Defining AT

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Defining Assistive Technology

What is assistive technology?

“...any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.”

[20 U.S.C. Chapter 33, Section 1401 (250)]


The following Federal Legislations all have impact on the use of computers/technology in education.

bulletDevelopmental Disabilities Act
(DDA, P.L. 106-402), 2000
bulletAssistive Technology Act
(ATA, P.L. 105-394), 1998
bulletEducation of the Handicapped Act
(EHA, P.L. 94-142)
bulletTechnology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act
(Tech Act, P.L. 100-407)
bulletIndividuals with Disabilities Education Act
(IDEA, P.L. 105-17 )

Federal support for special education dates back to 1975. In that year, Congress passed Public Law 94-142, The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA), to ensure equal access by children with disabilities, ages five through twenty-one, to publicly funded educational opportunities and programs from which many of them had, until then, been excluded.

In 1986, Public Law 99-457 reauthorized the EHA, changing its name to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This statute required states to begin planning to serve children, ages three to five, who require special education by 1991. It also established the Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities Program by offering states financial assistance to begin planning to serve children from birth to age three with disabilities.

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Copyright 2006 Drs.Cavanaugh  Last modified: March 06, 2008