Matching Individuals’ Strengths and Needs to Assistive Technology

students using different assistive technology devices

Accessibility is often the key to independence. In schools, this means ensuring that students with disabilities have access to the right technology supports and materials they need to succeed—including the use of assistive technology (AT).

Assistive technology is anything that helps a person with a disability do what they want to do. AT can help in the home, at school, at work, and in the community. Examples of assistive technologies include communication devices, adapted writing utensils, specialized calculators, switches, sensory processing supports, braille writers, magnifiers, text-to-speech, speech-to-text, and more.

With students’ varying strengths and needs, it can be difficult to determine the AT devices and features that will work best for each student. SIFTS (Student Inventory for Technology Supports) is a free, web-based survey tool developed primarily to support Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams who need assistance in matching student strengths and needs to AT features. 

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Promoting Access for People Who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Blind, or Visually Impaired

Family with children playing Jenga

Every day—multiple times a day—we receive information. Whether it’s through conversations, alerts, technology, or entertainment, information is everywhere we look. And, information shapes our experiences and our experiences shape us.

“People may not realize it, but eye contact, body language, and other environmental cues all contain information,” explains Christine Croyle, Program Director for the Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness. “When a person’s vision or hearing is affected, part of the information is missing.” 

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Office of Policy Update – August 2019

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The OCALI policy team created the Ohio Interagency Work Group on Autism (IWGA) State Fiscal Year 2019 Report entitled “Supporting Ohioans with Autism Across Agencies, Across the State, Across the Lifespan.” The report, released in July, details the progress being made in Ohio toward the IWGA’s mission to improve the coordination of the state’s efforts to address the service needs of individuals with autism spectrum disorders and the families of those individuals. 

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Creating an Accessible Community at the Ohio State Fair: First Sensory-Friendly Morning Offered

OHIO entrance sign at the Ohio State Fair

The Ohio State Fair—from the rides and attractions to the concerts, shows, and the ever-famous food, the Fair is an annual event and tradition for thousands of Ohioans. At this mecca of endless fun and entertainment, fairgoers experience the bright lights, loud sounds, and distinguishable smells—you know the ones, the mouth-watering smells of funnel cakes and french fries to the unique scents coming from the animal barns. While these sensory-stimulating features may not interfere with most fairgoers’ experience, others’ senses may be heightened by these things, impacting their overall Fair experience.

To ensure all Ohioans can positively experience the Fair, OCALI has partnered with the Ohio State Fair to host the Fair’s first Sensory-Friendly Morning on Wednesday, July 31 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. During these designated hours, fairgoers can experience a sensory-friendly morning where the lights will be lowered and the sounds turned down. For those looking to take a break, they can relax in the OCALI Quiet Room. Located in the Ohio Building, this quiet, air-conditioned space will offer a variety of low-tech and mid-tech solutions to support a variety of sensory needs, including fidgets, weighted lap pads, and other sensory supports.

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July 15-19, 2019 is National Disability Voter Registration Week

RevUp Make the Disability Vote Count logo

Coordinated by the REV UP Campaign, National Disability Voter Registration Week (NDVRW) is a concerted effort to get people with disabilities registered to vote, educated about this year’s election, and prepared to cast a ballot in November. NDVRW is held annually the third week of July, just before the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

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Coming Soon: New Autism Internet Modules (AIM)

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318,220 and counting.

That’s the number of people who have used the Autism Internet Modules (AIM) to date. The AIM modules provide high-quality information and professional development to those who support, instruct, work with, or live with someone with autism.

Each module guides users through case studies, instructional videos, pre- and post-assessments, glossaries, and much more. The modules are designed to build the capacity of school districts and other education agencies to improve their instruction and support for individuals with autism.

Over the past few months, a team of experts has been hard at work creating three new modules to add to the 45 existing modules. Like the other AIM modules, the new modules will be available at no cost and users can earn graduate credit (for a fee) or professional development certificates.

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OCALI Office of Policy Update – June 2019

Office of Policy logo

With the state’s biennial budget in the midst of debate, the OCALI Policy Team has been hard at work making sure disability is included in the discussion. One example is a presentation provided to the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Caucus, a group of Ohio legislators who joined together to focus on policies impacting Ohioans with disabilities. The team provided a high-level overview of Ohio’s DD system as a baseline educational session for these legislators. You can view a copy of this presentation here: Ohio’s Developmental Disability System (In Twenty Minutes or Less…From 10,000 Feet) presented to the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Caucus April 16, 2019.

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