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Family Information Guide to Assistive Technology

Section 6: How to Learn More

The world of assistive technology is constantly changing. New tools are invented and old tools are upgraded. It can be difficult to stay current with the latest in AT and determine which tools are best for your child. There are many ways to keep up with developments in technology and learn more about the law, writing an IEP, using AT devices at school, or finding funding. The majority of the information providers listed below are accessible via the Internet. If you do not have Internet access at home, it is likely that your public library and your child’s school library can provide access to these websites. We have also provided mailing addresses and telephone numbers where possible. Remember – the goal of everyone working in this field is to help you and your family.

National Sources of AT Information

Family Center on Technology and Disability
The Family Center (FCTD) provides a range of AT resources to organizations that work with families of children with disabilities. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, all of the Center’s resources are free and may be accessed directly by families via its website. Resources include two searchable databases: (1) AT-related articles, guides, information sheets, websites, and training materials and (2) information about organizations from which families may receive information and services. The FCTD hosts month-long online discussions led by national experts on topics such as AT funding, inclusion, assessment and evaluation, and other relevant topics. The Center produces a monthly newsletter featuring interviews with AT experts and annual CD-ROMs containing all of the AT content on its website. The Family Center offers a Summer Institute on Assistive Technology, which may be taken for Continuing Education Credit.

Family Center on Technology & Disability
1825 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009
Website: www.fctd.info
Email: fctd@aed.org
Voice: 202-884-8068
Fax: 202-884-8441

Alliance for Technology Access Resource Centers
The Alliance for Technology Access (ATA) is a national network of resource centers that focus on technology for people with disabilities. The services provided by the centers vary from state to state, but many offer assistive technology assessment, consultation, training, demonstration, lending programs, referrals, and general information. For a list of resource centers in your state, contact ATA headquarters and ask them to refer you to centers in your area or refer to the ATA website below for a list of national centers.

Alliance for Technology Access - National Office
1304 Southpoint Blvd., Suite 240
Petaluma, CA 94954
Website: www.ataccess.org
Email: ATAinfo@ATAccess.org
Voice: 707-778-3011
Fax: 707-765-2080
TTY: 707-778-3015

State Technology Act Projects
State Technology Act projects are funded by the federal Assistive Technology Act of 2004. The services of these projects vary from state to state, but many offer state-specific information and referral, training, resources, and information on legislation and funding for assistive technology.

For a complete list of “Tech Act” projects in each state, you can visit the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs (ATAP) at http://www.ataporg.org/states_listing.html.

In addition, NICHCY compiles disability-related resources in each state, and creates State Resource Sheets. The sheets help you locate organizations and agencies within your state that address disability-related issues. You can contact them by phone at 800-695-0285 V/TTY or online at: http://nichcy.org/state-organization-search-by-state.

Parent Training and Information Centers

Each state is home to at least one Parent Training and Information Center (PTI). Parent Centers serve families of children and young adults from birth to age 22 with all disabilities: physical, cognitive, emotional, and learning. They help families obtain appropriate education and services for their children with disabilities; work to improve education results for all children; train and inform parents and professionals on a variety of topics; resolve problems between families and schools or other agencies; and connect children with disabilities to community resources that address their needs. To find a Parent Center in your state or region, contact:

Technical Assistance Alliance for Parent Centers - National Office
8161 Normandale Blvd.
Bloomington, MN 55437
Website: www.taalliance.org
Voice: 952-838-9000 or 1-888-248-0822
TTY: 952-838-0190

U.S. Department of Education
The Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) is comprised of the Office of the Assistant Secretary (OAS) and three program components: the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), and the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). OSER’s reports and resources, including toll-free telephone numbers, can be accessed at: www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/osep/index.html.

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has its own website at: www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/osep/index.html. Families can learn more about the new IDEA legislation and link to many of the resources discussed in this guide via OSEP’s website.

Additional Websites with AT Information

The websites listed below offer information about AT products. Some offer basic AT training material as well.

The ABLEDATA website contains a searchable database of information on more than 30,000 assistive technology products. The database contains detailed descriptions of each product, including price and vendor contact information. The database also contains information on non-commercial prototypes, customized and one-of-a-kind products, and do-it-yourself designs.

8630 Fenton Street, Suite 930
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Website: http://www.abledata.com
Voice: 800-227-0216

The Assistivetech.net website offers a wide variety of assistive technology and disability-related information, including a searchable AT database that is designed to help you target solutions, determine costs, and link to vendors that sell products. Target audiences include people with disabilities, family members, service providers, educators, and employers.

Georgia Tech Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access
490 Tenth Street, NW
Atlanta, GA 30332-0156
Website: www.assistivetech.net
Email: info@assistivetech.net
Voice/TTY: 800-726-9119 or 404-894-1414
Fax: 404-894-9320

AT Online Training Project
Developed by the University of Buffalo’s Center for Technology, this website provides AT-related information under the following headings: Assistive Technology Basics; Tutorials; Assistive Technology Decision Making; and Resources. The site is easily navigable and features large print. Website content is aimed at parents, caregivers and teachers who are beginning their introduction to technology use by children with special needs.

Assistive Technology Training Online Project
University at Buffalo -
Center for Assistive Technology
515 Kimball Tower
Buffalo , NY 14214
Website: http://www.atto.buffalo.edu
Email: atto-webmaster@buffalo.edu
Voice: 716-829-3141
Fax: 716-829-3217

The Infinitec website is a joint effort of the United Cerebral Palsy Association (UCP) of Chicago and UCP Associates in Washington, D.C. The AT-related information on the site is useful not only to those with Cerebral Palsy, but to a wide range of families and practitioners. The site is organized in four sections: independent living, learning, playing, and working.

UCP Chicago - Infinitec
160 N.Wacker Drive
Chicago , Illinois 60606
Website: http://www.infinitec.org
Voice: 312-368-0380

While the sites above contain a wide range of disability-related information, you may want to research your child’s specific disabilit(y/ies) in greater depth. Using Internet “search engines” can be useful for such research. Using a search engine is easy. Simply type one of the following addresses in the “address” line near the top of your Internet screen and click enter.

When the search engine site appears on your screen, type key words that best describe the topic you are interested in. If you are unsure about the spelling of a particular disability or AT term, the following website includes extensive glossaries of disability-specific terms: http://www.fapeonline.org/terms.htm

The National Institutes of Health website - http://health.nih.gov - includes an A-Z listing of health topics, including many disability terms. The NIH site provides a great deal of information about each disability as well.

Assistive Technology Publications

Computer and Web Resources for People with Disabilities, 4th Edition
With a foreword written by Stephen Hawking, this updated version of ATA’s popular resource offers reader-friendly information on a wide range of computer hardware and software issues. It provides worksheets and checklists to help families and others construct an assistive technology plan. It also offers a “technology toolbox” designed to help match functional abilities and appropriate technologies. The book is available in paperback for $24.95 and spiral-bound for $31.95. Ordering information is found on ATA’s website, identified below.

Alliance for Technology Access
1304 Southpoint Blvd., Suite 240
Petaluma, CA 94954
Website: http://www.ataccess.org
Voice: 707-778-3011
TTY: 707-778-3015
Fax: 707-765-2080

Family Guide to Assistive Technology
Parents, Let’s Unite for Kids (PLUK) is a Montana-based organization formed by parents of children with disabilities and chronic illnesses. Although this resource dates to 1997, much of its information remains useful. It can be read online at www.pluk.org/AT1.html.

Journal of Special Education Technology
Published by the Council for Exceptional Children, JSET is a professional journal that presents up-to-date information about issues, research, policy, and practice related to the use of technology in the field of special education. The online version is available free of charge and is easy to navigate. The print version is available for $40 per year.

The Council for Exceptional Children
1110 North Glebe Road, Suite 300
Arlington, VA, 22201-5704
Website: http://www.cec.sped.org/
Voice: 703-620-3663 or 1-888-CEC-SPED
TTY: 703-264-9446
Fax: 703-264-9494

Computer Monitor Newsletter
A publication of the PACER Center, this free quarterly newsletter is available in print or online. The newsletter features articles on assistive technology products, strategies for implementation of assistive technology, AT training opportunities, and success stories about individual AT users. Target audiences are parents, educators, and people with disabilities.

PACER Simon Technology Center
8161 Normandale Blvd
Minneapolis, MN 55437
Website: http://www.pacer.org/stc/
Voice: 952-838-9000

AT Journal
This free monthly e-newsletter is published by the AT Network and California Assistive Technology Systems. The journal features articles on new developments in technology, success stories, legislative updates, and more. You can access the journal via the website or you can register to receive it via email.

Website: http://atnetworkblog.blogspot.com/
Voice: 800-390-2699
TDD: 800-900-0706

Exceptional Parent Magazine
This monthly print and online magazine features articles and resources on assistive technology from a parent perspective. The online version is free but requires that users complete a registration form. The print version is available for $35 annually.

P.O. Box 2079
Marion OH, 43306

AT Information on Video, CD and DVD

I Can Soar: How technology helps students take off
National Center for Technology Innovation, 2003
Available as a free Web download or on captioned CD-ROM, “I Can Soar” is a 26-minute, documentary-style video with supporting materials that describes how four students with disabilities use assistive technology (AT). The video shows assistive tools being effectively integrated into the students’ lives at home, at school, and in the community. Family members, teachers, therapists, administrators, and others describe methods for choosing AT solutions, putting them into use, and ensuring they work for each student.

To access online: http://www.nationaltechcenter.org/index.php/category/i-can-soar/
To order the CD-ROM, contact:

The Council for Exceptional Children
1110 North Glebe Road, Suite 300
Arlington, VA 22201
Voice: 703-620-3660 or 888-232-7733
TTY: 866-915-5000 (toll-free)
Fax: 703-264-9494
E-mail: services@cec.sped.org

Freedom Machines
Freedom Machines, a public television program and national outreach campaign, looks at society’s beliefs about disability through the lens of assistive technology. Viewers meet a cross-section of America’s population—a few of the 54 million Americans with disabilities—whose lives are being transformed with the help of new technologies.

To order a copy of the program and to learn about the national outreach campaign, go to http://www.freedommachines.com.

Conferences on AT Products and Services

For those interested, there are a number of national conferences that focus specifically on assistive technology. The largest are:

Assistive Technology Industry Association
526 Davis Street, Suite 217
Evanston IL 60201
Website: www.ATIA.org
Phone: 847-869-2842

Closing the Gap
P.O. Box 68
Henderson MN 56044
Website: www.closingthegap.com
Phone: 612-248-3294
Fax: 612-248-3810

Technology and Persons with Disabilities Annual Conference
California State University, Northridge (CSUN)
Center on Disabilities
18111 Nordoff Street
Northridge CA 91330-8340
Website: http://www.csun.edu/cod/
E-mail: ltm@csun.edu
Voice/TTY: 818-885-2578
Fax: 818-677-4929

There are, in addition, many online discussions and forums that can provide access to national experts and others in the field, from the comfort of your home computer. The Family Center on Technology and Disability offers six month-long discussions per year, featuring experts on a range of AT subjects. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Projects, they are free of charge to the public. To view archived discussions and participate in a current or upcoming discussion, visit http://www.fctd.info.


This document was produced under U.S. Department of Education Grant No. H327F030002. No official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any product, commodity, service or enterprise mentioned in this report or on Web sites referred to in this report is intended or should be inferred.


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