Cobb County Schools’ Assistive Technology department works with individual students to meet their needs for accessing the curriculum.
Many students have complex needs that present significant challenges to their ability to participate in the classroom. Our AT specialists rise to this challenge! Students with multiple physical disabilities may need technology to help them communicate, write, and use classroom materials including computers. Students who don’t speak are provided with communication systems that range from low-tech printed boards to high-tech eye gaze devices. Each student’s needs are carefully assessed to determine which system will best suit his or her needs and there are many factors that must be considered. Software on high-tech devices provides a platform for communication as well as academic classwork. Some students who can’t use their hands to touch a screen may use eye-gaze technology in which cameras on the device track the pupils and activate the screen at the point of the student’s gaze. Some students may not be able to use hands, but can use a foot to control a mouse. Other students may have limited use of hands and need the support of a key-guard that will improve accuracy. Cobb’s AT department partners with vendors when selecting equipment for our students with complex and multiple disabilities.
Examples include Tobii-Dynavox, PRC, and Saltillo, which provide communication programs, apps, and equipment. Sometimes there is not an exact match between a product and a need, or we need to have the student try a solution before purchasing. In these cases, we become Makers and adapt or modify existing products.
There are many resources for ideas and solutions; one example is ATMakers.org, a non-profit organization which shares plans and ideas for modifying everyday items to become accessible to someone with a disability.
Additionally, we meet regularly with the Metro AT Consortium which is comprised of AT departments in the Atlanta area. Remember: For people with typical abilities, technology makes doing things easier; for people with disabilities, technology makes doing things possible!
Susan Christensen, Director
Contributing Author: Lorraine Edwards, Specialist, Assistive Technology