Assistive Technology

    Apps to Support Successful Transition to College for Students with ASD

    From "Teaching Exceptional Children" Volume 51 Issue 2 "As the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) continues to increase (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014), so too does the rate of high school students with ASD enrolling in college after graduation (Brown & DiGaldo, 2011; Sanford et al., 2011). Although accommodations can be provided to these students through Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (1973), only 20% of students with disabilities, including ASD, graduate from college (Grogan, 2015), in contrast to 59% of students without disclosed disabilities (U.S. Department of Education, 2017). Many factors contribute to the disappointing graduation rate of students with disabilities, including those related to five key domains known to influence the success of college students with ASD: academics (Sayman, 2015; Taylor & Colvin, 2013), social interactions (Grogan, 2015; McKeon, Alpern, & Zager, 2013), living outside the family home (Cullen, 2015; Dente & Coles, 2012), executive functioning (Cai & Richdale, 2016; Sayman, 2015), and mental health (Pugliese & White, 2014; Taylor & Colvin, 2013). To prepare high school students with ASD for college, educators can use assistive technology, including specific software applications (apps), in tandem with evidence-based teaching practices to support skill development and student success (Fletcher-Watson, McConnell, Manola, & McConachie, 2014)."
    Click this link to read the article.

    NY State Memorandum on Assistive Technology for Students with Disabilities

    This memorandum and application provides school districts and committees on special education (CSE) with procedures, forms, and policy for submitting applications seeking State reimbursement of tuition costs for students with disabilities in approved out-of-State residential schools. The CSE must submit an application for State reimbursement for initial placement in an approved out-of-State residential school within six business days of the date the student enrolled in the school. The CSE can submit a reapplication for State reimbursement anytime following a student's annual review, but prior to June 1, 2017.
    This webcast and the consideration checklist can be found on NYSED's website and by clicking this link..
    Click this link to read the NY State Memorandum.

    Autism Technology for Autism

      Due to the growing awareness of and funding for services for children with Autism, there are a range of programs that have been developed, or that are being developed to help these children succeed.


      Teachtown is a software package that is aimed at teacher children with Autism from 2 - 7 years old a range of skills. The company states that they have over 800 on screen and off screen lessons that are designed to teach skills in the following areas: Language Development, Adaptive Skills, Social Emotional, Cognitive Skills, Language Arts, and Mathematics. The program also purports to have a number of ways to track student learning.
      I have not reviewed this program, and am not endorsing it, in anyway. In fact I have concerns about sitting any 2 year old in front of a computer to teach them skills. However, I am posting it on my webpage, for parents and schools who may be searching for an intervention for students with Autism.


      Videojub provides 1000's of how to videos on a number of topics. I have not watched all of the videos and have the sense that some of these would not be appropriate for many of my patients. However some of the videos, for example on reading body language, or how to know if a man, and how to know if a women is flirting with you can be very helpful for a number of my patients with autism and related disorders that cause social issues.

    Assistive Technology Funding

      Funding of Assistive Technology to make work a reality

      Children with Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs) have the right to have assistive technology programs and services provided to them as part of the IEP. However the devices or services are provided as part of the child's educational program, and typically are owned by the school system, so that when the child leaves school the devices do not go with them into the adult world. Additionally some children need Assistive Technology devices of services in the home setting in addition to the school setting. The article "Funding Of Assistive Technology To Make Work A Reality: Funding for Work-Related Assistive Technology Through Special Education Programs, State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies, Medicaid, Medicare and SSI's Plan for Achieving Self Support" provides a very thorough overview of funding options. The article uses as an example a 17 year old junior in high school with Cerebral Palsy who is planning on going to Cornell University and needs a variety of Assistive Technology resources in school, in her home, and to address her transportation needs.
      Click this link to the Neighborhood Legal Services INC website
      Click this link to the read the pdf of the Article

    Assistive Technology Research

      Implementation of Assistive Technology

      A recent study in the January/February 2010 issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy found that the implementation of Assistive Technology by a team of occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, and educators has a significant impact on helping students with disabilities achieve their academic goals. The study showed that assistive technology appears to make a greater contribution toward accomplishing goals set on a child's Individualized Education Plan than other possible interventions, including "related services," tutoring, changes to the curriculum, and student maturation.

    Assistive Technology Reviews

    Assistive Technology Tools

      Assistive Technology Tools for Auditory Processing Disorders

      Assistive Technology for Auditory Processing Disorder

      Understood - Assistive technology (AT) can help kids with auditory processing disorder better understand what they hear. AT tools include listening devices, captions and text-to-speech apps. AT tools can minimize background noise and amplify speech to make it clearer.
      Click this link to read the article.

      Assistive Technology Tools for Communication

        Communication Devices

          There are a number of communication devices available for students with handicapping conditions. Over time, I will add more to this page.

          Assistive Technology Solutions for Employees with Speech Impairments

          "Have you ever wondered how a person who hears but doesn’t speak uses the phone? Of course there are TTY and speech-to-speech relay services, but what if relay methods don’t meet the employee’s needs? What if the nature of the work requires a more direct and confidential method of communicating? There are devices for phone and face-to-face communication that are designed for individuals who do not speak at all or who find speaking very challenging called AAC (Alternative and Augmentative Communication). AAC devices, also called speech-generating devices, are an example of a type of technology that can be used by individuals who have difficulty speaking. JAN has general information about AAC devices as well as information about AAC with telephone access."
          Click this go to the page.

          Dynavox and Vmax

          Dynavox V and Vmax are portable augmentative communication devices that are programmable. They can be ideal for individuals who struggle with oral speech.

      Assistive Technology Tools for Executive Function

      Assistive Technology Multi-Sensory Learning and Review

      This webinar is the second of a 3-part series focusing on study skills by CTD and the PACER Center. Learning for students can be enhanced with tools that engage them with information in a multisensory manner, a combination of 2 or more senses such as visual, auditory, vestibular (movement), or tactile (kinesthetic). This presentation also covers resources for research, homework help, and supplementary learning through online courses.
      Click this go to the page.

      Assistive Technology Tools for Homework

      Assistive Technology Tools for Math

      Assistive Technology Tools for Notetaking

      Livescribe pencast: What is assistive technology - 10/22/11

      Livescribe Smartpen

      The Livescribe Smartpen Now this is pretty cool device! The Livescribe smartpen allows students to adults to take notes during lectures, meetings, classes, etc. The user writes their notes using the smart pen and special notebooks (available for purchase). The pen then syncs with the computer. At this point the notes appear on the screen as written. The pen has also recorded all of the lesson or meeting. The user can then listen to the meeting/class and the notes appear on the screen synced with the audio, or they can click on a note and the associated audio will play. This allows the user to only listen to the parts of the class or meeting they needed to listen to. So instead of listening through 30 minutes of audio they can click on the word mitosis for example and hear what the teacher said about it. As additional pages of notes are written, they are added to the computer. Depending on the students writing, the notes are also searchable. There are currently two versions of the smartpen available.
      There are 2 GB, 4 GB, and 8 GB versions of the pen. There are also a variety of related products that go along with the pen. Including extra notebooks. The pen keeps track of which notebook and which page the notes are written in.
      To read a NY Times review of the Livescibe Pen click on this link.

      Livescribe pencast: What is assistive technology

      Livescribe is a pen based audio recording system that allows users to record what is being said in a classroom, lecture hall, or meeting as they write. The result is searchable. The user can then selectively listen to the material later to study or review their notes.
      Click on this link to download the pdf file example of a pencast showing how to use the livescribe pen.

      Assistive Technology Tools for Reading

        Bookshare provides parents, children, teachers, and schools free accessible audio books and associated assistive technology tools to help engage children and adults with print disabilities access to books and other materials.  As the world’s largest online library of accessible books for people with print disabilities, Bookshare provides qualified students access to a wide range of reading material outside of school. With Bookshare’s accessible books and assistive technology, students who once struggled with reading can now read and study independently!  This is a great resource and unlike the library downloadable book feature, provides both print and audio formats of the books the individual is reading.
        There are three upcoming presentations on Bookshare.

        Bookshare video

        Claro ScanPen OCR Reader

        Until recently, Claro ScanPen was only available for iOS. But now there’s an Android version. This is one of my favorite apps for converting photos of text into electronic text that can be read aloud. This is useful for reading aloud paper handouts and worksheets. Kids can use Claro ScanPen like a standard camera app on their mobile devices. It’s just point and shoot. To have words read aloud, simply draw a box around them with a finger or stylus. The app uses optical character recognition (OCR) technology to convert photos.
        Click here to read about the app

        Humanware Classmate Reader

        The Humanware Classmate Reader is a portable reading machine that runs Daisy software. As such it is able to play books downloaded through The device offers a number of features that can be very useful for individuals with reading disorders.

        The Intell Reader

        The Intel Reader is a new assistive technology device that transfers text to speech. The difference between this device and others is that it allows the user to take a picture of printed material (book, newspaper, report, etc..) and have the material read to the user.

        Internet Archive

        Internet Archive - More than doubling the number of books available to print disabled people of all ages, the Internet Archive is a new service that brings free access to more than 1 million books — from classic 19th century fiction and current novels to technical guides and research materials. The materials on the archive are available in the Daisy Reader Format which is a specially designed format to support those who are blind, dyslexic or are otherwise visually impaired. The books are accessible through a downloadable software program but also can be transferred to portable devices like the Humanware Classmate Reader. An individual with a print disability can access to all of the materials in the library after being qualified by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) as in individual with a disability.
        Application instructions can be found by clicking on this link.
        To read a story about the internet archive from USA Today click on this link.
        To read more about the Internet Archive click on this link.


        Learning Ally

        Learning Ally was formerly Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic. Founded in 1948 as Recording for the Blind, Learning Ally serves more than 300,000 K-12, college and graduate students, veterans and lifelong learners – all of whom cannot read standard print due to blindness, visual impairment, dyslexia, or other learning disabilities. Learning Ally’s collection of more than 80,000 digitally recorded textbooks and literature titles – downloadable and accessible on mainstream as well as specialized assistive technology devices – is the largest of its kind in the world. More than 6,000 volunteers across the U.S. help to record and process the educational materials, which students rely on to achieve academic and professional success. Learning Ally, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is funded by grants, state and local education programs, and the generous contributions of individuals, foundations and corporations.
        Learning Ally provides books in at least three formats: Classic Audio: A human reads the book with no text; Voice Text Human: A human reads the book and the reader can follow along with the printed text which is provided; Voice Text Synthetic: The Computer reads the book and the reader can follow along with the printed text which is provided. Not every book is available in every format.
        Click this link to go to the website.

        Monroe County Library Downloadable Books

        The Monroe County Library has a collection of free downloadable audio books. The books are initially downloaded directly to your computer and from there they can be sent directly to an MP3 player or to an an IPod, or an IPhone. Follow the Downloadable books link to go directly to the site. This is a great resource to get a spouse or a child to listen to a book they may not normally read. Many school required reading books are available on this page as a downloadable audio book.

        New York Public Library Downloadable Books

        Anyone in NY State can apply for a New York Public Library Card. The reason to do so, is that the NYPL is a fantastic source from audible books for kids and adults. The Library has Tumblebooks, E-books and audible books from Overdrive, Bookflix, Tumblebooks and much more.
        Click this link to go to the NYPL.
        Click this link to go to the eBooks, Digital Images & More page.
        Click this link to go to the eBooks, Digital Images & More page.

        National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC)

        National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC)is a national clearinghouse for accessible textbooks. While textbooks can not be directly downloaded from this site. The site provides information on national and statewide resources to access accessible textbooks from.
        Click this link to access thier site.

        National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)

        National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) Through a national network of cooperating libraries, NLS administers a free library program of braille and audio materials circulated to eligible borrowers in the United States by postage-free mail. An individual with a print disability can access the materials on the NLS after being qualified by the NLS as in individual with a disability.
        Application instructions can be found by clicking on this link.

        Open eBooks

        Educators, program leaders and librarians who work with in-need youth in libraries, schools, shelters, clinics, out-of-school time programs, military family programs, early childhood programs, and other capacities can access Open eBooks by registering with First Book.
        Click on this link to go to the program site.
        Click on this link to read about the program.

        Play Away Audio Books

        Play away Audio books are stand alone audio books. All the reader needs are headphones to plug into the reader. These are being used in libraries and school libraries. These can be very helpful from struggling readers as they simplify the process of listening to audio books.

        Quicktionary Reading Pen

        Quicktionary Reading Pen
        Another tool for helping struggling readers access text is the Quicktionary Reading Pen. A student rolls the pen tip over an unknown word. The pen then reads the word orally. The student can then have the pen read the definition of the word or spell the word. This is useful for students who have difficulty with specific words on a page, but is not useful for having a whole page read to the student. The pen comes with an ear bud, so that no-one needs to hear the word being word.

        Speechify – Text to Audiobook

        Speechify is an app that turns text into audio files and stores them in a digital library. Kids can send web articles to the app, or scan paper books and handouts. It uses text-to-speech technology to create the audio files, and then collects the files in a list so kids can listen on the go. Kids with macOS computers can also use the Mac version of Speechify to quickly send audio files from their laptops to the mobile app on their phones or tablets.
        Click on this link to go to the program site.

        3-Minute Tutorial: How to Use Text-to-Speech on a Mobile Device

        Did you know that nearly every mobile device offers text-to-speech? In other words, your phone can actually read to you what’s displaying on the screen. For kids with reading issues, this can be extremely helpful in everything from doing research for school to browsing social media.

      Assistive Technology Tools for Studying

      Using Quizlet to study NY State Global Studies II exam - 10/22/11

      Quizlet: An example of web-based Assistive Technology

      There area a number of web-based resources that can help teachers, parents, and students teach and learn. It is often very useful to combined these resources.
      Quizlet is a web based program that allows the easy creation of flash cards. One of the useful features of Quizlet is the ability to import data. This allows anyone to take data from Microsoft word or other sources and easily make flashcards. In this case flash cards to help study for the NY State Global Studies II exam.

      Regents Prep

      For students in NY State that have to take a Regents exam, there is a great web resource called This is a very useful resource with a wealth of material to study from. One of the resources for the NY State Global Exam is a list of vocabulary students should learn. This list when exported to Word is 70 pages long.

      Assistive Technology Tools for Time Management

      Assistive Technology Tools for Writing and Spelling

        Handwriting tools

        This section is by Sari Ockner, OTR/L. Follow Sari on Facebook at Kidz Occupational Therapy or on Twitter at Sari_KidzOT for on-going information to support children in school, at home, and in the community. For further information visit :

        Pencil Grips

        Handwriting is a complex skill that can be very difficult for children with sensory processing challenges. Consequently, these children tend to avoid writing because it can be quite frustrating for them. There are different types of writing tools that offer sensory solutions for these children to help make writing an easier task. Here are some tools that may be helpful in exploring ways to best suit your children's writing and sensory needs.

          Mechanical pencils

          Children with proprioception problems often have difficulty modulating the pressure they use on items. If a child presses too hard when writing their hands fatigue quicker, mistakes are harder to clear away when erasing, and they are more apt to rip the paper (very frustrating!). Mechanical pencils can aid to teach modulation of pressure, as the lead will break if too much pressure is applied. Each time the lead breaks it will give the child feedback and the desired result is to help them monitor the pressure they are using.

          Weighted pencils

          While some children with proprioception difficulties press too hard, others press too light when writing making their strokes very hard to decipher. A weighted pencil can help to make their pencil steadier and give them the extra weight they need to press more firmly resulting in darker strokes. There are pencil weight kits that you can purchase or you can easily make one from using rubber washers and rod shaped coupling nuts found in a hardware store for a few dollars.

          Vibrating Pencils

          Children with low muscle tone generally have poor fine motor strength and have difficulties sustaining their grasp on a pencil, which impacts their written production. Vibration is a sensory technique that can be used to “wake up” or stimulate muscles and allow for more efficient muscle use. The vibration pencil also seems to entice children with sensory seeking behaviors, as it gives them sensory feedback to their fingers and helps to keep them focused on the task. Based on my experience, the vibration pencil, more specifically the Ark Z-Vibe*, has been so useful in motivating so many children to write. I often recommend using for homework, as the slight buzz can be distracting to classmates. On the flip side, the constant light hum (like white noise) can be somewhat soothing to the writer. I have noted that children with tactile sensitivity have said it tickles their fingers and they do not prefer to use it.

        Tactile Writing Tools

        Tactile seekers love textures. The three options below can help offer sensory feedback to satiate tactile needs during writing tasks by giving them textures right there on their own pencil.

          Gel Squish Grips

          Musgrave Pencil Fidgets

          Faber-Castell GRIP Writing Pencils

          Pencil Toppers

          Some children seek intense oral input. These are the children that chew on the collars or sleeves of their shirts, suck on their fingers, or bite off the eraser tips of their pencils. The mouth is a powerful organizing center, just think of how a baby soothes himself by sucking on a pacifier. The actions of chewing, biting, and sucking are excellent ways to help increase focus and concentration and often decrease anxiety.

          Chew Stixx Pencil Toppers

          CHEW STIXX Pencil Toppers (BPA and Phathalate free) fit right on the top of the pencil and are an excellent sensory strategy to use in the classroom.
          Considerations: Using writing tools that give sensory feedback can be very beneficial to a child with sensory needs. It is, however, important to remember that physically holding a pencil properly with a comfortable, efficient grasp is fundamental to developing good handwriting skills.

        Spelling Devices

        Franklin Speller

        Franklin Portable Devices
        Franklin has a full range of portable hand held devices that range from talking spelling devices to dictionaries, and to foreign language devices.
        Franklin: Children's Talking Dictionary and Speller Corrector is a moderately pricesd device that allows children to look up word definitions and spelling of words. The words can then be read back to the student to ensure that they have the correct word.

        Writing Tools


        The Fusion is perfect for students working in a classroom or home setting. Unlike a computer it does not have a screen standing up blocking the view of the student or teacher. The Fusion also has a number of key features not available on other portable keyboards. These include word Text to Speech and Word Predication software. The word predication software offers the student on screen choices as they start to type a word. This can help with spelling and speed up the writing process. The Text to Speech feature reads back what the student has written to allow the student to hear any spelling or grammatical mistakes they have made in their written work.

        A guide for Assistive Technology Tools for Writing

        A useful guide to Assistive Technology Tools to help with writing.
        Click this link to download a pdf of the article.

    Assistive Technology Websites

      NY State Assistive Technology (AT) Project

      Neighborhood Legal Services is a statewide clearinghouse for resources needed to advocate for AT. This includes, for example: winning Medicaid hearing decisions awarding funding for AT, court decisions from NY and other states awarding funding for AT; the briefs and written arguments sumitted in hearings and litigation; and a range of medical and technical resources, including published articles, research findings, etc., to support an appeal.
      Click this link to go to the site.

      Assistive Technology Training Online Project (ATTO)

      This site provides an overview of common Assistive Technology Classroom Tools. The site includes information on AT grants, AT tutorials, and AT resources. The site generally features easy to use resources from classroom use.
      Click this link to go to the site.


      AbleData provides a database of assistive technology and rehabilitation equipment, including price and information on more than 40,000 assistive technology products.
      Click this link to go to the webpage. is billed as the National Public Website on Assistive Technology. The site is created and maintained through the collaboration of Sponsors including: Georgia Tech Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA), National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), and Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). The site provides a very comprehensive listing of Assistive Technology options for the full range of physical, cognitive, and health disorders.

      Expertise - Home remodeling for People with Disabilities

      11/3/15 has created a comprehensive guide for people living with disabilities that aims to help make the federal grants available to seniors, veterans, and people with cognitive and physical disabilities much easier to understand and take advantage of, particularly for remodeling homes for accessibility.
      Click this link to go to the site

      Georgia Tech Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA)

      Georgia Tech Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA)is a multidisciplinary engineering and design research center dedicated to enhancing the health, activity and participation of people with functional limitations through the application of assistive and universally designed technologies in real world environments, products and devices.
      Click this link to go to the site

      IT Hare on Soft.ware "Guide to Software Accessibility for the Disabled"

      A comprehensive guide to AT services for a number of disability catergories.
      Click this link to go to the site

      National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR)

      The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), a component of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), is the main federal agency that supports applied research, training and development to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities.
      Click this link to go to the site

      Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA)

      Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) provides a very comprehensive listing of Assistive Technology options for the full range of physical, cognitive, and health disorders.
      Click this link to go to the site.

Assistive Technology News

Speech Apps to Smart Pens: Tech Aids Students With Learning Disabilities

Rebecca Ungarino, from NBC News reviews some common Assistive Technology tools. As she reports "ew gadgets and mobile apps introduced in the past few years are making reading, writing and math more accessible to students with learning disabilities."
Click this link to read the article.
A nice NY times article that provides an overview of Assistive Technology Options.
Click this link to read the article.

A New York Time Article investigates the use of computers with teens and finds that teens who use computers actually show a decline in their academic skills.
To read the article click on this link.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued the agency's first ever working paper addressing accessibility and technology issues in conjunction with the National Broadband Plan. The paper considers the numerous barriers to broadband usage faced by people with disabilities, including inaccessible hardware, software, services, and web content and expensive specialized assistive technologies. According the press release, “Only 42 percent of people with disabilities have high-speed Internet services at home -- and an astounding 39 percent of all non-adopters have a disability,” said Joel Gurin, Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau. “This is not acceptable, and we are implementing an ambitious accessibility agenda to ensure that people with disabilities are not left behind.”
Click this link to read the paper A Giant Leap & A Big Deal: Delivering on the Promise of Equal Access to Broadband for People with Disabilities.

© Copyright, all rights reserved Daniel J. DeMarle, Ph.D. 2014