CRT – Assistive Technology for Schools

The Center for Rehabilitation Technology provides a variety of assistive technology services which can be tailored to the needs of school children with disabilities. The focus of these services is to identify and provide adaptive interventions which reduce the barriers to academic progress related to a child’s sensory, physical, or learning disability

Augmentative/Alternative Communication

This program provides services to students who have a disability or impairment of expressive communication. AAC services attempt to compensate permanently or temporarily for those with severe speech-language and writing impairments. For young children, we design AAC interventions to increase communication opportunities and teach specific communication and social interaction skills and also to encourage communication readiness. The approaches taken need to be integrated throughout a child’s educational program. These approaches should include: evaluation, implementation, coordination of technologies and of the service providers.

Click here to see Tara Lynch honored at Helen Hayes Hospital Honors Assembly 2014. Tara Lynch is an amazing 14 year-old with Cerebral Palsy who uses Tobii’s eye-gaze computerized speech technology to communicate with the world.

Computer Access

Adaptive computer equipment and software can enhance a student’s use of computers in a variety of ways. For persons with learning disabilities, computers can be an excellent tool for learning, writing and planning. Students with difficulties in keeping up with the documentation requirements of school may find that a computer with voice-recognition software or a word-prediction program gives them the assistance they need to produce at an appropriate grade level. For persons with limitations in hand function, many alternate ways of typing and using a mouse are available. For persons with visual or other perceptual impairments, alternate types of displays can make using a computer easier. With the right adaptations, each person can get the most out of their computer.

Classroom Seating and Workspace Accommodation

For those students with disabilities which compromise balance and the ability to sit in a standard classroom chair, it is important they be provided with a seating system/desk that offers proper body support and easy access to their books and materials. The ergonomics of their particular school work environment is critical to maximizing their potential with regard to academic performance. For children who use a wheelchair for mobility, ergonomic considerations involved the determination of fixtures and workstation adaptations which maximize access to materials. CRT clinicians will assess these ergonomic needs for the particular student, and develop options for addressing them in a practical, cost effective manner.

Environmental Accommodation

This includes any change to a student’s tools or educational environment that will accommodate a disability and allow him or her to successfully function. This would encompass architectural modifications such as ramps and widened doorways for wheelchair users, rearranging work spaces to make them more functional, instructions and reminders for those with memory difficulties, assess to laboratories, gyms and all other environments.

Rehabilitation Engineering

There are circumstances where off-the-shelf products do not effectively meet the functional, vocational or educational needs of someone with a disability. In such situations, a custom approach is indicated, where existing products are modified or new products created in response to a specific person’s requirements. The CRT’s Engineering program provides the engineering support required for design and fabrication. Resources include fully equipped electronics and mechanical workshops staffed by professional and technical staff with experience in developing engineering solutions for people with disabilities. We can design, develop and fabricate custom electronic modules, including embedded microprocessor systems.

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