Accessible Learning Department
Eaton RESA provides Assistive Technology (AT), Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC), Deaf/Hard of Hearing (D/HH) and Visual Impairment and Orientation/Mobility (VI/O&M) support to assist its students, families and teachers.
Eaton RESA is proud to provide its students, families, and teachers with a variety of assistive technology training, services, and devices. We strive to stay "on the cutting edge" of technology trends in order to support our students in the most effective and efficient method available.
What is AT?
Assistive technology is an umbrella term that includes any assistive or adaptive device for people with disabilities. This includes supports for academics, life skills, communication, hearing, and vision. The role of assistive technology and also includes the process of selecting, locating, and implementing devices or supports. At Eaton RESA, our Assistive Technology Consultant specializes in supporting students in their ability to access the curriculum and "show what they know."
What is AAC?
Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC) includes all forms of communication (other than oral speech) that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas. This includes sign, symbols, pictures, and alternative forms of voice output. At Eaton RESA, our AAC Specialist supports teams working with students who have complex communication needs. This also includes a process of evaluating, selecting, and implementing devices and supports specific to communication.
What is D/HH?
Deaf/Hard of Hearing refers to students with a hearing loss of any degree. Students with an educationally significant hearing loss (which is determined by an IEP team) may qualify for Special Education services from a Teacher Consultant/Specialist for the D/HH. A TC-D/HH provides many services, which may include: collaboration with IEP team members, Audiology clinics, and ENT's, consultation with professional staff, students, and families of students with hearing loss; direct service therapy to address Self Advocacy needs, educational support, and hearing aid technology/FM support. At ERESA, our Teacher Specialist for the D/HH is here to serve you and your students!
What is VI/O&M?
The Teacher Consultant for the Visually Impaired (TCVI) provides services to students across the county who are blind or visually impaired. A student is considered visually impaired if they have a central visual acuity for near or far point vision of 20/70 or less in the better eye after routine refractive correction, a peripheral field of vision restricted to not more than 20 degrees, or a diagnosed progressively deteriorating eye condition. The TCVI will support classroom teachers in making appropriate classroom accommodations for the student in order for the student to have access to the core curriculum. Some of these accommodations might include seat position in the classroom, font size for near and distance tasks, specifications for lighting, enlarging materials, use of special paper/markers, use of a reading standing, use of a magnification device, and use of specific technology. The TCVI works to make sure the student, staff, and family understand the impact of the visual impairment on both school and life activities. Recently, we have provided several seminars where the whole class wore simulator googles to see how a person with a visual impairment might function. The TCVI might also provide direct instruction in any area of the expanded core curriculum. The expanded core curriculum include skills that are needed by students with visual impairments due to their unique disability-specific needs. The expanded core curriculum includes compensatory or functional academic skills (including communication modes), orientation and mobility, social interaction skills, independent living skills, recreation and leisure skills, career education, use of assistive technology, sensory efficiency skills, and self-determination. It’s important to remember that a student who is blind or visually impaired needs to be taught most things directly. They don’t have the luxury of incidental learning that their sighted peers experience just by looking around and seeing how the world works. The TCVI works in partnership with schools and families to help students put the pieces together to understand the whole picture.
A student who is blind or visually impaired might also need services from an Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Specialist. Orientation refers to understanding where you are in space and mobility is the ability to move through that space to get from one point to another. With structured and sequential instruction in O&M even a student who is totally blind can learn how to safely and independently travel both in familiar and unfamiliar settings. Some students will require the use of a long cane for travel. Not only does the long cane identify the student as having a visual impairment it also provides important feedback for the student as he/she travels. This feedback allows the student to detect obstacles and maintain a safe and efficient route. O&M instruction includes teaching basic concepts of different indoor and outdoor environments, residential travel, street crossings, travel in semi-business and business environments, and the use of all forms of public transportation. All of this is paired with instruction in the proper technique and use of the long cane when necessary.
The TCVI and O&M instructor work closely together, in collaboration with the school team and family, to provide a comprehensive education for the student who is visually impaired. The goal is for students to have full access to the core curriculum, be well rounded in areas of the expanded core curriculum, and have the skills to be safe and independent travelers.
Laws Supporting the Consideration and Provision of Assistive Technology
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (P.L. 105-17) requires that assistive technology be provided for all students with disabilities who require it. The law specifies that:
(a) Each public agency shall ensure that assistive technology devices or assistive technology services, or both, as those terms are defined in §§300.5-300.6, are made available to a child with a disability if required as a part of the child's -
(1) Special education under §§300.26;
(2) Related services under §§300.24; or
(3) Supplementary aids and services under §§300.38 and 300.550(b)(2).
(b) On a case-by-case basis, the use of school-purchased assistive technology devices in a child's home or in other settings is required if the child's IEP team determines that the child needs access to those devices in order to receive FAPE.
Definition of Assistive Technology
IDEA defines assistive technology devices and services in the following way:
§300.5 Assistive technology device: any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability.
§300.6 Assistive technology service: any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. Services include:
(a) The evaluation of the needs of a child with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the child in the child's customary environment;
(b) Purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by children with disabilities;
(c) Selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing assistive technology devices;
(d) Coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs;
(e) Training or technical assistance for a child with a, if appropriate, that child's family; and
(f) Training or technical assistance for professionals (providing education or rehabilitation services), employers, or other individuals who provide services to, employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of that child.