Whether it’s communication, recreation, employment, education, transportation or just plain daily living, technology levels the playing field for children and adults with disabilities. And, because technology is such a natural part of everyday life for everyone, the options for devices and apps are as numerous and diverse as the individuals who use them. Here are a few tips and resources to get you started:
Identify the task first. Device Second.
There are a lot of options out there, and no one device is right for every individual. For an extensive database of Assistive Technology (AT) products, categorized by function, visit AbleData’s products page.
Get an AT Assessment
If your child is in school, ask for an AT evaluation as part of the IEP process (see Assistive Technology in the School, below). For adults, contact one of the appropriate resources below.
Try Before You Buy
Make sure the device and/or apps are right for your son or daughter. The Washington Assistive Technology Alliance Program will loan devices for up to six weeks for a small fee.
Assistive Technology Resources
Statewide AT Resource: The Arc of Tri-Cities
The Arc of Tri-Cities Assistive Technology Program is contracted with the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) to provide Specialized Equipment and Supplies to eligible individuals. If you are on Community First Choice, you have access to funding for Assistive Technology (AT) Devices that increase the individual’s independence. There is a limit of $550 per fiscal year. Visit The Arc of Tri-Cities Assistive Technology website, or contact Sue Pederson to learn more.
Developmental Disabilities Administration
The Children’s In-Home Intensive Behavior Support waiver and Individual & Family Services Program both include assistive technology in their covered services.
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
Short-term employment services for adults. In addition to adults with disabilities, high school transition students are eligible for services.
Provides people with both significant vision and hearing loss with free equipment and training. iCanConnect is a national program with local contacts that helps people stay connected with friends, family and the world. The local contact for Washington State is Washington Assistive Technology Program (see below).
Telecommunication Equipment Distribution (TED)
Distributes specialized telecommunication equipment that enables Washington residents to have independent use of the telephone. For persons age 4 and up who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or speech disabled who live in Washington State. Read our article about TED.
Northwest Access Fund
Low interest loans and matched savings accounts for low-income households.
Washington Assistive Technology Act Program
Information, referrals, training and device loans.
Washington Initiative for Supported Employment
Technical assistance to adults and high school students with I/DD seeking employment and job training.
Work Incentive Programs
The cost of work-related expenses, such as AT, may be offset by Social Security work incentive programs PASS and IRWE. Ask your DDA or DVR case manager for more information.
Services for the Blind
Department of Services for the Blind (DSB)
DSB’s AT Specialists help people who are blind or visually impaired acquire and use appropriate AT to help them participate in activities of daily living, employment and education. DSB clients, along with their teams of VRCs, Rehab Techs, and AT Specialists, decide which type of assistive technology would be most helpful for the client’s career goals. The team is trained to match particular technologies to specific needs to help the person function better or more independently.
DSB AT Specialists: offer with assistance in the selection, acquisition, and use of assistive technology devices; manage the purchasing, leasing, or otherwise acquiring assistive technology devices; customize, repair, or replace assistive technology devices; provide training or technical assistance.
AT Specialists also stay up to date on the latest products on the market that will benefit their clients. Learn more.
Washington School for the Blind Statewide Technology Services
The technology project provides consultative and direct instruction services to WSSB and the local school districts. Collaborations are available to the local school district at no charge.
Provides people with both significant vision and hearing loss with free equipment and training. iCanConnect is a national program with local contacts that helps people stay connected with friends, family and the world. The local contact for Washington State is Washington Assistive Technology Program (see above).
Educational iPad Apps for Preschool and Early Elementary Totally Blind Children
There are not many mainstream educational iPad apps that are accessible for totally blind young children with VoiceOver. However, there are many iOS switch apps accessible for visually impaired students with usable vision. Enabling Devices has a list of switch adapted apps that work with children with usable vision.
Switch2Scan is an excellent switch interface for the iPad. This device is both VoiceOver capable and switch capable which makes it an excellent option for totally blind children with significant additional impairments who need switches. It can be purchased from
InclusiveTLC and is made by Pretorian.
Assistive Technology Videos for the Blind
General Resources for the Blind
About Assistive Technology in the School
Washington State Administrative Code (WAC) addresses the availability of assistive technology in WAC 392-172A-02015
- Each school district shall ensure that assistive technology devices or assistive technology services, or both, are made available to a student eligible for special education if required as part of the student’s: (a) special education (b) related services (c) supplementary aids and services.
- On a case-by-case basis, the use of school-purchased assistive technology devices in a student’s home or in other settings is required if the student’s IEP team determines that the student needs access to those devices.