What is SWAAAC?

The Colorado Department of Education supports a network of assistive technology teams across all school districts in the state of Colorado. These teams are called SWAAAC teams. The name goes back to an original acronym for the project... StateWide Augmentative and Alternative Communication. The acronym has been updated with a third "A" to represent assistive technology.

SWAAAC Teams are interdisciplinary teams comprised of professionals such as speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, special educators, psychologists and para-professionals. They provide expert assistive technology services in school and classroom settings within the schools in their district. These services are designed to enable students with disabilities to achieve full access and participation in all educational opportunities.

In the broadest sense, Assistive Technology (AT) is any tool or device that helps a person with a disability function more effectively or independently at home, school, work or play. It is an important means to compensate for the effects of impairment and allows a person to accomplish his or her goals. Assistive technology includes not only a device but the services that enable students to benefit from them. These services can include: training the student and classroom staff in its use, consulting on the positioning or mounting of the device, and coordination with other services. In the school setting, AT can provide students with equal access to information and learning in the classroom and the world. Assistive technology may help students with physical disability, speech impairment, visual or hearing impairment, and learning differences. A successful AT intervention combines the efforts and support of the student, his or her parents, the classroom teacher and the supporting educational team.

What is the SWAAAC mission?

SWAAAC teams provide expert, multi-disciplinary assistive technology services to enable students with disabilities full access and participation in all educational opportunities.

What is the SWAAAC vision?

  • Colorado will promote educational equity and excellence for students with disabilities!
  • All learners will achieve high standards of performance!
  • Families, educators and communities will share information and resources!

Do I have a SWAAAC Team or an Assistive Technology Team in my school district?

Most school districts have SWAAAC teams to serve their students with disabilities and support them in acquiring an education. Whether these teams are named SWAAAC Teams or Assistive Technology Teams, they provide the same services to students. Check with your Special Education Department in your school district if you do not see your school district in the list of districts in the SWAAAC Team contact list that is part of this website.

What is Assistive Technology?

IDEA Statute: TITLE I / A / 602 Sec. 602 DEFINITIONS.

    (1) Assistive technology device.--
    (A) In general.--The term 'assistive technology device' means 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 a child with a disability.
    (B) Exception.--The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of such device.

    (2) Assistive technology service.--The term `assistive technology service' means any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. Such term includes--
    (A) the evaluation of the needs of such child, including a functional evaluation of the child in the child's customary environment;
    (B) purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by such child;
    (C) selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing assistive technology devices;
    (D) coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs;
    (E) training or technical assistance for such child, or, where appropriate, the family of such child; and
    (F) training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals providing education and rehabilitation services), employers, or other individuals who provide services to, employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of such child.

How does AT support Standards Based Education?

The Common Core State Standards articulate rigorous grade-level expectations. These standards identify the knowledge and skills students need in order to be successful in college and careers. In order for students with disabilities to meet high academic standards and to fully demonstrate their conceptual and procedural knowledge and skills in mathematics, reading, writing, speaking, and listening (English language arts), their instruction must incorporate supports and accommodations, including:

  • Active participation
  • Successful learning
  • Demonstration of knowledge

AT is a powerful asset for a student to use in order to read, write, or communicate. IEP Team members who are considering AT should examine available data and observations about the student, and ask whether the student may need assistive technology:

  • to be in the least restrictive environment (LRE)
  • to meaningfully participate in the general curriculum
  • to participate in learning activities
  • access educational/print materials, including textbooks to access auditory information
  • for written communication/computer access
  • for augmentative communication
  • to participate in state and local assessments

Is there an alternative to taking the Colorado State Assesment Test?

The Colorado Department of Education has adopted the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) as an alternative to the CMAS. Click here to find out more information.

Who refers students to get services from the SWAAAC team that serves a school district?

Any person who is a member of an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) or IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan) team may initiate a referral to the local SWAAAC team. The contact information for these teams is located on this website and is updated as team memberships change.

What data is SWAAAC collecting??

We are currently collecting two data points from every SWAAAC team:
  1. Out of all of the IEPs in your district, how many of them have Assistive Technology (AT) checked on the IEP? (On the IEP, under the Special Considerations section 7, there is a question that asks if the student requires AT. We want to know how many IEPs have “yes” checked.)
  2. Of those working in an AT capacity, what is your paid FTE? (How much in your district’s budget is set aside for an AT person(s).

Definition of AT Professional FTE: SWAAAC/Assistive Technology Professional FTE refers to a percentage of regularly scheduled time dedicated exclusively to the provision of skilled Assistive Technology Services and is expressly documented as such within the employee contract.

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If you think of a needed question or would like to contribute more questions and answers to this page, please contact Christina Perkins