Assistive Technology

Assistive technology (AT) expands the avenues for enhancing students’ learning and development. AT might involve adapting an off-the-shelf toy or figuring out how a student can most efficiently operate her state-of-the-art communication device.

HMS maintains a large inventory of AT equipment, both low and high-tech. A full-time AT specialist tracks and trouble-shoots this equipment, provides staff training and assists with interface between devices and other AT-related issues. The following are examples of high-tech AT equipment used by HMS students:

Computers and Computer Access

HMS uses Macintosh computers with dual core processors that can also run Windows. This allows staff to train students to use both Macs and PCs on the same machine, better preparing students for whatever equipment is available to them in the future.

An extensive collection of equipment that allows access to computers is available for evaluation and student use. HMS continually expands this inventory as new technologies emerge.

  • Joysticks
  • Trackballs
  • Adapted mice
  • Adapted keyboards
  • Alternative keyboards
  • Mouse emulators
  • Single-switch interfaces
  • Touch screens

Augmentative and Alternative Communication Devices

HMS’s goal is to identify a way for every child to communicate through voice output. With dozens of communication devices available, from the most basic to sophisticated high-tech, the device may “speak” a single recorded message when the child hits a switch or a range of messages selected from scanned, multilayered menus.

HMS maintains an inventory of the most current AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) equipment, mounting systems, switch and switch-mounting equipment, computer interface equipment and software, all available for student evaluation, trials and training, both at school and at home. Our therapists are knowledgeable about available equipment and stay current on the latest device models. We also keep a supply of devices for use by students if their primary device needs repair. Following are many of the devices used by students at HMS.

Dynamic Display devices use LCD display screens that change as selections are made and range from basic recorded-voice devices to the most sophisticated computer-based systems.

Eye Gaze devices use the latest in eye-gaze technology, allowing students to make selections by simply looking at their choices.

Static Display and Single Location devices can store a single message or an array of messages recorded into a set number of locations. These devices can be expanded by programming various levels with different vocabulary and having a caregiver switch between levels.

Other AT and Adaptive Equipment

Environmental Controls Numerous options are available for training students to control equipment in their home environment.

  • Infrared Controls: telephone, TV, DVD, VCR, stereo
  • Remote control lights
  • Switch-adapted control of appliances
  • Switch-adapted measuring cups
  • Switch-adapted radios/stereos/tape players

Visual Training equipment helps students with visual impairments to access educational materials and develop better functional vision.

  • Light boxes
  • Black light areas and visual tracking materials
  • CCTVs
  • Jordie portable CCTV goggles


iPads are used for assessments, visual tracking training, visual attention activities, environmental controls, training using voice controls of the computer and to augment the educational curriculum through various educational apps.