What is Assistive Technology?
Assistive Technology, or AT as it is called, is the term used to describe the tools and devices that assists you to perform a task that could otherwise be difficult or impossible to accomplish.
Its key role is to enable a person to use and enhance their own abilities, and in doing so, encourage and facilitate their independence.
Assistive Technology may be something as simple or “Low-Tech” as a copy holder or wrist support, or more complex and “Hi-Tech” as screen-reading software which reads text aloud.
AT works best when a good match is reached between the user and the technology; as such it is vital to evaluate the specific needs of a person, their challenges and capabilities, in order to provide them with the most suitable tools to assist them with specific tasks.
Training is very important. This can be ongoing and is tailored to meet the needs of the individual or group of students as they move through their academic career.
As AT is a tool, a means to an end, it is not an end to itself. As such User-friendliness is essential. The user should be able to get on with the task in hand and NOT become bogged down and hindered by having to learn very complicated or indeed unnecessary procedures in order to avail of the technology.
AT is not a “stand alone” support, and is used in conjunction with other supports and services.
Availing of Assistive Technology in DIT
DIT has two Assistive Technology Officers, providing AT training and supervision of the AT Rooms for North Side and South side Campus students. There are two Assistive Technology rooms:
- Aungier Street Library
- Bolton Street Library
The Assistive Teachnology Rooms are always open to DSS registered students during library opening hours.
In order to avail of these services students must register with the Disability Service. Registration is necessary for two vital reasons
- In order to glean the necessary information from the student to apply for funding for their individualised support.
- To conduct a needs assessment to ascertain how the Service can best serve the student’s specific needs.
Once a student is registered and has been assessed by both his/her Learning Support Officer (LSO) and the Assistive Technology Officer (ATO), they are fully entitled to used the facilities in the AT rooms and can avail of the AT officers support and training.
The AT Rooms in Aungier Street and Bolton Street Libraries are open for DSS students during Library opening hours. Training and on-to-one appointments with your AT Officer are available by appointment.
Applications are made by the Service for funding based on the student’s registration data and documentation. If full funding is approved the student will be provided with the Assistive Technology equipment and Software that was recommended for them by their ATO.
Examples of AT provided at DIT:
AT and Specific Learning Difficulties (SPLDs)
Students with Dyslexia
Dyslexia is a blanket term and manifests as a spectrum of learning disabilities. It primarily impacts reading, spelling and writing abilities; however, other difficulties have been reported including challenges in processing spoken language.
Areas of difficulty for students include:
- Oral Language
Here at DIT of we have a significant number of students with specific Learning Difficulties. A variety of tools are available to assist these students, including:
- Electronic dictionaries
- Specialised software.
Read&Write Gold is the primary software package designed to provide help to computer users with reading and writing difficulties.
It can read text aloud and help you construct words and sentences.
Other features include advanced spell checking, document scanning, screen reading, Internet tools, pronunciation facilities, and saving text as an audio files.
For Read&Write Video Training guides please visit the TextHelp website here: TextHelp Training Guides
It is essential to remember why Assistive technologies are being used, that is to Aid the student with accomplishing tasks and achieving greater independence. Facilitating and encouraging dependence on a particular technology or facilities that do a job that is well within their own personal abilities is not desirable.
AT and Visual Impairment
A range of equipment and software is available for visually impaired students:
- Reading can be facilitated with the aid of Jaws screen reading software and the use of texts translated into Braille.
- Software such as Kurzweil 1000 is used to scan text onto a computer for students to access. This software reproduces the text aurally for the student to listen to. Zoomtext software is also available; this allows the magnification of text for the visually impaired student.
- Alternative Formats:
Students can also avail of in-house scanning and editing of materials and texts. Content can also be converted and reproduced as a Braille printout for students via our Braille printer.
Disability Support Service Equipment Policy
- The provision of equipment is based on the specific AT needs of the individual student and is contingent on their Needs Assessment, supporting documentation, and funding status
- If computers are supplied we do so purely to facilitate the Assistive Technology needs of the student.
- Any damage or breakages to the equipment must be reported to the Assistive Technology Officer as soon as possible. If the fault is due to misuse by the student, then you the student must bear the cost of repair.
- It is the student's responsibility to make backup copies of all important files.
- All final year students given equipment by the Disability Service and funded by the National Access Office must return the equipment by July 31st.
- All student files must be removed from computers before they are returned. All machines will have the DIT image reinstalled so the Disability Service cannot be responsible for any files lost.
- As this is a College machine you are bound by the DIT Acceptable User Policy which prohibits use of the computer to access or distribute offensive, obscene or threatening material plus any infringement of copyright or the proprietary rights of software.
- Only software needed by students for their courses can be installed on Disability Service computers. If students require specific software they must inform the Assistive Technology Officer.
- All equipment is intended to support the education and Assistive Technology needs of the student and should not be used by other people.
- While using laptops with a power lead students should remove the battery.
- Laptop batteries need to be charged and discharged at least once a week. This is essential to maximise battery life