Foundations of Assistive Technology

John Newman, AT Specialist from PACER's Simon Technology Center, discusses the basics of AT and the ways in which technology can alleviate the daily hurdles faced by learners with disabilities. Newman also demonstrates AT alternatives to help learners thrive at school and at home, that should follow them as they move into post-secondary education and the workplace.





- [Voiceover] Well hello and good evening everyone. My name is John Newman. I'm going to be the voice leading you through this wonderful webinar this evening. So we set it to 2 o'clock, it's 2 o'clock, and now we are so happy to begin here. So first and foremost, I want to thank CTD for hosting this opportunity. I know CTD is a recent website and for some of you, this might be your first presentation so thank you so much for joining us. I'm happy to kind of law a foundational knowledge of assistive technology for everyone. So I'm am an assistive technology specialist here at Pacer and it's just such a pleasure working with people everyday showing them how technology can really bring the best out of an individual student. So today I'm gonna kinda be walking you guys through some of that thought process in terms of, you know, there's so much technology that's out there today, but how do I really find something that's gonna make a difference for my student or for my child?

I'm really happy to kind of lay some of that foundation for you guys and then the second half of the presentation we'll be looking at, you know, no matter where you are in the U.S., how are the ways that you connect with other people that are gonna really kind of guide you towards the assistive technology that's right for you and of course, I mean, it's the internet and there are so many good resources out there so the other half of this presentation, I'll be guiding you guys through some of our favorite resources here. So we'll kind of pop right into things here. And kind of let you guys know what's up for the next hour here. So first and foremost, we'll kind of let you guys know who this voice is that you're talking to. I'll introduce myself a little bit more, some of my background and why I enjoy working in this field so very much. After that we'll kind of answer, you know, what is assistive technology? And what's surprising is it...

Sometimes it could be something that you wouldn't think of. So we'll answer that question right away, and once we, kind of as a group, have this knowledge of what it is, we'll really kind of dive into the meat of this webinar which is kind of matching technology to an individual learner. It's really, in a lot of ways, it's a process that you as parents or teachers already do, which is understanding the needs of your child and what's interesting is if you just focus with that, you just kind of can go from there, and even if you're not much of a technical person, still be able to find some technology solutions. So I'll really kind of lay out the couple of different ways to go about that for you as either a parent or a professional or other practitioner. And then from there, we'll go into discovering assistive technology. So kind of clue you guys in on the who, where, and when in terms of where to go and really explore technology hands on or online. So I'll kind of introduce myself here.

My name is John Newman. I work here at the PACER Center. Feel free to indicate in the chat, has anyone here ever heard of PACER Center or used their web resources? Feel free to type in the sidebar there, but PACER Center is a nonprofit here in Minneapolis, Minnesota and I always like to tell people how proud I am to work at PACER, because it's really, in my opinion, a holistic nonprofit for youth with disabilities so we look at issues like bullying, juvenile justice, and of course, we have an advocacy service to let parents know what their educational rights are and part of the equation of what PACER does for families is show them how technology really makes a big impact in a child or a youths life, so I work at the Simon Technology Center. It's part of PACER, and I'm an assistive technology specialist there. Part of what really drew me to working here is my academic background. I have a background in the field of usability which essentially studies our interactions with technology and why we use technology.

So this was a really nice fit for me because I kind of took that passion and I get to work with a lot of individuals day to day and kind of help them find what technology is really gonna help them in terms of how they want to kind of improve their life. So, I've been here for about three years now and I'm really enjoying the work I do. I really specialize in working with teenage individuals, usually looking at skills like executive functioning and life management. So, that's a little bit more about me and we'll just get started here with the what of assistive technology. So luckily here we have a YouTube video that we've produced; It's called, "Understanding Assistive Technology: Simply Said," and I really like this video because it really gets to the heart of what these tools are supposed to do. So I'll cue it up on the screen here and we can give it a watch. Just have to go into... Share my Screen. So it should be up on the screen here any moment. Great, so yep, so if you're on YouTube and you wanna watch this some other time, if you just click, "Understanding Assistive Technology: "Simply Said," this video will pop up and I'll kind of maximize the window here for you guys and get to playing.

- [Voiceover] We all like to do things like color, and read, and use a computer. It's how we play, learn, work, and get things done. But when a disability makes it hard to do something we'd like to do, we need a little help. Luckily, there's a solution. Welcome to Simply Said: Understanding Assistive Technology. Assistive technology, or AT, is anything that helps you do something you couldn't do otherwise, like walk, run, communicate, and more. These helpful tools can be as simple as a phone grip that makes it possible for a child to grasp a crayon and create art, as common as glasses that make it possible for a student to read and learn, or as sophisticated as software that makes it possible for an employee to convert their spoken word to text on a computer screen and succeed. Whether you're young or old, male or female, whether you've had a disability from birth or developed one over the years, AT can help. Finding AT is easier than you might think. Every state has an assistive technology act program to help you find AT. In Minnesota, it's called the Star Program. You can find it at To find a program like Star in another state, check out the Association of Assisted Technology Act Programs at There are also many AT centers including PACERS Simon Technology Center that you can find at The STC's consultants help you explore the numerous technology options available. It's lending library let's you try different kinds of AT to discover what works best for you. So now you know a little bit about AT. It helps you do something that you couldn't do without it, and it's available in every state. This has been Simply Said: Understanding Assistive Technology, video style inspired by, produced by the PACER Center, directed by Bridget Gilormini, artwork and narration by Jonathan Campbell. This project was funded through the Minnesota Star Program.

- [Voiceover] So yep, so that's our Understanding Assistive Technology video shown in kind of a very simple style to kind of get at what assistive technology is and one thing I really like from that video, is like I said, it gets to the heart of this technology. Assistive technology is really gonna be any sort of tool that you can provide your child or student that's gonna help them do something they otherwise couldn't. And that's what's really so fun about exploring this, as a parent or a professional, is it's really a glass half-full kind of mentality. You kind of look at, you know what, my student or child might be struggling with something, but I'm gonna introduce a tool that's gonna build on their strength and really increase their opportunities. So turning kind of from that fun video, here we have the definition of assistive technology and this actually comes from one of PACER's favorite pieces of legislation, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and you'll see in this definition that there's a lot of modifiers in the sentence, and I'll kind of show you why after, but the definition says that: So, what they mean by that here, I'll explain a little bit more.

So assistive technology could be just bought off the shelf. It could just be a product where you go online or to a store, and you buy the product and it's good to go. So in this instance, there's a braille note taker, so that's an interesting device where if I'm using braille, I can take notes through this specialized device and it saves them for me. It could be something that's modified. So, here we have kind of an art toy but say I couldn't interact with that toy in the usual way. Here it's been modified where they've gone into the circuitry and they plugged a separate switch into it so that it's easier for that child to press that switch and use that toy. So that's what's really fun is you can always make something work if it doesn't currently, and that's AT. Another thing that's great about assistive technology these days is that a lot of is kind of hiding right under your nose in a lot of those fabulous consumer devices you use, like a tablet, a smartphone, or a computer. So here we're talking about customizing an experience.

So in this picture here, we see a small girl looking at a digital book and they just customized it to make that text larger so it's more useable for her. So that's something if you own any sort of computer or tablet, if you search for your accessibility features, you'll see that there are so many ways you can customize using that technology and that's AT and it's right there, ready for you to use. So, we've kind of talked a little bit about the what and something that we'll really look at later is the importance of services and really how to find those services and assistive technology service has a pretty broad definition as well. And what I always like to tell parents here is... Well, what they tell me is when they meet with us here, they'll say, "Wow, I've learned so much just sitting down "with you guys for even an hour. "This is so worthwhile." And I mean, in the age of Google where it's so easy to kind of go on it our own and look for information, I always like to stress how impactful it can be to really kind of sit down and talk with a specialist. So we'll really look at services and how you can access those later in the presentation here.

So moving on in kind of our understanding of assistive technology, we've kind of looked at, okay, so it's something that's gonna help my child or student do something they couldn't otherwise do. I can buy it off the shelf, I can modify it, or I might just be able to customize technology and the next point we really like to tell people is that assistive technology, just 'cause it has technology in the name, doesn't mean that it has to be this complex thing. We refer to it as a continuum. There's so much technology of what's referred to as assistive technology that really doesn't involve technology how you would traditionally think of it. So here's a really good example of that continuum here. You see on that picture book there on the upper part of the page, how's there's kind of that gap this is assistive technology so say if a student doesn't have the fine motor skills to grasp that book page, you just put in that little stopper there and what that does is it creates a space that makes it easier for that child to slip their hands in and use that book independently.

So no technology involved there, but it's doing exactly what assistive technology is meant to do, which is help a child do something they couldn't otherwise do. And it can be as simple as that all the way up to this computer here. So you'll notice on that picture of the computer, there's kind of those two bright red switches there. What's interesting is, so say I can't use a computer traditionally with a mouse and a keyboard, there's ways where, once again, we can modify, customize that experience and this user would actually be able to control and do almost anything on that computer by just using those two switches. So it's kind of hacking the experience of the computer making it more useable for someone. So you can see there assistive technology really keep that in the back of your mind. It can be something profoundly simple and it can be something, you know, very, very complex and what's cool is a lot of the times what you need can fall in all sorts of different places of that continuum so we always like to kind of let you guys know just the range of options you have out there.

So moving from the continuum now I'm really excited to show you guys this next video here. You know, looking at what we've reviewed so far, we've kind of talked about the intentions of this technology, the ranges of different technology available, and now as we kind of dive into this other part in terms of you know, how do I get technology that's gonna work for me or my student or my child? We've created these assistive technology and action video series that really personalize using assistive technology. So, kind of keep what you've learned in mind so far as we watch this video here of Jared. He's a young go-getter who actually has his own ad and website design business and using AT is a big part of what makes that happen. So we'll kind of watch this video here and we'll use it as kind of say a conversation point as we go forward in terms of matching technology to a learner. So I'll share my screen here and we can watch this video together.

Hey, so I'm sorry to hear that a couple of you had technical difficulties there. I'm hoping most of us were able to see the video in there. But for those of you that didn't see, Jared, in this case, as you can see in his mouth in this picture, he's using something called a Sip 'n' Puff where that is... He's kind of either sucking or blowing on that and that sends a signal to his computer which has a very advanced software on it that using just that Sip 'n' Puff switch, he's able to control everything on his computer. So there's kind of the recap for those of you who weren't able to see that video. So as you can see, kind of, in that video, and this is a point that we always like to stress with people when they're first kind of searching for technology for their child or student, is that really the first step in finding this is not looking at the technology but looking at your student. So the consideration process really does begin with the individual. So in this case here, we had... And what you saw in the video too is kind of over time. Jared was using different switches to access that computer, so here's he's used a Sip 'n' Puff switch and that got sent to something that kind of interprets that and then it sends to a software on the computer that really enables for all of that to happen.

And this quote, I really, really like and it connects so well to Jared and kind of a lot of the journey that you guys go through when you find technology which is matching the tool to someones need, and this is a great quote that kind of gets to the heart of, you know, what that technology tool's doing for us each time we use it. So you see, you know, there's the need in this case, which is the nail. We have the tool and our capability is that we can swing it. So the hammer head is what fits the problem and the handle fits us. So in Jared's case, we saw, you know, the need was... So here you see him kind of editing that image of the trout, that's his need to be able to really richly interact with this computer and the part that really fit Jared as a human was that Sip 'n' Puff switch and he's using this little IntelliTools box, that little kind of gray box you're seeing, to communicate with that computer and solve that problem. So, that's kind of, sometimes your first bet is you know, I'm inventorying this individuals needs and I'm looking for something that's gonna fit that need and an individuals capability. Kind of like I was saying earlier, that's what's fun about this is it's a very kind of glass half-full kind of environment.

So you look at Jared, for instance, you know, and that's the other thing we like to tell parents and educators when you're looking at assistive technology for someone, is it really thrives in a culture of high expectation. So kind of saying, even if you don't know much about technology, kind of having very wishful thinking, saying, "You know what? I bet there's something out there "that's gonna allow me to do something "that currently is just really hard for me." So in Jared's case you see that that's totally true. He's set up with a very select software setup and he's running his own business. Kind of going from there, you know, we've looked at, so yeah, it is possible. There's a lot of really creative ways that we can find a tool that works great for us but you know, how do I kind of walk through that with my team of support for my child? Like their teacher, their occupational therapist. You know, that's part of what makes finding technology for your student or child so enriching is working with others and something that we really like to mention here at the Simon Technology Center are these ideas of kind of frameworks to go about having this discussion with someone to explore technology.

So here is a very commonly used framework. It's called the SETT framework and it stands for Student, Environment, Task and Tools and you'll notice in this diagram here, all the arrows are pointing to tools and kind of what's great about this is we're talking how this process it begins with the individual and that's exactly what SETT sets out to do. I just unintentionally made a pun there, sets out to do But that's what SETT really does for us, is it allows us to kind of inventory number one, the students. So, when you're going through a SETT process, you'll kind of... And that's the other thing that's cool is so maybe you're not that techy of a person but look at these first three steps in SETT. It doesn't necessarily even have anything to do with technology.

So, a typical walk through of a SETT process is you'll inventory the student. You'll look at the environment that they're kind of learning in and the tasks in those environments and then you use that kind of framework of data to start exploring tools. But it's one thing to talk about it. Here I'll show another one of these assistant technology in action videos about a young man named Brody. So, Brody's very bright but his problem is that when he goes to share his ideas, his troubles with spelling get in the way. So, I'll play this video 'cause it's a great example of some of the other school staff kind of working through the STEPP process in terms of problem solving and some of the tasks he has to do throughout the day. And you'll kind of see some of the really kind of slick technology solutions that he uses to address his spelling issues. So I'll go into here and share my screen again and I'm hoping that everyone can see it this time. So yep, so if you want to find this for yourself you can search, "Assisted technology in action: "Meet Brody," and we'll get started here.

- My hobbies are that I I like taking stuff apart, playing video games, and messing around with my brother. I like taking things apart because I like seeing how things work. My name is Brody and I am going into sixth grade. I use two systems technologies at school. The first one is Co:Writer. It's a word prediction program. You start typing a word, it tries to predict what you're typing. The other assistive technology that I use is the Smart Pen. It's basically a recorder. I learned about Co:Writer from my old OT, Mr. Sumner. He though that it would be good for me. I tried it and it was.

- My name's Annette Cerreta and I'm the assistive technology specialist and occupational therapist here at Northfield Public Schools. Co:Writer is a type of, what they refer to as a word predicition program, so you've probably seen it when you're on the internet and you start to type a word in and it will try to suggest a word for you that it thinks you're trying to spell. That's what word prediction is and so Brody uses a program that's much more elaborate than what you would use.

- The reason why Co:Writer is helpful to me because I have trouble spelling words. Co:Writer makes spelling words easier because it tries to predict the word that you are typing.

- The Livescribe is sometimes called the Smart Pen. It records as you write, so as... Let's say you were taking notes in a class, as you took your notes it would record the teacher giving the lecture and then when you're done with your notes, you can go back to them, touch your pen on that paper where you wrote the note and it would play the recording of what was being said at that time when you were taking those notes.

- I'm going to play a recording.

- [Voiceover] Okay, so as you type remember to write down the key things. So today we are going to talk about--

- It would skip through that part that you wrote it.

- [Voiceover] Yeah, and just put them on but start to say to yourself--

- He also used the pen to record what he was saying to write his own papers.

- Instead of writing an entire paragraph, I can record it quickly for later.

- He had these great ideas but the spelling kind of slowed him down and got in his way so he would record his thoughts using the pen and then go sit down at the computer and basically transcribe them and type them out onto the computer to create his assignments.

- I would record class, my thoughts, and my ideas.

- Brody as a student was very bright and he had really good ideas. It was really difficult for him to get them on a paper pencil form and the assistive technology really opened up his possibility for getting his ideas down in written form and it just streamlined the process for him and he was more motivated to write.

- Guys, I hope that was helpful but I've got to go beat my brother on the Xbox 360.

- [Voiceover] Great, so I hope you all enjoyed meeting Brody there. As you can see he was really proud of, kind of, how he was using those. That's kind of the power of this process here. So you saw in that video, you know, there were some different people in Brody's life that really, kind of, directed him towards these tools. So, kind of using Brody as an example here, I'll kind of walk through some of the stuff that you might kind of spitball with each other while you're going through with that process. So, first you look at that student. So kind of like they were saying Brody's this very, very bright kid but his spelling's getting in the way so we know he has great ideas and we're looking for something that's gonna enable that to happen. And next we look at that environment. So you notice in here the tools he was using could work well in a variety of environments. So, you're talking about when you're in class, he has that Smart Pen so that's kind of connecting the knowledge he's learning in class to the ideas that he's gonna be writing later.

So you kind of look, you know, Brody, bright guy, he needs help spelling. He's in class, he's at home. And the task essentially we're looking to address is writing and note taking. So for note taking he has that really slick pen that is syncing that recording and for him that's doing a couple of things. One, since he's recording his lecture, he doesn't need to write as much which kind of lessens his cognitive load in terms of needing to spell all of those notes, and then later, what's really cool is he can take that pen and as he's reviewing those notes he can kind of record his own ideas that he's gonna be using for a paper later. And what's interesting there connecting that set process that we're looking at is great, so maybe you worked as a team to get Brody really on board with that Smart Pen where he's really connecting the knowledge from his class and he's able to personally record it and use that later. Now it's time to look at writing. So there at the task step, kind of where they introduced that Co:Writer, so that's that word prediction program where as Brody is writing, it's providing those examples for him, which kind of lessens the stress of him as he's trying to spell these words.

So that's just a great example where, you know, you just kind of run through those considerations: the student, the environments they find themselves in them, the tasks that they're really struggling with, and then you use that information to point you towards some tools. The other thing I'll really kind of mention with you guys, is you notice here, Brody's using two tools together and they really compliment each other well, and that's something we really like to tell people on their first, kind of, starting their journey into the wonderful world of assistive technology is that often times there's not just, kind of, one miracle thing that, kind of, you know, does it all for you. A lot of times using these things in different environments for different tasks, as long as they connect and compliment each other, that's how you can get a really good, kind of, solution like Brody has for himself right here. The other thing that we really like about a framework like SETT here is so you know when you're talking with a lot of different people in Brody's life, you know, his OT Annette, his teacher, his parents, what's great about SETT is since there's some of that structure to it, it really allows everyone to be on the same page in terms of the information and the goals they're trying to accomplish.

So here's a really good quote that kind of reflects that power of using something like SETT. It says: And having that kind of atmosphere is just so important as you guys kind of work together to really set someone up for success when using assistive technology. So to kind of wrap things up, not wrap things up, but to kind of debrief with where we are so far, so we've looked at you know, what is assistive technology. It's gonna be any sort of tool. As we saw, it could be very simple or very complex. Any tool that's gonna help a child or student do something they otherwise couldn't do. We learned that there's a lot of services that can help us set ourselves up for success and we'll look at some more of those later. And we learned also too that, you know, often times it's not just gonna be, kind of, one miracle device. A lot of times we're using a lot of supports together to get to a solution. So, now that we've kind of set ourselves up for some of that foundational knowledge, let's really kind of dive into another really fun part of laying this foundation of assistive technology, which is just discovering all these great resources of information out there that can really get us going.

Oh and I should mention too, SETT is not the only framework that's out there so we have some links here in the presentation that give you some other kind of thoughts on a framework to use. So now to the fun part of discovering some assistive technology. One that I think is just a great resource that you guys have right at your fingertips here is this new center on technology and disability website. So what I'm gonna do here is I'm gonna kind of launch that up and kind of walk you through all of the fantastic, kind of, options that you have right at your fingertips here on CTD. So I'll kind of open up a screen share here. And I see a comment in here from Jackie M. She says, "Really interesting to see "how AT can function as a bridge "between individuals needs and individuals goals "be they academic, professional, et cetera." And that's a really good point here, Jackie, and actually something I didn't talk about earlier is part of what really makes technology powerful, that process of looking for it, is involving that individual student.

So you kind of saw there how Brody seemed kind of really proud to show off a lot of that stuff. Keeping him in that conversation in terms of, you know, what's really gonna reflect your style and kind of the way you want to work is really so important and that's something I have the pleasure of doing here because I work directly kind of with families and individual students and kind of getting that involvement up front from a student is just so critical. So, thanks for kind of pointing that out Jackie. So yeah, so I'll finally share my screen here and we can kind of check out the CTD website together. So, can everyone see my screen there? Yep. Great. So, finding CTD is gonna be as easy as going to Google and searching Center on Technology and Disability. and currently we're about the fourth one down on that list there. So, when you open up the website, you'll kind of see the big three foundations of what CTD will offer you here, and this is just gonna be the first of, kind of, many different online resources that I'm gonna offer you guys here, so we'll kick it off with CTD. First and foremost feel free to indicate in the chat, is this anyone's kind of first time using CTD? Are most of us kind of in the loop about it? Feel free to let me know in the chat but I'll kind of walk you through here.

So you see on the bottom here kind of the big three parts of what CTD offers us is a learning center so this is kind of in depth guided professional learning modules. We have this cafe which you guys are all enjoying right now. We have so many other professionals that we're lining up to do events so really stay tuned with what we have to offer in the cafe here and a great way to do that, you see Subscribe for CTD Updates? If you just subscribe there, we'll kind of keep you in the loop with everything that's coming up. So, these are gonna be kind of expert lead e-learning opportunities. We have webinars. We're gonna have forms available through there and we're also facilitating Tweet chats, which is if you're a Twitter user, it's a great way to kind of connect with some of these knowledgable AT professionals over Twitter and share resources. And last but not least, I think one that's just a perfect resource for folks that are kind of new to AT is this library so I'll kind of walk you through how to use our library here. So, when you open up the library, we really try to work hard. We have a lot of content and we've organized it kind of by topic here, so even if you don't know kind of what your searches are you can still kind of use this and find some great information.

So, if you're a family for instance, you can go into Family and Student Support and you have some of your, as you see on the side here, some of your other options that you can use to kind of filter down who that's for. So say if you're a family member and you want something for you as a parent, you can just click that audience and that will kind of put things in here that we've created just for you guys as families stuff that we think is gonna be really useful for you. So that is kind of the gist of CTD, kind of keep in the loop 'cause we're really throwing out a lot of great events for you, including one coming up called, "Going Google." So if you guys don't know, Google Chrome has a web browser that's actually a very powerful assisted technology tool these days and there's a lot of free things that you can add onto it to make it that way and this events really gonna kind of highlight how to begin that and start exploring some of that. Make sure to check that out. So, kind of going from CTD here I'll kind of share some of the resources that we offer here at PACER Simon Technology Center. So I'll open us up real quick.

So if you just searched PACER Center, that'll bring you to our homepage. PACER. And then if you're looking for our assisted technology information, see here under Categories and Programs, you can click Simon Technology Center and a lot of this information is about promoting our services but if you're just browsing for general information, we have a whole host of publications that we've offered and what's great is we really write these for a wide audience so if you're someone who's totally new to this topic, we've really kept that in mind and we've created some awesome brochures and other materials for you guys, so feel free to take a look at our brochures here. Another thing that's great is we like to put up a lot of our presentation handouts from recent presentations so if you look here at the dates of some of these presentations this is just a really great way to keep up to date with some of the latest stuff that's kind of happening in AT so feel free to peruse those as well.

So we just took a look at a couple of really kind of helpful websites, but the next thing I really want to lead you guys into is, you know, if you really wanted to get face to face with someone in your state who's an assisted technology specialist like I am, I'll kind of show you some great ways that you can start to find out that information and I'm gonna open it up here by showing a video we've produced that kind of gives you guys an idea of something that's called an assisted technology library. So, an AT library is a great resource that you might even have in your school so I suggest talking, maybe with some of your child's teachers, and seeing if there's an assisted technology library in your school or a nearby district and I'll show you some other ways in terms of looking at a statewide level if there's assisted technology libraries. But an assisted technology library is a great place where you can walk in and have hands on experience with some potential assisted technologies that could potentially make a difference in your child or student's life. So, kind of search this up here and we'll wallk you through, kind of, what that library experience would be like.

- [Voiceover] The local pubic library is a great place... can't be borrowed from the public library, specialized technology, like a reading pen for instance, or a talking dictionary. Luckily, there's a solution. Welcome to Simply Said: Understanding Assistive Technology Lending Libraries. Assistive technology, or AT, is anything that helps you do something you couldn't do otherwise, like walk, run, communicate, and more. Once you know that assistive technology might help you, how do you find the right technology? You need to try different specialized technologies before deciding which one is right for you. Like checking out books at the library, you can check out assistive technology at places that loan this specialized equipment. These places are called Assistive Technology, or AT Loan Libraries. The process is similar to loaning books from the pubic library. First, you may be asked to fill out some paperwork. Then you will follow the procedures at the AT Loan Center each time you check something out. The people who staff the AT Lending Library are called Assistive Technology Specialists. They can help you find technology to try.

At the library, you might browse the shelves to see what it has. AT Libraries will also have a way for you to know what assistive technology they have. At an AT Library, you may be able to browse the shelves, look at a list, or check an online inventory to find what you want. You know what you want to try, you are ready to check out your items. At checkout, you'll be given a return date. You will need to bring the technology back by that date so someone else can try it. Now you can try the item to see if it will be right for you. You can try it at home, at school, at work, or out in the community. Talk about the technology you are trying. If it's not working, try something else. When the loan period is over, simply return the items to the library. The items are reshelved and made available to the next person who wants to try them. You now have some information about what technology might be right for you. Trying things helps you make smart purchasing decisions. Once you've made your decision, you can buy the technology at a store, look through a catalog, or website of vendors that sell the specialized equipment. Your AT specialist can help you find places to buy assistive technology. To find AT Lending Libraries in Minnesota, you can contact Star at With the Simon Technology Center at Every state has an Assistive Technology Act Program to help you find AT Loan Programs. To find a program like Star in another state, check out the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs at To learn more about assistive technology, check out Simply Said: Understanding Assistive Technology.

- [Voiceover] Great, as you guys saw in that video, that's kind of your typical experience at an Assistive Technology Loan Library and let me use this moment to kind of talk about how important it is to, as you guys are really looking at this assistive technology, to utilize a resource like this library, because sometimes this assistive technology can cost a lot of money and with an opportunity like a loan library gives you guys is the opportunity to try these technologies out in those environments, performing those tasks and see what really is the right fit and if you guys are really kind of curious on this topic in terms of, you know, how do I work with a school to maybe use some of their technology? Do I always have to, kind of, buy it out of my own pocket? If you look up on CTD, either implementing assistive technology, funding assistive technology, or considering assistive technology, you'll get a wealth of resources that kind of walk you through that thought process in terms of, you know, once I've found something I like, how do I start to fund it or work with the school to acquire it? So that's kind of the next step for you guys to look at it after trialing something.

Now I'll show you guys how to use this website that was mentioned in the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs. This is a great way to find, you know, in your home state what AT libraries are available. So if you just Google, "Association "of Assistive Technology "Act Programs," you'll go to their homepage here and I'll show you the link you're gonna want to look for. It's seen here in the upper right, this AT Programs, you just click that and select your state. So here's Minnesota. And you're given the contact information for that statewide AT organization so if you call them up, you can just ask, you know, "What are some of the assistive technology loan libraries "available to me?" And they'll be happy to direct you from there. So kind of moving on now. We'll look at some of these other really fantastic web resources that are out here for you guys. So I'll go into Adobe Connect here and kind of keep the slides moving. Here we go. Too many windows open. So yep, so you see on this slide here we have some more resources listed for you here. I think one I'd really like to spotlight for you guys is the National Center for Learning Disabilities. If you are new to the topic of assistive technology or just disabilities in general, this is a fantastic organization for you guys, either a parent or a professional. So, Google that here. Oh, and I got to share my screen here so you guys can see that. Thanks for your patience here guys. This is my first time using this Adobe Connect tool.

So yep, so you see my fabulous web browser here. National Center on Learning Disabilities. And what's interesting with this organization is they offer different programs here so you see if you go up to their Programs tab and I recognize it might be hard to see for you guys on the computer there, that text might be pretty fine, but there's, you know, organizations for parents, for young adults themselves with learning differences, for educators, for professionals, and I take a second to highlight this understood section for parents. So I just think this is a beautifully crafted website with really parent friendly language that you guys could really spend hours kind of learning and exploring on. And if you're looking for assistive technology in particular, you can go into the School and Learning tab and they have an assistive technology topic just right there for you guys so feel free to check out some of this stuff. They have, you know, handy things like this, like a checklist, you know, what to consider when looking at assistive technology. So definitely give that a look if you're new to assitive technology 'cause it's a very first timer friendly kind of web resource for you guys.

So kind of moving on here now, I'd like to take a moment to highlight... Oh, let me change the slide here. Stop sharing here. So this question usually gets a lot of interest from people. Who here is a Pinterest user? Feel free to indicate in the chat there. If you are a Pinterest user, there are just so many options that you have available to you in terms of exploring assistive technology here. And you're talking to the right guy here because at PACER here we do a great job of kind of keeping up with the AT world on Pinterest. So let's kinda highlight a couple here. So we'll start with the Simon Technology Center Pinterest page and I'll kind of show you some favorites that I think you guys would really like. So if you're on Google, you can just start with, "Simon Technology "Center Pinterest," and you'll see you our name. Whoops, looks like I forgot to share the website there. I'll go to Add New Share. Learning as we go here.

Great, so you guys should be seeing my screen any moment here. Perfect. Let's see if it's gonna start to get any larger for you guys, it looks like it might be al little small. Oh great, there we go. So here's our Simon Tech page on Pinterest and what's really cool about Pinterest is it's a way to tag anything from online and kind of organize it in boards here. So, a couple of these boards I think you guys would really like starting out here that we've curated. If you're into early childhood, this is a fantastic board that's curated by our director here Bridget Gilormini. It's 30 days of assistive technology professional development so if you're a professional, these are some handpicked topics that we think we really give you a great foundation of early childhood assistive technology knowledge. Another area I think you guys are gonna really like is this one. This is a great one to check out, this Google Chrome Apps and Extensions. If you're planning on attending that February event with Mike. Like I was saying, Google Chrome, it's a free web browser and there's so many free apps and extensions you can add onto it to make it an assistive technology tool so feel free to check these out. Pretty much everything on this page is free and it's super easy to start using, so that's a great way to really get some hands on experience with assistive technology right away.

And of course, last but not least, we also offer a do it yourself assistive technology page. These are all some really kind of handy ways that you yourself could use technology to increase your students capabilities without, you know, having to spend much, or go to a store and buy it. So that's our Pinterest page here. The other one I really wanted to cue you guys into here is... There is another AT professional, her name is Lauren Enders, and I don't know if she pays someone to do all this pinning 'cause I can't imagine one person pinning as much as she does, but she's another fantastic resource on Pinterest to going and exploring assistive technology, so definitely give that a look as well. So we've looked at Pinterest here and I want to really keep the social media bug going here and we'll take a look at Twitter. As many of you know, and feel free in the chat box, let us know here who's a Tweeter. We definitely are. So I'll kind of show you guys CTD's Twitter here.

So if you search for CTD Institute and Twitter you'll see our @CTDInstitute is our Twitter name and we've really been taking a look at, you know, what's just some of the hottest things online in terms of topics to AT and we always make sure to post those on our Twitter page so definitely check that out. The Simon Tech Center, if you search Simon Tech Center on Twitter as well, you'll land on our page and you'll see all the information that we curate on Twitter as well. The only thing I wanted to mention, and this I'll have to stop sharing my screen here, and go back into the presentation. So I'll move up to Twitter here. If you are a Twitter user, there's something referred to as a Tweet Chat. So, a Tweet Chat is pretty much a set time. People give out a hashtag and what a hashtag does is it... So if I do a Tweet and I put this #ATChat, it ties me to that conversation and here we have a link here to AT Chat which is a bunch of professionals that kind of get together and talk about assistive technology during a certain topic. So that's AT Chat and kind of keep an eye open.

Next Tuesday actually, we're gonna be hosting a follow-up AT chat, which is gonna be a lot of fun and that's just gonna kind of just add to and augment what we've learned in this webinar and from the other discussion so that's where you're gonna be able to talk with me and anyone else from the Simon Technology Center. Oh yeah, thanks Anna Marie for putting those details in there. So that's gonna be a lot of fun. So all you guys that are active on Twitter, make sure you join us for that. The other thing I wanted to highlight is YouTube. Let's see, we have about five minutes left, so I think I can show it. YouTube, we showed a lot of our videos earlier. I'm gonna share my screen here just so you have an idea of some of the other videos that are out there. Yeah, so, CTD's YouTube is growing and if you go onto their website here, it's kind of in the bottom left, you'll see that YouTube icon. I want to take a second to highlight-- Sorry about that guys. I want to take a second to highlight this AT in Action video series. This is a great way where if you're kind of a parent or someone new to technology, we really wanted to do this so you get an idea of, you know, how technology fits into a persons life, and I'll kind of go down the list here. So up top we have Brody. We watched him. If you're really curious about, you know, communication.

Say you have a child or a student that's nonverbal, "Meet Al," is gonna kind of walk you through how she uses AT to communicate and AT stands for assistive technology. This is a fantastic one if you have teenage students, this, "AT in Action: Meet Joe," if you have teenage students that are struggling with reading, "Meet Joe," kind of walks you through all the cool ways where you can get your books in an alternative format and read those digitally. So that's a great one. "Meet Jared," you guys saw. And if you're curious, you know, if you have a young child with a visual impairment, "AT in Action: Meet Mason," this one on the bottom is a great one that kind of walks you through all the variety of different tools that can really help address some of the issues that a visual impairment might cause. So definitely check those out. It's a great way to really personally understand how technology makes a difference for someone. So I'll stop sharing my screen here and pop back into our presentation.

And last but not least, I wanted to also kind of highlight this idea of community of discussion. So who here uses Listserve at all? And if so, this QIAT Listserve, you see Q-I-A-T, that stands for Quality Indicators of Assistive Technology. That's really if you want to connect with the best and the brightest in the assistive technology world, QIAT is the place to go, so you can add yourself to that Listserve and kind of keep track of the conversations there or ask any questions that you might have. And the other thing that's great too, like I said earlier with these cafe events, we have forms so actually if you go to the Foundations of Assistive Technology page on CTD, there's a link to our forms there and we've put plenty of material on there for you guys including stuff like an AT glossary and some really great materials to kind of get you guys started so make sure to go back to that event page and check out some of the discussions there. So it looks like I have a couple of minutes left so I just want to kind of let you guys know one, thank you so much for attending.

We covered a lot of material in this one hour and just to kind of summarize these main parts here, you guys really, if you're kind of asking yourself, "So what was this foundation of assistive technology?" It kind of revolves around a couple things. One, we kind of focus that assistive technology really can be anything and the goal of it is really helping find a solution to someone's problem so it's something that is allowing someone to do something they otherwise couldn't, and it really thrives best when you have high expectations for that person. Two, we really looked at when it comes to selecting this technology. We really want to kind of put all of our ducks in our row before we just kind of, you know, push something in front of a child or student so we looked at that idea that considering this stuff begins with looking at the individual and we looked at things like framework, like SETTS, student environment, tasks, tools, where we can really have a great conversation about what this child or student needs before we go ahead and select some technology. From there, I hope you guys appreciated just all the different web resources, local state resources where you can really connect with a whole bunch of knowledge on the topic and get yourself going.

So that kind of, in a nutshell, summarizes the hour we've spent here together. Does anyone have any questions at this moment that I can answer before we wrap this up? So it looks like a couple of people are typing here. While folks are typing, I'll direct you to this link here. So what we do on the page here you see in blue, we have a survey, so if you can let us know how this presentation went, that would be great. We really appreciate your feedback. The other thing that's great is we're offering a Certificate of Attendance for those that attended today so if you fill out this survey you'll notice there's a field where you can put in your e-mail information and then we'll just take that e-mail and send you that certificate as well.

Oh thank you Amy for your comments here. Any other questions at the moment before we wrap things up? Oh thanks Jackie, too, for the compliment. Definitely hope to see you again. Oh yep, and just so you guys know, this webinar will be posted online tomorrow, so please share this with friends and colleagues. And of course, definitely check in with CTD as you saw earlier, there's just so much information on this website and we're really happy to kind of get things started and share this with you. Great, and yep, thanks Bridget for mentioning the Tweet chat. That's next Tuesday, so we hope to see you guys then. It's gonna be a lot of fun. Yep. Yeah. Great. So yeah, so thanks everyone. I think we'll start to formally close the presentation here but I just want to thank you all so much once again for attending and I hope we really got you excited to really start some of this exploration of just the wonderful opportunities that assistive technology provides. So thanks again everyone for attending and looking forward to seeing you again.