by Erica Sanford, MA, CCC-SLP (Speech-Language Pathologist); NWACS Contributor
Book Review: The Practical (and Fun) Guide to Assistive Technology in Public Schools: Building or Improving Your District's AT Team by Christopher R. Bugaj and Sally Norton-Darr (2010)
My colleagues and I found this book to be an invaluable resource as we attempted to reorganize and rebuild our districts’ AT team! The world of AT (assistive technology) is forever changing and evolving, however the foundations for best practices tend to remain pretty solid. This book is a handy (and easy to interpret) guide for school districts on how they can accommodate students with AT needs. It is therapist, administrator, teacher, and even parent friendly.
While reading through The Practical (and Fun) Guide to Assistive Technology in Public Schools, you’ll notice that it covers the basics of defining and understanding exactly what assistive technology is and the laws that come along with it. Additionally, it overviews IEPs and how to include AT in these essential documents. This includes recommendations for where and how to fit assistive technology-related lingo and goals into the IEPs so it makes sense and is easy to interpret for anyone picking up a new IEP or working with a new student.
Do you ever, as a clinician, parent, or teacher, find yourself lost when it comes to conducting or interpreting AT evaluations? This book also covers this process as well! It goes into specifics of interviewing essential providers, observation ideas, and more. I found it instrumental in my practice as a speech-language pathologist working with populations in need of assistive technology. From low-tech to high-tech devices this book pretty much covers it all!
Some of my favorite tips and tidbits I took away from this book included:
- Anything can be considered AT! As long as it is used to “increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities”.
- Look at AT like you would a least restrictive environment; start with simple low-tech options and move up from there if needed. Low tech options and “no frills” devices are easy to implement at school as well as at home!
- Assistive technology is best written as an accommodation in the IEP and not as a specific goal; this allows for changes as needed as the student learns and grows!
I have nothing but positive comments about the information provided in this book and how helpful it has been for advancing my knowledge about AT in the schools! I highly recommend checking it out if you have any questions about the process or basics of AT. It comes in both book and kindle form.