominent disability-themed organizations and resources for professionals and persons with disabilities.  A comprehensive, one-stop shop of resources for every U.S. state is available for download in a booklet. The UCP guide provides thorough contact information on every state agency and nonprofit state and local disability organizations for all age groups. To access California’s, go here:

Links and information on technology and disability, specifically info on the Tech Act as well as articles and legislative action on many other technology specific issues.

Special Parents Information Network

Helps children with special needs achieve their full potential by empowering their families and the professionals who serve them through information, support and resources.

SPINN offers the following resources on their website:
•    Information and referral to local resources for children with special needs
•    Mentor program: for parents who want support from other parents
•    Educational workshops and training on various topics to educate parents and professionals
•    IEP clinics – dates and locations
•    Newsletter – archives of this monthly publication covering a range of topics
•    Links to national and local (California) resources

Assistive Technology Funding Manual

This manual consists of three parts: Part I provides general information about funding. Part II lists governmental and private, non-profit agencies and service clubs that provide AT funding. Lastly, Part III lists several helpful resources that assist in the funding search, including sample AT funding worksheets, tips for refuting insurance claims for AT denied by insurance companies, and guidelines for choosing the most appropriate AT devices.

Tech Talk

TECHTALK is a publication of TechConnect & Illinois Assistive Technology Project (IATP) and contains information on technology-related subjects.

Ten Dollar Tech Ideas

Low-cost, high-impact and easy to make devices are featured here as low cost solutions for removing barriers to the environment. Several creative ideas covering everything from grippers and micro-switches to moisture guards and eye patch alternatives. Ten Dollar Tech also appears as a regular column in TECHTALK, Tech Connect/IATP’s Newsletter.

Financing Assistive Technology: Handbook for Funding

An excellent handbook on funding assistive technology through Medicaid, private insurance, and Social Security.

Medicare Funding

The Medicare section of this website offers AAC stakeholders all-you-need-to-know about Medicare, including:
•    Eligibility for purchasing speech generating devices (SGDs), current Medicare SGD coverage guidance, Medicare SGD and accessory codes and fee schedule, as well as the basics about Medicare payments.
•    Medicare coverage of eye-gaze technologies and specific information for people with ALS and their family members.
•    Information about rentals, repairs, replacement devices and Medicare’s scope of coverage of computer and PDA-based devices.
•    Physical prescription and facts about Medicare reimbursement rates for SLP assessment and treatment services.

Resources for Locating Electronic Text on the Internet: A Valuable Tool for Students with LD

Resources for online literature, textbooks, enhanced websites, and online guides to electronic text for thousands of titles and topics.

Microsoft Accessibility: Using On–Screen Keyboard

On–Screen Keyboard is a utility that displays a virtual keyboard on the computer screen that allows people with mobility impairments to type data by using a pointing device or joystick. This link explains how to turn this feature on and off in Microsoft and explains other basics of using it.
SWAAAC: Supporting Learning through Assistive Technology
Organized links to hosts of useful information on Assistive Technology, including:
•        Software Demo Downloads
•    Onscreen Keyboards & Screen Readers
•    PowerPoint Lectures: Teaching Yourself and Others about AT

These downloadable presentations cover a range of topics, including: AAC Assessment, Making Toy Adaptations, Legal Issues and AT, Introduction and Overview of AT, and Reading and Writing: AT for Learning Disabilities
•    Assistive Technology Partners
•    Fast Facts: Quick information sheets covering a variety of Disability topics as they relate to Assistive Technology. Topics include Computer Access, Daily Living, Funding, and Legislation.
Guide to Low-Cost/No-Cost Online Tools for People with Disabilities

This guide was written to provide technology resources that increase access to computers for people with disabilities. The focus here is on low-cost and no-cost on-line resources, organized by category. Links to dozens of useful websites in the following topics:
Funding for Assistive Technology, Accessibility, At-Risk Students, LD/MI, Deaf-Related, Demos, Downloads, Early Learning, English Language Learners, Information, Literacy, and Vision-Related.

Ability Net Skill Sheets

Quick, downloadable sheets detailing “how to” modify, add, delete, etc a variety of keyboard and program tools in Microsoft and Windows, many to meet the needs of persons using Assistive Technology. A few examples include “Slowing Down the Double-click speed on the Mouse” and Windows Magnifier and Narrator.
WATI: Wisconsin Assistive Technology Iniative

Lots of free downloads, including:
•    A Resource Guide for Teachers and Administrators on AT
•    Hey! Can I Try That? A Student Handbook for Choosing and Using AT
•    AT Assessment Package: A process based, systematic approach to providing a functional evaluation of the student’s need for AT in their customary environment
•    Assessment Forms
•    AT Checklists
Closing the Gap

This site contains information about software, hardware and assistive technology options for children and young adults with disabilities. Their site contains articles from the CTG newsletter, questions and answers, searchable product database and contact information for vendors.
Closing the Gap publishes a bi-monthly newspaper highlighting hardware and software products appropriate for people with special needs, and explains how this technology is being implemented in education, rehabilitation, and vocational settings around the world. In-depth, how-to articles, written by experts, provide readers with practical strategies and solutions to tackle their technology implementation problems.
Family Village

The Family Village is a global community that integrates information, resources, and communication opportunities on the Internet for persons with disabilities, their families, and those that provide services and supports.
Trace Research & Development Center

The Trace Research & Development Center is currently working on ways to make standard information technologies and telecommunications systems more accessible and usable by people with disabilities. In particular, the “Web Site” section details how to design more usable websites.
Tech Connections

A one-stop resource for information on assistive technology designed to accommodate people with disabilities in the workplace and in everyday life activities.

AblePlay is an online resource that provides detailed reviews on the latest play products with authoritative ratings by disability categories. As a nonprofit dedicated to serving children with disabilities, we are offering this free, online resource to you professionals and families of children with disabilities.
Able Data

Their primary mission is to provide information on assistive technology and rehabilitation equipment available from domestic and international sources to consumers, organizations, professionals, and caregivers within the United States.
Schwab Learning

Parents and teachers can find information on learning disabilities plus interviews, newsletters, resources, and links to other parents. The site includes a Spanish version of all the information.
EASI Equal Access to Software and Information

This site includes links to online training on accessible technology, including adaptive devices and software and web accessibility.
DO-IT Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology

This site offers links to many different resources related to disabilities and technology. The information is suitable for consumers as well as professionals.

 “Making the Most of Standard Technology to Enhance Learning”

Standard Accessibility Options in Windows XP

WATI AT Assessment Technology Checklist

Computer Resources for People with Disabilities

Current computer hardware and software can give people with any kind of disability new ways to interact with the world. This book brings together user-friendly support and information, including:

•    How to make use of conventional, assistive, and information technologies

•    How to develop an assistive technology plan using worksheets and checklists that help with decision making

•    Tools to help people zero in on the technologies that are most likely to match their abilities and goals.

$15. To Order: or 1800-232-3345

AAC Resources for Families
Author(s):  Pam Harris
Publisher:  Connsense Bulletin
Publication Date:  January 2005

Review:  This 20-page document which downloads as a pdf file from the Connsense web site is extensive and includes a wide variety of information about assistive technology and AAC Resources for families. This may be overwhelming for a parent or other individual who is a newcomer to the field based on the sheer quantity of material. However, the down-to-earth commentary on each item in this resource list is right to the point.

Written by the parent of a child with multiple disabilities who uses AAC, each section contains a short overview and opinion along with references for books, magazines, and links to web sites. The author has also interspersed activities that promote reading skills, advocacy skills and much more. Contents include, but are not limited to assistive technology, planning for future needs, and how to find skilled professionals.

This is a resource list that will take many hours to investigate, and will probably begin to answer most questions of families and professionals, looking for different types of technology that can assist those with special needs. The many links to other web sites should facilitate the process. This is worth taking time to examine.

Cost (As of Date Entered):  No charge

The 2006 “Let’s Play: A Guide to Toys for Children with Special Needs

ATA, TIF (Toy Industry Foundation), and AFB (American Foundation for the Blind) have collaborated to create the newest Toy Guide. Over 200 off-the-shelf toys were tested with children with disabilities and their families across the nation. This guide will help parents, friends, relatives or caregivers choose appropriate and fun toys for kids with disabilities. You’ll be able to find great toys right at your local toy store. If you would like to receive “Let’s Play” the 2006 toy guide or multiple copies (They are free!), please contact Libbie Butler, Program Coordinator for ATA at or by phone at 707.778.3011 or 800.914.3017.

Publications: Assisted Technology and Learning
Assisted Technology and Students with Mild Disabilities
Assisted Technology Outcomes
And more. Accessible here:

Special Education Technology Practice

Features articles on both assistive and instructional technology that have a practical focus for professionals working in special education. Applications of technology that enhance teaching, learning, and performance are highlighted.

ConnSENSE Bulletin: Resources for Learning with Technology

This website is dedicated to bringing practical resources to interested individuals on assistive technology that will help individuals with disabilities. The “What’s New” link contains all the most recent articles, Washington updates, resources reviews, links and conferences on information pertaining to disability and technology. Older articles, Washington updates, resources, etc. in the “Archives.” Interested persons can also sign up for the free Email newsletter that updates subscribers on what’s new five times a year.

UCP: Assistive Technology Checklist for Families.

Copyright 2009, Central Coast Children’s Foundation, Inc.



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