Technology integration is essential in all classrooms, including special education classrooms and programs. Students with disabilities or exceptional needs can benefit from assistive or adaptive technologies. These benefits are outlined by Lahm and Morrissette (1994) and include, but are not limited to organization, note taking, writing assistance, productivity, access to reference materials, cognitive assistance, and materials modification (Behrmann, 1995). Since then, numerous other ways of assisting students have emerged in the form of more modern assistive technologies. This site will help you more fully understand what assistive/adaptive technologies are, how they are beneficial to students, and ways you can incorporate them into your classroom to more fully engage all students in learning.
You can find Behrmann’s (1995) full article here:

The following slides were accessed online from the Family Center on Technology and Disability. To find more information about this organization and how they can help, click here: This website has numerous tips and resources for integrating technology to assist individuals with disabilities.

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First, let’s take a look at what assistive technology really is:

  • Assistive Technology is any piece of equipment or device that may be used by a person with a disability to perform specific tasks, improve functional capabilities, and become independent (Netherton & Deal, 2006, p. 11).
  • Assistive technology extends the abilities of an individual in ways that provide physical and sensory access (Roblyer & Doering, 2010, p. 408).
  • According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), assistive technology is an 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 (Hopkins, 2006, p. 12).

For Hopkins full article Assistive Technology: 10 Things to Know:

Why incorporate assistive technology in my classroom? What is the relative advantage for doing so?

AT benefits ALL students. Every teacher knows that every student deserves and has the right to a quality education. However, it takes time, effort, and money to implement strategies above and beyond traditional classroom instruction. Even though there are barriers to implementing AT, teachers should keep in mind that even if it helps only one student in a classroom, the extra effort can make all the difference to that one child. It may mean that he or she is able to participate in a learning activity or practice a skill they never thought possible. Not only students with disabilities can benefit from types of assistive technologies--students at risk and students with gifts and talents can also be supported through the use of AT.

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Assistive technology helps students learn and grow along with others and gives them the ability to experience much of what would be impossible with out it. Technology makes everyone's lives easier, but for students with disabilities, assistive technology can make learning more engaging and effective than ever thought possible. These eight tips were written for educators by Penny Reed (2007). For a full copy of her article about assistive technology, click this link
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Now that I know assistive technology is truly beneficial to all learners, what are some ways I can incorporate it into my classroom?

Please take a look at these great ways for incorporating assistive technology into your classroom to help all learners grow and develop through engaging in their own learning (Roblyer & Doering, 2010, p. 413).

Areas with Adaptive/Assistive Technology Needs

For students with mild to severe disabilities:

  • Reading skill software, text-to-speech software, interactive storybooks (reading)
  • Voice recognition and word prediction software (writing)
  • Graphing software, drills, games, and tutorials software (math)
  • Videos and certain software can help students practice functional skills and behaviors


For students with physical disabilities:

  • Provide alternative methods of accessing computer hardware
  • Determine best placement of adaptive technologies
  • Monitor function to promote maximum participation

For students with sensory disabilities:

  • Use sensor technologies to assist movement
  • Use built-in computer screen magnification
  • Use FM amplification systems


For at-risk students:

  • Locate software and websites that provide powerful and motivation opportunities
  • Utilize electronic quizzes and other materials that provide immediate feedback


For gifted and talented students:

  • Locate starting point web pages to launch them to content with appropriate challenges
  • Provide ways for self-directed learning
  • Provide opportunities to use multimedia presentations, web page design, and electronic portfolios

Behrmann, M. (1995). Assistive Technology for Students with Mild Disabilities. ERIC Document ED378755, 1-7.
Hopkins, J. (2006). Assistive technology: Ten things to know. Library Media Connection, 25(1), 12-14.
Netherton, D., & Deal, W. (2006). Assistive Technology in the Classroom. Technology Teacher, 66(1), 10-15.
Roblyer, M. D. & Doering, A. H. (2010). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.