Access Through Technology News and Events

The Access Through Technology Program Makes a Difference!

By Muriel Aparo, CT Tech Act Project

In CT, the FCC’s National Deaf Blind Equipment Distribution Program is known as Access Through Technology. We provide equipment needed to make telecommunications, advanced communications, and the Internet accessible to individuals who have a combination of significant vision and hearing loss.

In June of 2019, we received applications for two young ladies, sisters, who live with Usher’s Syndrome Type 1, which causes profound hearing loss and progressive vision loss. One of the sisters was in middle school and the other in high school. Both had cochlear implants and wore glasses but still struggled with blurred vision, leaving them with eye fatigue and headaches from the eye strain by the end of their school days. This caused them to have difficulty utilizing computers and the internet to complete homework or to socialize online with family and friends.

Upon approval for services through the Access Through Technology program, the CT Tech Act Project connected them to our AT partner agency United Cerebral Palsy of Eastern CT who evaluated the girls and made recommendations for Microsoft Surface computers and mice to be purchased. The equipment was delivered and installed, and they each received training on how to use the equipment. The girls were excited to work with the technology and it helped improve their ability to do well in school, get online for research for school projects, video chat with friends and family and much more.

Sister's A & M sitting on the sofa with their new MacBook Pros and iPhones In 2022, the girls’ mother reached out again as their vision had declined and they had updates to their cochlear implants and now had Bluetooth capabilities. The CT Tech Act Project, with the help of United Cerebral Palsy of Eastern CT’s AT evaluator, was able to again give assistance by providing additional equipment including MacBook Pros and iPhone 13 Pro Maxs to help with the changes in both their eyesight and new implants. The larger screens and the built-in accessibility features of the devices help to reduce eye strain and headaches. To say that both girls are grateful for the technology is an understatement. One of the sisters stated, “It has changed our lives in a way I couldn’t imagine.”


Testimonial from Corinne

Corrinne using her iPad with keyboard, this image also refers to the Access Through Technology program

“I am so grateful for the Access Through Technology program, which got me an iPad, iMac, and Microsoft Office. These pieces of technology have enabled me to take virtual classes through the Helen Keller National Center and do a remote Social Media Marketing internship through Helen Keller Services. Having Microsoft Office has made it much easier for me to take notes during class, write to-do lists, write letters, make lists, and more. This is extremely helpful and keeps me organized, especially since I am able to use it wherever I am and have the ease of portability using the iPad. As a Deaf Blind individual who isn’t able to work full-time, and being on a fixed budget, having the ability to apply and be accepted for the Access Through Technology program has been wonderful. A technologist came out to assist me with learning the layout of the iMac and how to set up accessibility features on it. I’m truly thankful for everything that the Access Through Technology program has provided me with and all the support their staff have given me. I can’t say enough good things about my experience with their program and their awesome staff.”

Learn More

To learn more about the Access Through Technology Program and see if you or someone you know might qualify visit For the national website, visit

AT Reuse News and Events

CT Schools Can Transfer Assistive Technology Devices to Graduating Students

Written by Gretchen Knauff, Director, Office of Services for Persons with Disabilities, City of New Haven

When children and young adults with disabilities leave a school system there is often a gap in services, especially when they transition from school to the adult service system or higher education opportunities. This gap is really evident for students who receive and use Assistive Technology (AT) devices as tools to assist them in their school programs. Generally, AT devices are returned to the school and the student must wait for a device from the adult service system. This can take months, leaving the student without the AT needed to accommodate their disability.

Did you know that this doesn’t have to happen?

Connecticut General Statute §10-76y, Assistive Devices, addresses this issue by allowing school districts, regional educational service centers, the Department of Education, and all other state and local governmental agencies concerned with education to loan, lease, or transfer an assistive device to the student, the student’s family or to a profit or nonprofit entity that serves people with disabilities.

What if the school purchased the device less than a year ago?

It’s okay. The school can loan, lease, or transfer the assistive device at any time. It does not have to be a surplus item. If the device is sold or leased, the cost would be determined by the depreciated value of the device. The school district may also transfer the device without a cost to student or family. Any sale, lease or transfer is recorded in a written agreement between the school district and the student, family or organization receiving the device.

Is there a benefit for the school district?

Yes, there are multiple benefits. School districts were reluctant to sell the devices because the money would go back to the municipality and not the school district. CGS §10-76y(b) directs the funds from the sale or lease of an assistive device to remain with the local or regional board of education serving the student. The money can be used to buy updated equipment rather than having an obsolete piece of equipment sit in a closet collecting dust. Everybody wins, especially the student with the disability!

AT Success Stories News and Events

A Booklover’s Story of Finding Her Voice

Co-authored by Ann Bedard, EASTCONN and Meredith Daggett

Sydney Daggett’s early life started in Texas alongside her twin sister, Maddie. Early on, her family noticed Syd was globally delayed. All of the typical milestones that babies and toddlers experience came much later for Sydney.

Sydney in her Book Nook

Years of Birth-to-Three services, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Speech Therapy helped, but her family knew this would be a lifelong adventure. Syd’s mother, Meredith, knew she wanted to research every area to help Syd grow. She knew technology was improving and asked Syd’s school if she could try using an iPad to communicate. Syd used it minimally at first, but it proved to be a way to get her basic needs met.

After Syd’s father passed away unexpectedly when Syd was 7 years old, the family moved back to Connecticut. School staff and doctors diagnosed Syd as being on the Autism Spectrum among other diagnoses. They found out Syd has apraxia, which is a motor disorder that makes it hard to speak. This is the point where Syd’s mom knew they had to invest time and consistency in her talker (iPad with a speech-generating app). Fast forward to age 17 and Syd wears her talker as an extension of herself every day. It has become her communication with her world.

“She gets all her needs met, often asking for pizza and Chinese food daily! Drives us crazy and she’s lucky she’s cute! She can tell jokes and join conversations because of her talker,” Syd’s mom, Meredith shares. “We realize Syd is one of the lucky ones who had the opportunity to use a talker, have lots of school support and have the training that comes along with a talker. This didn’t just happen though, it took years of advocating for Syd, patience, and getting all the support she needs.”

Now her family’s mission is to give back. Syd’s Book Shack & Boutique is a non-profit business created from their experience. Currently located in Guilford, CT, (and soon to be moving to a larger location in Madison, CT) the store is open 6 days a week selling used and rare books, handcrafted jewelry, and unique gifts. They want to raise awareness and funds towards supplying talkers to those who do not have access.

“We want to use this nonprofit as a way to acquire talkers for those who do not have the resources Syd has,” her mom explains. “Our plan is considering other avenues to help and benefit our community kids too. We wish to be able to give young adults like Syd job training and social skills using the store as the vehicle. All of us want this to be a community hang out where all are welcome and greeted with a smile. We have met so many amazing people along the way and look forward to meeting so many more.” To reach out, please visit:, @sydsbookshack,

Events News and Events

SCSU Creating Switch-Adapted Toys for Local School

Toys and switches on table from SCSU's Adaptive Toys Workshopby Lauren Tucker, Ed.D.

The graduate students in Southern Connecticut State University’s Assistive Technology Program participated in an adapted toy workshop this spring to learn how to increase the accessibility for many toys. Unfortunately, many switch-adapted toys are very expensive and have limited options. To learn the process of adapting and to give back to the community, the SCSU Special Education department purchased toys and the materials for graduate students to adapt several toys.

SCSU graduate students learned a solder-free method of toy adaptation using lever nuts.  They explored the essential components of toy adapting, wiring, and circuitry. After the toys were adapted by the SCSU students, they were donated to ACES Village School in North Haven.  As stated on their website, Village School provides collaborative educational, emotional, and physical services to children ages 3 to 14 years with a range of cognitive, physical, behavioral, language, and medical challenges.

Village School celebrates the diversity of their student population through innovative and individualized instruction. The teachers and speech pathologists were able to utilize the switch adapted toys in their classrooms for cause and effect activities, teaching motor skills, and recreation! The adapted toys included a spin art activity, a dancing pig, a dancing cactus and more! The SCSU Assistive Technology program is excited to continue their toy adapting workshop in the future semesters. Click here to view a video summary of the workshop class.

Announcement News and Events

SCSU New Assistive Technology Certificate

Written by Lauren Tucker, Ed.D.

sample badge awarded for participation in SCSU's Assistive Technology Graduate Certificate program

Southern Connecticut State University is excited to be offering an Assistive Technology Graduate Certificate (ATC) starting Fall 2022.  This 12-credit program focuses on assistive technology (AT) across the lifespan through four hybrid graduate courses with hands-on project-based learning experiences.

Also, this program is ideal for any professionals supporting students or adults with disabilities or aging individuals who would like to learn more about assistive technology. One course reviews assistive technology for reading, writing, math, and executive functioning tasks.

Another focuses on AT for access across multiple environments (school, community and home, for example). The AT Assessment course introduces the AT assessment process including various approaches, formats, report writing, and implementation. In addition, the final course is an on-campus assistive technology clinic, where AT evaluations and trainings are conducted with members of the community. Interested in what a typical class is like? Check out our Instagram account: @scsuassitivetech. The hybrid approach to learning focuses on-campus sessions on project-based learning through technology exploration, programming, and creation.

In addition to the graduate certificate, a series of five digital badges will be awarded as each course is completed. Digital badges can be utilized on email signatures, resumés, and profiles to demonstrate specific skill sets and expertise developed through the courses.

If you are interested in learning more, please contact Lauren Tucker (  You can also learn more on our website:



AT Success Stories News and Events

AT Tools Benefit Student with Complex Learning Needs

by Stacey Fulton, EASTCONN

A student diagnosed with Dyslexia, poor phonological awareness, impacted by ADHD and speech apraxia was referred to EASTCONN for an AT evaluation, specifically focused on written expression. (The student was using some tools for accessing text and more recommendations were added for reading as a result of the evaluation.) Her handwriting was legible, but due to her very poor phonological awareness, it was difficult to decipher what she was trying to say. Prior to requesting an AT evaluation, the student was utilizing Read & Write’s word prediction feature on a Chromebook, but she was taking excessive amounts of time to complete writing tasks, resulting in frustration and eventually shutting down.

One issue was that the student had significant difficulties and took excessive amounts of time just logging into her Chromebook (even when provided with a visual of information for her account). Once logged in, she had difficulties finding the keys on the keyboard quickly. The student was bright, creative and had great ideas, but even the simplest words required a lot of effort and energy for her to spell despite the assistance of Word Prediction.

When using the word prediction, she was usually able to come up with the first letter of a word. Each time she typed a letter, she used the text-to-speech features to listen to the long list of words predicted. This required extensive time and energy and the student often became so frustrated, she was allowed to dictate her sentences while the staff scribed for her. Speech-to-text was also trialed by the district using Voice Typing (Google Docs), but because of her poor articulation, there were a significant number of errors (at the one-word level and sentence level).   It was felt that AT programs that provided the words (like Clicker Writer) would limit her ideas and creativity.

EASTCONN’s evaluator trialed Co:Writer Universal using topic dictionaries. Use of the topic dictionaries significantly helped this student as the words she wanted to use came up quickly (after 1 or 2 letters) and she was able to select the correct word by listening (out of a choice of 5). In addition, this evaluator trialed Co:Writer on the iPad and found that the student was quicker and more efficient with finding the letters on the on-screen keyboard and accessing the predicted words above the keyboard.

With everything in the same visual plane and no login, she became much more efficient. With the help of these tools, the student can be more independent and successful with some writing tasks, lessening the frustration and increasing the confidence in herself.

After a period of time using the recommended tools, the teacher reported: “EASTCONN found tools to unlock so many reading and writing tasks. They loaned us an iPad from their lending library (which proved to be a gamechanger, versus third grade’s traditional use of a Chromebook). After practicing in the resource room, she has now generalized her use of the AT into the general education classroom.”

News and Events Smart Home Tech

How to Use Assistive Technology to Promote Independent Living

By Jillian Day,

Man using a tablet and smart pen while sitting on his bed.

Assistive technology (AT) can make life easier for people in many ways. For example, seniors with limited mobility can benefit from voice-activated smart assistants to handle basic tasks like turning on lights and seeing who is at the door. However, people of all ages can benefit from these cutting-edge tools. The Connecticut Tech Act Project helps people with disabilities and aging adults discover the many uses of assistive technology. Read on to learn how AT can help you and simplify your life.

Make working from home a breeze with the right tech

Whether you’re a small business owner or an employee, if you deal with telecommuting, you’re likely already familiar with some commonly used tech tools, like Zoom for video conferencing. However, there are many other useful apps and software available. Here are 10 essential tools and apps for work from home employees, like Trello, which can help you organize your projects and tasks.

Enjoy greater peace of mind if you live independently with smart security tools

Smart tech can also help make your home more secure. Modern security systems create interlinked networks that make it easy to monitor your home. For example, a comprehensive package might include security cameras and motion sensors that you can control from your phone. If the cameras or motion sensors detect unusual activity, they will send an alert to your phone. You can then control the camera to view the issue. If it’s not a threat, like a wild animal, you can ignore it. If it’s an issue, like an intruder, you can notify the police. Here are some tips to choose the best smart home security gadgets for you.

Improve your personal self-care with smart tools

Smart technology can also help you take care of your most important asset: your own physical health. For example, you can use apps to help track your diet and exercise. There are also apps available to support your mental health, such as guided meditation apps. If you take medications, you can use apps or smart pillboxes to help you remember to take them on time. Here is a roundup of the best mental health apps for 2022 written by a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Make the most of smart tech when you’re on the go

Assistive technology isn’t just for use in the home or workplace. It can also prove practical when you’re on the go, from using your phone’s hands-free voice assistant to set reminders or check directions – helping to ensure safety when you’re on the road – to using your smart phone to create grocery or shopping lists. Apps like GasBuddy that help you find the most affordable gas prices in your area helping you save valuable money can be essential right now.

Keep connected with loved ones with cutting-edge innovation

Assistive technology can help you enjoy a more independent lifestyle and can allow you to stay connected with family, friends and your community more easily. From having “face to face” interactions via video call tools or playing games together on the internet, here are apps that will help you social distance without feeling isolated.

Assistive technology is no longer the stuff of science fiction movies. It’s already helping people of all ages enjoy less stressful and more independent lives. The above guide provides some pointers on how to incorporate smart tech into your life.

AT Reuse News and Events

Supply Chain Challenges, AT3 Center publication

AT Reutilization Programs have never been more important

State and Territory Assistive Technology Act Programs face a number of challenges, and two years into the pandemic, supply chain issues have rippled well beyond the ER and personal protective equipment to include non-COVID-related medical supplies. The AT3 Center Issue Brief highlights the work of Assistive Technology Reutilization Programs to bridge the gap. We hope you find this publication helpful and encourage you to share this Issue Brief with others.