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Assistive Technology (AT)

 Photo of a young man using a laptop computer

What is Assistive Technology?

Assistive technology refers to devices that are used by people with disabilities to perform functions that might otherwise be difficult or impossible for them to do.

“For Americans without disabilities, technology makes things easier. For Americans with disabilities, technology makes things possible” (Radabaugh, 1988).

AT Defined in IDEA

An AT device is...
"any item, piece of equipment, or product whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a child with disabilities.”
An AT service is...
"any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device” (e.g., functional evaluation in customary environments, training for student, family, and staff).

What federal laws define assistive technology?

  • First defined in the Technology-Related Assistance Act of 1988 (Tech Act)
  • Re-authorized in 2004 as the Assistive Technology Act (AT Act)
  • Included in the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)

What does AT have to do with AIM?

Assistive technology (AT) and accessible instructional materials (AIM) are closely linked. IDEA references access to printed instructional materials that can be converted into the specialized formats of braille, large print, audio, or digital text. Other than embossed braille and hard copy large print, specialized formats require technology to deliver the content to the student. When a student served under IDEA needs technology for access to the content and the curriculum, the technology meets the definition of AT.

Find out more about AIM and specialized formats.

Braille Large Print Audio Digital Text
Braille icon AIM print icon Audio icon Computer icon

What state assistive technology resources are available?

Each state has organizations that provide services and information about AT. Check out the numerous AT resources specific to your state.

What national assistive technology resources are available?

Many national organizations provide a wide range of AT resources and references including information about conferences and online learning opportunities.

Where can I learn more?

Disability-Specific Resources

Learn more about—

  • The Legal Context
  • General Resources for All Disability Categories
  • Functional Disability Categories
Assistive Technology Research

Learn more about—

  • Assistive Technology Journals
  • Related Disability and Technology Journals
  • Assistive Technology Research Resources



What is your state doing?

Last Updated: 06/30/2014

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