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 laptop. However, a laptop 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 the 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?
Becca Stenzel, CTRS, 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 worked as an OT in another school district and has served as the Director of Adaptive Recreation and Inclusion at a non-profit. She has experience working with people with a wide range of abilities in many settings including schools, hospitals, in-home care, community programming, camp settings, and wilderness settings. (She has also provided hippotherapy). Becca enjoys introducing people to assistive technology and loves the creativity involved in finding the right tools to maximize each individual's success.
Contact at: email@example.com or 720-561-5698
Erika Brandstatter MA Ed-Erika 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. She has taught in both Resource and Intensive Learning Center classrooms and has extensive experience with assistive technology.
Contact at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 720-561-5685
Paul Visvader-Paul 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. Paul is the current Assistive Technology Team Coordinator.
Contact at: email@example.com or 720-561-6173
How to receive our services
An Assistive Technology referral form must first be completed by the student's school team and signed by parents. The appropriate referral form can be downloaded from links below (please choose either the Communication referral form, Literacy full evaluation referral form, the Literacy Fast-Track referral form or the Physical Access referral form). Completed forms should be scanned and emailed to your AT Team contact: Erika, Becca or Paul (see email addresses above. Please do not send paper copies to us via District Mail.
After all paperwork is received and reviewed, we will contact the student's case manager to schedule an evaluation (an evaluation can include teachers, parents, and specialists),
or provide instructions on installing a Google extension.