What Is an Assistive Technology Assessment?

Angela Farrer

An assistive technology assessment is an evaluation of someone with documented disabilities to determine which specific types of assistive technology would best help him perform their jobs, schoolwork, and daily activities. This kind of assistive technology testing usually documents the type and severity of the existing disability. It also may examine each individual's current level of education, past difficulties with certain tasks, and goals for improvement through the use of assistive technology. An assistive technology assessment for software use usually includes an evaluation of existing computer skills and possible suggestions for addressing any deficiencies in this area. Assistive technology testing often consists of an interview with a disability specialist, as well as a written or practical exam for evaluation purposes.

Braille tablets are a type of assistive technology.
Braille tablets are a type of assistive technology.

Various assistive technology devices include a range of devices from modified computer keyboards to braille tablets to microphone headsets for speech-recognition software. One of the aims of an assistive technology assessment is to determine which devices will successfully compensate for certain physical limitations or learning disabilities. Some disability assessment administrators report that matching the best device to the right person's needs and goals can be a matter of trial and error. People generally need to feel comfortable using assistive technology devices and confident that the technology will help them accomplish tasks without complications or inconveniences.

Another frequent objective of an assistive technology assessment is to assign the appropriate adaptive software programs to clients who would benefit from using them. Students at all grade levels often use assistive technology software to help them overcome the obstacles of learning disabilities, such as dyslexia or dyscalculia. Programs that help with correct reading comprehension generally have good results with users who have trouble recognizing letters or symbols. Text-to-speech software is frequently recommended for these kinds of reading difficulties, and the main challenge with many assessments is matching students to the right software program for their existing skill levels.

Many special education experts recommend specific approaches to each assistive technology assessment. Many schools and colleges have disability services specialists who make an assessment a collaborative effort between students and special education faculty. This type of evaluation is generally more successful when it includes several ongoing assessments of progress. A single meeting is usually not sufficient enough to address different individual needs for assistive technology. When an assessment test provides the opportunity for people to try out different devices and software packages, they have the chances to ask questions and receive further feedback.

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