Boulder Valley School District
What is Assistive Technology?
Federal law defines “assistive technology” as “...any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of children with disabilities.” In the school setting, assistive technology includes specialized devices and software for learning and for addressing students’ educational needs, as defined by their IEP goals: accessing the curriculum, verbal and written communication, computer access, and environmental control. Many students, for example, might benefit from technology such as a Chromebook. However, a Chromebook would be considered “assistive technology” only if it enabled the student to access specific software (across multiple settings) which addressed a particular educational need/goal on the IEP.
What is an Assistive Technology Team?
State Level – The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) developed Statewide Assistive Technology, Augmentative and Alternative Communication teams (SWAAAC) teams. These teams are designed to assist students with disabilities in public schools with academic pursuits. The BVSD Assistive Technology Team is Boulder Valley’s SWAAAC team.
Local Level-The BVSD Assistive Technology Team is comprised of an occupational therapist, a speech/language pathologist, and a special education teacher. The goal of the Assistive Technology Team is to provide resources and the student/staff training necessary so that students with disabilities can participate in appropriate education experiences and communicate what they know. The team is available to visit schools to talk with teachers, parents, and therapists about students in special education programs. Team members can suggest solutions, both low and high tech, to help students with the learning process. They can assist with computer and environmental access (switch access), alternative communication, and choosing specialized software. Students may have mild disabilities such as learning disabilities or more significant cognitive or physical disabilities. The BVSD Assistive Technology Team has a lending library of devices and software available for specific students with needs identified by the team. The equipment and software can be used for evaluation, trial, or on longer-term loan.
WHO IS ON THE TEAM
Erika Brandstatter MA Ed- holds a Master's degree in Literacy from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and has been a Special Education teacher for the Boulder Valley School District since 1996 and has been with the team since 2010. She has taught in both Resource and Intensive Learning Center classrooms and has extensive experience with assistive technology.
Becca Stenzel, MA, OTR/L holds a Master's degree in Occupational Therapy from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and has been an Occupational Therapist in BVSD since 2014. Becca has experience working with people with a wide range of abilities in many settings including schools, hospitals, in-home care, community programming, camps, wilderness settings and she provides hippotherapy in addition to her work at BVSD. She loves the creativity involved in finding the right AT tools to maximize each individual's success.
Paul Visvader MA CCC-SLP- has been involved in education since 1974 (both teaching and publishing) and has a Master's in Communication Disorders and Speech Science (M.A., 1997), as well as a Master's in Music (M.M., 1991). He has been a speech-language pathologist since 1997 and has been with the team since 2002.