Legislation has greatly expanded the use and awareness of assistive technology in the US, Mike Marotta of Inclusive Technology Solutions told BATA members in an exclusive presentation.
Marotta, a well-respected AT professional, was speaking at the AT into the USA seminar. He detailed the so-called dyslexia laws adopted by all but seven States in the US that ensured early screening of students and provided support for educators in assisting students with dyslexia.
There remained, he said, a balance to be struck between accommodation in schools of a child with a learning difficulty and the more demanding remediation that involves helping a student overcome a learning difficulty.
The assistive features of Chrome and Office 365 were widely used in US schools who were largely committed to cloud-based systems.
The Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act had also had an impact on assisting disabled people into work. Marotta explained how the Pre-Employment Transition Service (PETS), established by the Act, improved the chances of a disabled person finding a job.
PETS provided work-based learning experience, counselling and training in social skills and independent living. The scheme accounted for 15% of federal funding for disabled people.
However, there was a need to convince those involved in PETS that AT has a part to play and questions about whether State Departments of Labor or School Districts should pay for equipment.
Marotta noted there had been a marked rise in requests for help for people with autism.
So far as augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) was concerned, Marotta talked of how the technology was being used to deliver creative education. But practitioners had concerns about consolidation in the industry and also about a lack of data about usage patterns of AAC.
Marotta also gave his audience useful pointers on where to find further information about the US market. All States have programmes that provide demos, loans of equipment, re-use of devices and funding. Contact information about those who run these programmes can be found at AT3Centres.net.
The Quality Indicators for AT Services (QIAT) qiat.org is a grassroots group focusing on education, while #ATchat provides a forum for educators from around the world.
Copies of Mike Marotta’s slides can be found at bit.ly/BATA-US111318