In the very earliest stages of childhood, babies and toddlers are learning how to develop and nurture relationships, express their wants, needs, thoughts, and ideas, navigate and explore their environments, and begin to care for themselves and help others. In addition, young children use exploratory, constructive, and early symbolic play to learn about themselves and their worlds and develop and practice new skills in all areas of development.
Many infants and toddlers have disabilities that affect their ability to see, hear, eat, speak, and move. In addition, some disabilities make it extra hard for babies and toddlers to manage their feelings, keep themselves safe, and relate to other people. Assistive technology can be used to help children with disabilities to participate in the same activities as their family members and other children their age in order to help them learn and grow.
Assistive Technology refers to “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 the functional capabilities of children with disabilities.” (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 2004). Assistive technology devices can be as complex as a computer controlled with movements of the eyes or as simple as a spoon with an easy-to-grip handle. All children with disabilities can use assistive technology, but different types of assistive technology will work best for different children.
The purpose of this website is to help parents and professionals to access ideas, information, and resources relating to the use of assistive technology with infants and toddlers with disabilities. The primary goal is to help children with disabilities to access the world around them via augmentative communication, adapted play, assistive mobility, and self-care equipment.
“Accessibility allows us to tap into everyone’s potential.“ Debra Ruh, Disability Rights Activist. Ruh is the mother of a child with Down syndrome.
“For people without disabilities, technology makes things convenient. For people with disabilities, it makes things possible.“ Judith Heumann, Disability Rights Activist, former Special Advisor on Disability Rights to the US State Department under President Obama and Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services at the US Department of Education under President Clinton. Heumann had polio as a toddler and has used a wheelchair since early childhood.
“Disability is in the eyes of society. It is not in our eyes. If provided with opportunities, we can prove our worth.” Quotes from children with disabilities in Nepal.*
*Lansdown G, “Disabled Children in Nepal: Progress in Implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” Disability Awareness in Action, London, 2003. Included in Save the Children UK and Sweden’s “Disability: See Me, Hear Me- Quotes from Children” and extracted from the Child Rights International Network at https://www.crin.org/en/library/publications/disability-see-me-hear-me-quotes-children.