We have included some general accessibility information for reference and education.
NMTAP can help you find services, contacts, and appropriate resources related to assistive technologies.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some of your questions regarding AT in general, AT in educational settings, and AT in vocational settings are included below:
- What is Assistive Technology (AT)?
- What is the difference between AT devices and AT services?
- Is Assistive Technology only for people with severe disabilities
- What is the AT Act?
General AT Information
What is Assistive Technology (AT)?
Assistive technology (AT) includes devices or services that help a person with a disability complete any activity of daily life involved in work, education, and/or simply living in the community.
Assistive technology includes all sorts ofHow do I identify the kind of Assistive Technology I need items you might already be using, such as: hearing aids, closed caption TV, large-type books, wheelchairs, adapted utensils, remote controlled on/off switches, and computers.
What is the difference between AT devices and AT services?
AT devices are items used by persons with disabilities to perform some task of daily living, They enable individuals with disabilities to communicate, see, hear, learn, get around, control or enjoy their environment. AT devices range from “low tech” (pencil grips, adapted spoons, paper stabilizers) to “high tech” (computers, voice synthesizers, Braille readers). They can be homemade, purchased off the shelf, modified, or commercially available.
AT services are the activities that help people select, acquire, or use their Assistive Technology devices. AT services include finding the right device, training you and your family members on the device, maintaining and repairing the device, and conducting the evaluation that helps you determine which device you need. AT services are usually provided by a professional, trained in the use of Assistive Technology such as: a special education teacher, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech-language pathologist, or a certified AT specialist.
Is Assistive Technology only for people with severe disabilities?
No, AT is for people with all different levels of disabilities. It helps people with severe mental or physical disabilities to solve multiple and complex problems, but those with less involved difficulties can also benefit from AT too.
The AT Act is law that provides accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Click here to see the law: (Download Assistive Technology Act 1998, Amend 2004 – PDF)
Assistive Technology Evaluations & Assessments
- How do I identify the kind of Assistive Technology I need?
- What can I do to make sure the AT device I choose is the best for me?
- What professionals are considered qualified to assess a person in the area of Assistive Technology?
Assistive Technology Evaluations & Assessments
How do I identify the kind of Assistive Technology I need?
The primary way of identifying appropriate AT is through recommendations from physicians, special education teachers, physical or occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, assistive technologists, or NMTAP’s staff. You should also expect the professionals who evaluate your Assistive Technology needs to have information about where to find helpful devices and services.
What can I do to make sure the AT device I choose is the best for me?
The first thing you should do is ask for general recommendations from professionals mentioned above and then try a few types of devices to see which one best fits your needs. You can utilize NMTAP device loans or demonstration services to help.
What professionals are considered qualified to assess a person in the area of Assistive Technology?
There are no federal or state certification standards for specialists in Assistive Technology. However, service providers who are knowledgeable in conducting evaluations can be found in various places in the healthcare field. If you are unable to locate an appropriate professional, you may check RESNA which lists some certified professionals to help at www.resna.org/get-certified/certified-professionals-directory or you may contact NMTAP.
Assistive Device Purchases
- How much should I expect Assistive Technology to cost?
- Where can I buy the device(s) I borrowed from NMTAP?
- Are there other options to consider instead of purchasing the Assistive Technology device?
Assistive Device Purchases
How much should I expect Assistive Technology to cost?
Costs for AT can range from less than $1.00 for a pencil grip to up to $80,000 for a fully-customized, modified van. People who are planning Assistive Technology purchases should also be prepared for costs that go beyond the price of the device. For example, a computer set-up with a keyboard, monitor, and printer might cost $2,000. This equipment is basically useless for a person with a disability unless other equipment is bought such as software, adapted devices, scanners, and upgrades. Prices for these additions can raise the actual cost of the device by hundreds of dollars. Repair and maintenance are other costs usually added to the cost of the equipment.
It is important to check with your healthcare providers to see whether devices are covered or not in your insurance plan.
Where can I buy the device(s) I borrowed from NMTAP?
Devices can be found at a number of local and out of state vendors. Manufacturer and cost information can be found on our consumer database, found here.
Are there other options to consider instead of purchasing the Assistive Technology device?
Yes. There are times when the outright purchase of equipment or devices is not necessary or even advisable. In such instances, you might consider rental or long-term lease options in New Mexico. For example, renting equipment might be a reasonable strategy if a person is expected to improve in a short period of time, or when it is necessary to try out the equipment before purchase.
How is AT used in Regard to Education?
AT in Primary/Secondary Education
- How is Assistive Technology integrated into my child’s curriculum?
- Can the school district require a student to bring a personally owned Assistive Device to school in order to do schoolwork?
- My child’s school wants to use my family’s insurance plan to pay some of the cost of the AT. Must I agree to this?
- Can an Assistive Technology device be used by more than one student?
- Is a school district responsible for providing “state of the art” equipment for a student?
- If a student needs a computer, can a school owned computer be used in the lab or classroom?
- Does Assistive Technology include access to school buildings?
- My child changes buildings during the school day. Can the AT move from building to building?
- What happens to Assistive Technology devices when students leave the school system at graduation?
How is AT used in Regard to Education?
How is Assistive Technology integrated into my child’s curriculum?
The Individualized Education Program (IEP) team needs to discuss how the device will be used by the student and how it will be integrated into the curriculum. The IEP team should identify on the IEP how the device will be used by the student in the classroom. This information should be shared with the general classroom teachers so that they are aware of how it is to be used. For students, professionals serving on a child’s (IEP) team are likely to know about resources for locating the technology that a child and family need.
Can the school district require a student to bring a personally owned assistive device to school in order to do schoolwork?
No. However, the family may wish the child to use his or her equipment in school since the child may be more familiar or comfortable with it. The IEP team should decide who is responsible for repair and maintenance of family owned devices.
My child’s school wants to use my family’s insurance plan to pay some of the cost of the AT. Must I agree to this?
No. School cannot require you to use your health insurance coverage to pay for Assistive Technology or any school-related service. The “free” in Free, Appropriate, Public Education (FAPE) means that parents of students with disabilities who require Assistive Technology devices or services do not have to pay for these items. As stated in Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) and its regulations, all special education and related services identified in the student’s IEP must be provided “at no cost to the parent.”
In fact, agreeing to use your family’s health insurance coverage for your child’s school-related devices or services could be risky. When your family needs to use your health insurance coverage later, maybe for a medical emergency, you may not have coverage available because using your coverage for school-related devices and services may have depleted your maximum lifetime benefit amount.
Can an Assistive Technology device be used by more than one student?
Yes, if the device is the property of the school district and if all of the students using the device have access to the equipment when they need it, then the device can be used by multiple students. Also NMTAP may loan a device to a teacher to be used with several students (see the device loan page).
Is a school district responsible for providing “state of the art” equipment for a student?
No. The school district only needs to provide the appropriate technology in order to meet the student’s needs as described in the IEP. The decision as to what type of Assistive Technology is appropriate should be based on the Assistive Technology evaluation recommendations and IEP team decision. There may be “devices” or equipment features which may be nice for the student to have, but are not necessary for the free, appropriate, public education (FAPE), therefore the school district is not obligated to provide them. If a specific device is necessary to ensure FAPE and no other device can meet the student’s needs, then the district must provide the required device, even though it is costly. If a less expensive device would accomplish the same goals, the IEP team is under no obligation to choose a more expensive option.
If a student needs a computer, can a school owned computer be used in the lab or classroom?
Yes, a school owned computer can be used if the student has access to the equipment when he or she needs it. If the student does not have the necessary access, then the appropriate equipment should be purchased for the student’s use.
Does Assistive Technology include access to school buildings?
One important part of a Free, Appropriate, Public Education (FAPE) is that students with disabilities are able to get to school, get into the school, and use the school building and facilities. AT can be used to provide access to the school bus, classroom, playground, gymnasium, auditorium, lunchroom, or the equipment in any of these places. Any or all of these needs can be addressed in your child’s IEP.
Bus modifications for improved access and appropriate seating can help with transportation to and from school and school-related activities. Doors, walkways, handles, switches, stairs, and steps can be modified so that a student with disability can use them as effectively as classmates. Appropriate seating and playground modifications can enhance recreational access for students with disabilities.
My child changes buildings during the school day. Can the AT move from building to building?
If a student’s IEP or educational plan under 504 requires that equipment and services are available to your child, then they can move where your child moves.
Transporting devices from one building to another on a regular daily basis can be cumbersome. Moving a device may use up valuable student, teacher, and staff time or may take that device away from other students, teachers and staff who need it at the first facility or building. Your school’s 504 coordinator, IEP team and you may want to consider alternatives to moving a single device.
What happens to Assistive Technology devices when students leave the school system at graduation?
If the school district purchased the device, the device is the property of the school. The school could keep the device for use by other students, sell it, or decide to transfer the device to another district or loan program. If the family or another funding source purchased the device, it is the property of the student and the family.
Colleges and Universities are also required to provide AT to students with disabilities. You can find contact information here for many NM higher education locations. (Download Services for Students with Disabilities Info – MS Word)
How is AT used in regard to vocational settings?
- Can a person with a disability keep their job or get a job?
- Do I have to tell my employer I have a disability?
- I have a disability and want a job, is that possible?
How is AT used in Regard to Vocational Settings?
Can a person with a disability keep their job or get a job?
If you are seeking a job or are new to the workforce, you should become familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), a federal civil rights law designed to prevent discrimination and enable individuals with disabilities to participate fully in all aspects of society including accommodations to assist with an equal opportunity to work.
Do I have to tell my employer I have a disability?
No. Only you can decide whether and how much to tell your employer about your disability. Telling your employer about your diagnosis is the only way to protect your legal right to any accommodations, such as using Assistive Technology (AT) on the job. If you want to keep your job, it is important that you can fulfill the job duties whether you have a disability or not. Assistive Technology accommodations may be a solution for you.
I have a disability and want a job, is that possible?
Yes. If you can perform the job you want, then apply. If you need assistance in getting or maintaining a job with any challenges due to your disability, then there is help with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). In NM, check the website for more information: www.dvrgetsjobs.com
NM DVR is federally funded through the Rehabilitation Act and matched with state funding to provide you job assistance services; such as with AT to acquire and maintain a job.