TermDefinitionTags
Abbreviation Expansion SoftwareSoftware that automatically "expands" a word, or phrase, that the user has pre-stored under an abbreviated form. (For example, the software could be programmed to expand a typed first and last initial into a complete name. Abbreviation expansion software is designed to reduce the number of keystrokes....A 
AccessStrategy, method, and site of contact between the person and the technology....A 
Access MethodThe action by which the person operates the assistive technology....A 
Access UtilityAn access utility is a software program that modifies a standard keyboard to simplify operation of the keyboard, replace the mouse, substitute visual cues for sound signals, or add sound cues to keystrokes. Example: In the case of a young person with a mobility impairment, an access utility is important because it can alter the way keys on the keyboard respond to touch. For example, Jimmy, a young boy with muscular dystrophy, has difficulty pressing the keys quickly; he lingers a bit longer on each key than necessary, or inadvertently presses multiple keys in-stead of the intended key. Altering the relay time on these keys can enable Jimmy to process information more effectively when using his keyboard. Many basic modifications can be made through software that already exists on your computer. Altering font size, color contrast, and adding or modifying audio alerts can all be done without purchasing additional software. “Sticky keys” are another very useful modification tool that c...A 
AccommodationIn the context of education, an accommodation is a change in the format or presentation of educational materials so that a student with a disability can complete the same assignment as other students. Accommodations can also include changes in setting, timing, scheduling, and/or response mechanisms of tests. Accommodations include: audiotapes of textbooks, tape recorders for capturing classroom lessons, calculators, allowing a student to submit an illustration of key concepts rather than a written report, providing reproduced copies of textbook pages that can be marked up and highlighted, and assignment of a “study buddy” or notetaker. There are dozens of accommodations that can change a student’s experience from frustration to success if teachers, aides, and parents are creative. A list of possible accommodations is provided by The PACER Center and can be downloaded from their Special Education Rights Publications page (Publication Code PHP-c49) athttp://www.pacer.org/publicatio...A 
Activities of Daily LivingActivities of Daily Living (ADL): Frequently used in national surveys as a way to measure self-care abilities in daily life, ADLs include basic tasks such as eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, getting in and out of a chair or bed, and getting around while at home. National surveys also measure another level of self-care functioning, Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs), which include activities such as doing everyday household chores, preparing meals, conducting necessary business, using the telephone, shopping, and getting around outside the home....A 
Adaptive TechnologiesAdaptive technologies are a type of assistive technology that include customized systems that help individual students move, communicate, and control their environments. Adaptive technologies are designed specifically for persons with disabilities; these devices would seldom be used by non-disabled persons. Examples include augmentative communication devices, powered wheelchairs and environmental control systems. These assistive technologies are not used exclusively for education purposes, and can be used in all of the child’s environments....A 
Alternative Access/Input DeviceAn alternative access/input device allows individuals to control their computers using tools other than a standard keyboard or pointing device. Examples include alternative keyboards, electronic pointing devices, sip-and-puff systems, wands and sticks, joysticks, and trackballs. Example: A “modified mouse” such as a joystick or trackball can make a world of difference to a child with limited mobility. While using an ordinary mouse would be difficult for someone with limited refined motor skills, the design of a joystick would allow him to have more complete control of his Web surfing experience....A 
Alternative KeyboardAlternative keyboards may be different from standard keyboards in size, shape, layout, or function. They offer individuals with special needs greater efficiency, control, and comfort. Example: Alejandro is a child with cognitive disabilities. The traditional QWERTY key- board is confusing, so his mom replaces it with a keyboard that lists letters A-Z in big, bold letters and doesn’t contain a lot of “extra” keys. This makes focusing on spelling and typing words a lot easier for him....A 
Ambulation AidsDevices that help people walk upright, including canes, crutches, and walkers....A 
Americans with Disabilities ActThe American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (PL101-336) prohibits employers from discriminating against people with disabilities and makes such discrimination a civil rights violation. Providers of public services, schools, public buildings and public transportation services also must provide accessibility to people with disabilities....A 
Architectural AdaptationsArchitectural adaptations are structural fabrications or remodeling in the home, work site, or other area. Examples that remove or reduce physical barriers for an individual with a disability include ramps, lifts, lighting, altering counter top heights and widening door frames....A 
Articulated Forearm SupportAn articulated forearm support follows the user’s movements and drastically reduces the muscle work involved in sustained keying or mouse use....A 
Assistive Technology DeviceAn assistive technology (AT) device includes any item, piece of equipment, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functioning of individuals with disabilities. It may be purchased commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized. The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of such a device. Example: Almost every example in this glossary is an example of an AT device. From low tech, such as a pen or pencil grip; to high tech, such as a computer that responds to touch and allows a child to communicate more effectively, the tools fall within the category of AT devices....A 
Assistive Technology ServiceAn assistive technology service is one that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. Examples include evaluating, selecting, buying, designing, fitting, customizing, maintaining, repairing, replacing, coordinating, and training of students, teachers and family members....A 
Augmentive Communication SystemAn augmentative communication system is any system that increases or improves communication of individuals with receptive or expressive communication impairments. The system can include speech, gestures, sign language, symbols, synthesized speech, dedicated communication devices, microcomputers, and other communication systems....A 
Auxiliary Aids and ServicesUnder the Americans With Disabilities Act (see definition above), professionals and organizations must communicate as effectively with people with disabilities as they do with others. Auxiliary aids and services assist in this effort. Auxiliary aids may include taped texts, interpreters or other effective methods of making materials usually delivered orally available to students with hearing impairments; readers in libraries for students with visual impairments; classroom equipment adapted for use by students with manual impairments; and other similar services and actions....A 
Battery InterrupterA battery interface control designed to create switch compatibility for non-adapted toys or battery-operated devices for individuals with physical disabilities. It consists of a cable with a two layer copper plate at one end and a jack at the other. The copper plate fits in the battery compartment at either end of the battery and "interrupts" the flow of electricity. When a switch is plugged into the jack, operation of the switch will allow the electric current to flow like it normally would in the toy or device. Typically available for battery sizes "AA", "C" or "D", with a 1/8-inch mono phone jack....B 
BrailleThe most widely used tactile substitution device for persons with visual impairments. Each Braille character consists of a cell of either six or eight dots. The seventh and eighth cells are used for tabulation, underlining, and other special functions associated with computer displays and text editing....B 
Braille DisplayA Braille display is a tactile device consisting of a row of special ‘soft’ cells. A soft cell has 6 or 8 pins made of metal or nylon; the pins are controlled electronically to move up and down to display characters as they appear on the display of the source system - usually a computer or Braille note taker. They can also be used for advanced math work and for computer coding. A number of cells are placed next to each other to form a soft or refreshable Braille line. As the little pins of each cell pop up and down, they form a line of Braille text that can be read by touch....B 
Braille Embossers and TranslatorsA Braille embosser transfers computer-generated text into embossed Braille output. Translation programs convert text, scanned in or generated via standard word processing programs, into Braille that can be printed on the embosser....
CaptioningA text transcript of the audio portion of multimedia products, such as video and television that is synchronized to the visual events taking place on screen....C 
Digitized SpeechDigitized Speech is speech that has been digitally recorded for later play-back. As it is a recording, the quality is good and easy to understand. Digitized speech may be used in CD-Roms for talking stories, in encyclopedias, and in software packages where teachers and students are able to record sounds, words and sentences themselves. Digitized Speech has a finite, predetermined vocabulary and so does not offer full access to mainstream software....D 
Due Process HearingYou may request a due process hearing at any time if you are unable to resolve your differences with the school. A due process hearing is more formal than mediation, and the parties generally are represented by attorneys. An impartial hearing officer hears both sides of the dispute and issues a written decision within 45 calendar days of the hearing request. If either the parents or the school disagrees with the decision of the hearing officer, the decision may be appealed through the court system....D 
Due Process HearingYou may request a due process hearing at any time if you are unable to resolve your differences with the school. A due process hearing is more formal than mediation, and the parties generally are represented by attorneys. An impartial hearing officer hears both sides of the dispute and issues a written decision within 45 calendar days of the hearing request. If either the parents or the school disagrees with the decision of the hearing officer, the decision may be appealed through the court system....D 
Electronic Pointing DevicesElectronic pointing devices allow the user to control the cursor on the screen using ultrasound, an infrared beam, eye movements, nerve signals, or brain waves. When used with an on-screen keyboard, electronic pointing devices also allow the user to enter text and data. Example: Electronic pointing devices might look a bit like something from the space age, but the technology is life-changing for people with little or no mobility. Take the case of Vanya, a teenager with a traumatic brain injury. Vanya’s ocular movement was tracked and registered. She is now able to use a device that lets her interact with her computer, and thereby control her environment, solely with eye movement....E 
Environmental control units (ECUs) are systems that enable individuals to control various electronic devices in their environment through a variety of alternative access methods, such as switch or voiEnvironmental control units (ECUs) are systems that enable individuals to control various electronic devices in their environment through a variety of alternative access methods, such as switch or voice access. ECUs can control lights, televisions, telephones, music players, door openers, security systems, and kitchen appliances. These systems can also be referred to as Electronic Aids to Daily Living (EADL)....E 
Eye Gaze BoardAn Eye Gaze Board is a clear Plexiglas board that is used as a simple communication device. Pictures are mounted at strategic areas on the board and the user is asked to look at the picture they want to choose....E 
FAPEThis abbreviation stands for "free and appropriate education." It is the term used in the IDEA law, which states that school systems must provide children with disabilities with special education services and accommodations (including AT) at no cost to the parents. The law does not say what is considered an “appropriate” education, but other references within the law imply that children should be taught in the most typical classroom setting possible....F 
Individualized Education Program (IEP)Each public school child who receives special education and related services must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Each IEP must be designed for one student and must be a truly individualized document. The IEP includes such information as present levels of functioning, future goals, and services to be provided. The IEP creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel, and students (when appropriate) to work together to improve educational results for children with disabilities....
Individuals with Disabilities EducationThe Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was initially passed in 1975 as P.L. 94-142. That Law, known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, or the EHA, guaranteed that eligible children and youth with disabilities would have a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) available to them, designed to meet their unique educational needs. P.L. 94-142 has been amended many times since passing in 1975, most recently in 2004. For more information about IDEA, you can visit the following website:http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSERS/Policy/IDEA/index.html....I 
Information Technology (IT)Information technology includes any product used to acquire, store, manipulate, or transmit information, such as computers, multimedia, telecommunications, copy machines, and the Internet....I 
Infrared Sender/ReceiverAn Infrared Sender/Receiver is a device commonly found in an environmental control unit (ECU). An infrared signal is sent to the control unit, which in turn sends an infrared signal to the appliance. These are usually small and portable and vary in size and shape. They can be used in different areas of the same room, but the remote must be aimed directly at the control box, with nothing in its path, for the signal to be received....I 
JoystickA joystick may be used as an alternate input device. Joysticks that can be plugged into the computer’s mouse port can control the cursor on the screen. Other joysticks plug into game ports and depend on software that is designed to accept joystick control. See also: Alternative Access/Input Device....J 
Keyboard AdditionsA variety of accessories have been designed to make keyboards more accessible. Keyguards are hard plastic covers with holes for each key. Someone with an unsteady finger or using a pointing device can avoid striking unwanted keys by using a keyguard. Moisture guards are thin sheets of plastic that protect keyboards from spills and saliva. Alternative labels add visual clarity or tactile information to the keys. Example: When John, a young man with muscular dystrophy, doesn’t use the keyguard, he often clicks letters that he doesn’t want. The clearly defined spaces between keys, provided by the keyguards, helps him select the keys he wants....K 
Keyboard EmulatorA keyboard emulator is a device that is connected to or resides in a computer and imitates the computer’s keyboard in function and performance....K 
LREThe abbreviation LRE stands for “least restrictive environment.” This means that to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities are educated with children who are not disabled. Removal from the regular educational environment occurs only when a student cannot be successfully educated in that setting even with supplementary aids and services....K 
MediationIn the context of AT, mediation is a process to resolve disagreements between parents and school personnel. It is provided at no cost to you or the school district. Both parties must agree to mediation. A neutral trained mediator will facilitate the meeting to help both parties resolve their disagreements. Mediation is more structured than conciliation but less formal than a due process hearing....M 
Mobility and Transportation AidMobility and transportation aids include products that help mobility-impaired persons move within their environment, and give them independence in personal transportation. These products include standing or walking aids, transfer aids, stair lifts, walkers, scooters, wheelchairs and three-wheeled chairs, adapted bikes and tricycles, car seats or beds, stretchers, patient chairs, ramps, recliners, strollers, travel chairs, wheelchair trays, driving controls, seat belts, vehicle conversions, patient and wheelchair lifts, wheelchair loaders/carriers and wheelchair restraint systems....M 
Onscreen KeyboardOnscreen keyboards are software images of a standard or modified keyboard placed on the computer screen by software. The keys are selected by a mouse, touch screen, trackball, joystick, switch, or electronic pointing device. Example: Brad, a young boy with limited mobility and severe verbal impairments, uses onscreen keyboards to communicate with those around him. Through these keyboards (both pre-formatted keyboards and those designed by his parents to meet his specific needs) and selecting options on the screen, he is able to relay concepts, needs and thoughts more easily....O 
Optical Character Recognition & ScannerOptical character recognition (OCR) software works with a scanner to convert images from a printed page into a standard computer file. With OCR software, the resulting computer file can be edited. Pictures and photographs do not require OCR software to be manipulated. Example: Pierre is a high school student who was diagnosed with Stargardt disease (inherited juvenile macular degeneration) at age 10. He has been legally blind since age 12. Much of his schoolwork is available electronically, and he uses his screen reader to scan the text. Often, however, documents are only available in hard copy. These documents are scanned into his computer using a basic scanner with OCR software. The “graphic” image from the printed page then becomes electronic text....O 
Optical Character Recognition & ScannerOptical character recognition (OCR) software works with a scanner to convert images from a printed page into a standard computer file. With OCR software, the resulting computer file can be edited. Pictures and photographs do not require OCR software to be manipulated. Example: Pierre is a high school student who was diagnosed with Stargardt disease (inherited juvenile macular degeneration) at age 10. He has been legally blind since age 12. Much of his schoolwork is available electronically, and he uses his screen reader to scan the text. Often, however, documents are only available in hard copy. These documents are scanned into his computer using a basic scanner with OCR software. The “graphic” image from the printed page then becomes electronic text....O 
Pointing and Typing AidsA pointing or typing aid is typically a wand or stick used to strike keys on the keyboard. They are most commonly worn on the head, held in the mouth, strapped to the chin, or held in the hand. Example: For Kwame, a young man with severe spinal cord injury and no mobility from his head down, pointing and typing aids allow him to interface with his computer. His aid allows him to navigate around his computer. When he moves his head, this device substitutes as a mouse and allows him to perform standard activities, such as playing games or taking tests, and even more advanced activities like drawing....P 
Prosthetics and OrthoticsProsthetics and orthotics include replacement, substitution or augmentation of missing or malfunctioning body parts with artificial limbs or other orthotic aids. This includes splints, braces, foot orthosis, helmets, restraints, and supports....P 
Screen Enlargement ProgramsScreen enlargement programs magnify a section of the screen, increasing the visibility for users with limited vision. Most screen enlargement programs have variable magnification levels and some offer text-to-speech options....P 
Screen ReaderA screen reader is a software program that uses synthesized speech to “speak” graphics and text out loud. This type of program is used by people with limited vision or blindness. Example: Teri has been blind from birth. A screen reader allows her to access visual information on a computer screen. A piece of software installed in her computer goes “behind the scenes” and reads the text that exists behind the graphic Web pages that sighted people read....S 
Seating and Positioning AidsSeating and positioning aids offer modifications to wheelchairs or other seating systems. They provide greater body stability, upright posture or reduction of pressure on the skin surface. Equipment includes wheelchair cushions, trunk/head supports, modular seating, and seating lifts....S 
Switches and Switch SoftwareSwitches offer an alternative method to provide input into a computer when it is not possible to use a more direct access method, such as a standard keyboard or mouse. Switches come in various sizes, shapes, colors, methods of activation, and placement options. An interface device and software program are usually required to connect the switch to the computer and interpret the operation of the switch. Some software programs have been developed specifically for use with a switch and can employ on-screen scanning. With on-screen scanning, the computer highlights the options available to the user depending upon what action he or she wants the computer to take. The highlights are done either by sound, visual cue or both. When a visual or auditory prompt indicates a specific keyboard or mouse function, the user activates the switch and the desired function occurs. Other programs have built-in options to allow switch use. Many standard software programs can be accessed through a switch with ...S 
Talking Word ProcessorsTalking word processors (TWP) are writing software programs that provide audio feedback as the student writes. As each letter is typed and each word is written, the TWP will “speak” it back to the user. Many of these inexpensive writing programs also incorporate powerful tools for reading. Students with learning disabilities often find that having written material read aloud helps them to better edit, comprehend and organize their projects. Once a file (i.e. story from a book, assignment, article or typed information) is imported into a talking word processor, the text can be read aloud to the student. These TWP programs offer other adjustments as well, such as enlarging the size of the text, and changing the color of the foreground, background, and highlighting box, to assist students in following along as the text is read....T 
Touch ScreensA touch screen is a device placed on or built into the computer monitor that allows direct activation of the computer, or selection of a program, through a touch on the screen....T