Wednesday, July 5, 2017

DIY Simple Assistive Technology

I seriously love a good DIY classroom project, especially if it saves me money and meets the individual needs of my kiddos. Assistive tech (or AT) is a very general term and can include a variety of equipment, software, etc. that improves the functional and academic abilities of students with disabilities.

AT can cost a lot of money in special education classrooms, and let's be real... we don't have a lot of money!  It can also be particularly hard to purchase AT for kiddos with multiple/ severe needs because our kiddos often need VERY individualized AT. I've come up with a few super cheap DIY options for some of the AT needs in my classroom.

Clipboard Choice/ Answer Board:
Clipboards have SO many functions and possibilities in the classroom! I love to use clipboards as choice and answer boards during instruction and free choice time. I put 2-6 (depending on the kiddo) choices or answer options on Velcro on the clipboard and then present the clipboard to the kiddos so they can select an answer. You can also add a piece of Velcro somewhere at the top of the clipboard to give kiddos a visual/ matching prompt if needed!

The left clipboard shows an example without a visual prompt. On the right, there is a "sunny" picture at the top of the clipboard to provide students with a visual prompt of the correct answer.

PVC Pipe Choice / Answer Stick:

I made this simple PVC pipe stick for kiddos who eye gaze and have physical disabilities. This is great because it's long (there's about 6 inches between each picture), so students who eye gaze or who have difficulties pointing to small areas/pictures due to a physical disability can easily select answers without confusing staff about what picture they're pointing to. You can also simply attach Velcro and pictures to a ruler or paint stick from Home Depot, but I like this PVC pipe option better because it has a handle. The handle avoids your hand getting in the way/ blocking the view of any picture cards.

Choice/ answer stick made with PVC pipe... because we don't have 4 arms ;)

DIY Slant/ Communication Board:
This might be my all-time favorite DIY piece of AT equipment.... This slant board is made from the cardboard that bed sheet sets come in! I literally just followed the folds/creases that were already in the cardboard, glued the flap down, spray painted it and glued a clip to the top! And voila, a fancy new slant/ communication board holder! Since I a lot of students with physical disabilities, I added Velcro to the bottom of the slant board and then Velcroed it to the table so it doesn't move around when students are using it.

The cardboard from bed sheet sets make amazinggg slant boards!

What are your go-to DIY assistive tech hacks?

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