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Assistive Technology: What is a tablet/PC?

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We received an interesting question from a principal who had a recommendation from a psychologist for assistive technology. As many principals know, psychological assessments tend to be quite samey and one would be forgiven in thinking there was a template that was published and names were interchanged. One area where this seems to be the case a lot of the time is when it comes to recommendations for assistive technology.

Up until recently, most reports came back with a recommendation for a laptop, Dragon Dictation software and Read, Write, Gold software. Sometimes, Clicker would be recommended too. It didn’t seem to matter what the diagnosis was and often I’d shake my head when I saw a 6-year old being recommend a laptop when I knew all he/she needed was a trackball or even a simple switch. Being completely honest, I have never received a report where an actual piece of assistive technology was recommended.

This year, psychological reports have changed their recommendation from “laptop” to something something along the lines of “tablet/PC” or “laptop/iPad” or a combination of things. However “tablet/PC” could be read in a few ways.

It could mean a tablet OR a PC. A PC is a personal computer or desktop computer and they cannot be carried around. However a PC is a generic term for most devices like laptops or netbooks and so on.

Another meaning is that it could be a combination of the two, that is a tablet and PC in one. These devices are becoming very common and the picture below is an example of what it might look like.


These devices can look like laptops but they have a removable keyboard, which then turns the laptop into a tablet. The screen is a touchscreen so it can be used like this. There are lots of flavours of these such as Microsoft Surface and some Chromebooks. However, if your school is using Microsoft Windows in general, I’d probably go for a Microsoft Windows-based one such as Surface or any other reputable brand.

Many reports suggest iPads but I have found them to be very restrictive unless they are used for communication purposes rather than for typing or other Office-related activities.

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