Buffalo Public Schools
Assistive Technology Service
SUSAN LAWRENCE - DEDERICH
Buffalo Public School 84
462 Grider Street
Buffalo, New York 14215
(716) 816-4080, ext. 1137
Assistive Technology Service for the Buffalo Public Schools is located on the campus of the Erie County Health Care Center for Children – Buffalo Public School #84. The term assistive technology usually brings to mind high-tech devices, but federal legislation defines assistive technology as "any item, piece of equipment, or product system . . . that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capacities of individuals with disabilities." The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of that device. (Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1401(1))
Assistive technology service provides assistance to a student with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology. The term includes:
- Evaluation of a the needs of a student with a disability,
Purchase, lease, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology equipment by students with disabilities
- Selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, maintaining, repairing, or replacing assistive technology
- Coordination with educational personnel to provide support to the student using such technology
Training or technical assistance for the student and educators who provide services to the student.
(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1401(2))
A low-tech device such as a pencil with tape wrapped around it to make it easier to hold for a student who has impaired muscle control in her hands is included in the federal definition of assistive technology, as is a dedicated communication device that provides speech output for a student who cannot speak. The range of devices available for people with disabilities is so broad that discussing all the various types would be impractical here. What follows is a broad and somewhat selective overview of devices commonly used in school settings.
Augmentative communication devices provide the opportunity for nonverbal students or with limited verbal abilities to produce and/or understand speech. The technology can range from a board with pictures to represent a student's daily needs to speech output devices used for storing and playing back prerecorded speech to computers with speech output that enable the users to create unique messages.
Students with physical or sensory disabilities may not be able to use a computer because of their impairments. They may have no problem reading a computer screen but may not be able to type or input information without adaptive hardware. Such devices include expanded keyboards, where the keys are larger and further apart, trackballs/joysticks in place of a mouse, keyboards adapted for use with just one hand, and input through blinking an eye or blowing on a switch. For students who are visually impaired, Braille input and output devices are available as well as computer software that can enlarge portions of the screen. Since text-only computer output would be a barrier for a blind student, text-to-speech software can be used. Earphones for students using voice output can eliminate distractions for others.
Assistive Technology for Students with Learning Disabilities
Despite adequate cognitive ability, learning disabled students' difficulties with basic skills such as reading and writing can prevent full participation in the classroom. Computer technology provides students with dysgraphia (i.e., inability to produce legible handwriting) the means to create text through the use of a word-processing program. Students with severe spelling can compensate using spell checkers and on-line thesauruses. Word prediction programs that can anticipate words from a few letters to increase both accuracy and speed of input. Organizational software aides the student with writing problems through the use of outlines and concept mapping.
To request an Assistive Technology Evaluation complete the forms listed here under "related links" then submit to School#12 c/o Nina Blumlein, Supervisor of Supervisor of Revenue - Related Services, Room 202.
The first three files are the forms required to request an evaluation. The fourth file offers suggestions for teachers prior to completing the above forms.