Just as AU courses use innovations in technology and on-line learning, the Accessibility Services assistive technology team are innovative in the delivery of AT services:
A student's needs will be evaluated by the Assistive Technologist. The AT assessment is requested by the student. It includes innovative means for the student to evaluate the technology that may facilitate taking courses at Athabasca University.
- introduction to new technologies
- an opportunity for hands-on self evaluation
- remote demonstration or seminar
- other innovative means
The aforementioned list is not all inclusive. The AT industry has a huge amount of low tech solutions that should be paired with areas of impact from a disabling condition.
When possible, students may be asked to access a computer (to download trial software) or visit a vender, website, community agency, or assistive technology lab to try out different products. If an individual has very specialized needs or if a funding source requires an in person assessment, Accessibility Services will assist the student to locate an assistive technologist in their community and provide referrals.
Accessibility Services will include assessment recommendations in the 'Assistive Technology Service & Support Plan (ATSSP) and provide documentation for funding applications.
In addition to the assessment documentation, students may be asked to provide additional medical/professional verification of their need and of the potential benefits (or a psycho-educational assessment) of such technologies.
Students also must provide two price quotations. Some products are only available through specialty vendors. Accessibility Services staff can provide guidance and assistance.
Once the assessment is complete and recommendations made, Accessibility Services staff will assist with applications for funding for recommended equipment, software supports and training.
The price of such technologies may seem prohibitive. However, as a result of your permanent disabling condition you may be eligible to apply for financial assistance for Assistive Technologies, technical support, training and AT related support services. Our Funding Resources web page can provide you with more information about options. Please contact our office by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 1-800-788-9041 press 3 then 1 then extension 3424 in order to schedule an appointment to discuss how to apply for financial assistance.
If a student successfully attains funding, they should be aware that some funding sources will provide the individuals with the money to purchase the assistive devices. The individual will then be expected to account for the monies spent by providing receipts and to return any remaining funds. Such funding may be subject to additional terms and conditions. Accessibility Services can assist the student by providing information or consultation.
Other funding sources will provide or purchase the technology for the student. Students should ensure that they have a clear understanding of the agreement under which they receive the equipment. For example, can they keep the equipment and under what circumstances would they have to return it?
Please Note: If you have received funding for assistive technology or related services, the money may be forwarded to you directly. Subsequently, you will be responsible to purchase the equipment, obtain invoices or receipts, and submit the receipts and any remaining money to the funding sponsor. You should familiarize yourself with the sponsors guidelines and timelines for accountability to ensure eligibility for ongoing funding.
Learning how to use the assistive technology and apply it to the performance of a number of academic tasks is a critical component of how beneficial the technology may ultimately be. A number of factors will have an impact on the amount of training needed and how the training is delivered, including:
- previous experience and training with technology
- functional abilities and differences
- amount of funding available
- type of technology
- geographic location and availability of training services in the community
Accessibility Services will work with individual students to cooperatively determine their training requirements and assist to help identify a trainer to either deliver the service at a distance or to access resources in the community. Accessibility Services delivers training via the following methods:
- Remote access to your computer
- Web seminar
- Training modules (may include videos, PDF, or other resources)
- Contracted trainers
- On-site training
The current Accessibility Services Assistive Technologist has over 20 years of experience networking and supporting persons with disabilities in the AT industry. If solutions are not evident than the resources provided via knowledge base, vendor and manufacturer will most likely find the answer.
Future developments are that an AT blog will be added on the AT web page in order to facilitate easy use of common questions and support request, as well as foster our own AT community at AU.
Accessibility Services has acquired computers in Edmonton, Calgary, and Athabasca that have various assistive technologies on them for student use when writing exams.
- Zoomtext with Speech
- Kurzweil 3000
- Dragon Naturally Speaking
- Read & Write Gold
- Adjustable desk