Assistive Technology Center (ATC)
At the NYS School for the Blind Assistive Technology focuses on the following skill development:
- Computer access skills: Keyboarding, mice, switches, Internet access
- Software use: Word Processing, Educational software, braille translation software, magnification, screen readers, and more
- Digital book formats and devices
- Electronic braille devices
- Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) devices and hand held magnifiers
- Equipment to enhance postitioning and physcial limitations
Assistive technology by definition means any piece of equipment and service that can improve functional capabilities of a child with a disability. All therapists and classroom teachers utilize various assistive technologies that are appropriate for the students they work with. Services provided within the ATC focus on computer access, input and output processes, accessible text formats, and other technology devices that enhance functional reading and writing as a fundamental communication tool for students with visual impairments. The ATC houses a variety of keyboard styles, switches, mice, computers, screen reader and magnification software, scanning and reading devices, and so on, as a means to achieve greater independence with computer access. Assistive technology tools help augment a person’s strengths, and provide alternate modes to complete tasks, and improve a student's ability to achieve their IEP goals.
A team approach is used to determine the student’s strengths and needs between the ATC staff, the student, classroom teachers, and other therapists as necessary. ATC staff is familiar with regular and assistive technology devices and software. They provide evaluations and instruction for assistive technology in consultation with a student’s teacher, and other therapists. The ATC is located in Severne Hall, Room 206.
All AT is not the same. Devices referred to as “no-tech” often require minimal or no training in their use, such as non-skid surfaces, grease boards, markers, large lined paper. “Low-tech” devices are low-level electronics or technology such as talking watches, timers, and calculators, voice-recording devices for note taking. “High-tech” AT includes computers, specialized software, PDA’s, and digitized books, video capture devices, and so on, that may require training to use effectively.
Technology advancements are frequent and most are very expensive. As a result it can be difficult for many to stay aware of the latest specialized devices and software. To use technology it is necessary for a student to receive training to learn to use each type effectively.
Many related services departments at NYSSB utlilize various assistive technology that help individual children progress with skill development. The ATC focuses on high tech tools, often revolving around the use of a computer. The center offers a central location with knowledgeable staff, to try various technology options with many different students, to then better determine what may be the most productive option for our student's.