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EDUREC: Let’s Be Perfectly Clear!: Understanding “Accessible” & “Assistive” Technologies


Is it "accessible?" Is it "assistive?" Can it be both? These terms can be confusing and may have more than one meaning "out there" in the world at large. Join us to explore, compare, and contrast these terms as they relate to individuals with disabilities and the ways in which understanding them is a critical element of equity in education, employment, and life.

Learning Objectives

First Learning Objective: Define "accessible" in the context of individuals with disabilities and list 3 ways to increase accessibility
Second Learning Objective: Define "assistive" and explain 2 important elements of the definition.
Third Learning Objective: Describe one or more situations where a "technology" may serve as both "assistive" and "accessible". 

Primary Strand

Education and Learning

Secondary Strand


Target Audience

  • Accessibility Professional
  • ADA Coordinator
  • Administrators
  • AT Specialists
  • Alternative Media Specialist
  • Caregivers
  • Communication Specialist
  • Consumers/Individuals with Disabilities
  • Consultants/Trainers
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Disability Services
  • Educators
  • Faculty/Instructors - Higher Education
  • Family Members
  • Government/Non-Profit Agencies
  • Instructional Technologist
  • Media Specialist
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Paraprofessionals
  • Physical Therapists
  • Rehab Therapists
  • Speech-Language Pathologists
  • Special Education Educators
  • Teachers of the Visually Impaired
  • Teachers of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing
  • Transition Coordinator
  • Visual Impairment Specialists
  • Vocational Rehabilitation

Experience Level


Primary Life Cycle Addressed


Content Area

Related Area

Course Schedule

This course was included in the ATIA 2021: AT Connected virtual event education program.

Continuing Education Credits

For Satisfactory Completion and Continuing Education information, please visit: ATIA Online Education CEUs

Start date of ASHA CEUs offering: January 20, 2021

ASHA Continuing Education Approved Provider

This course is offered for 0.05 ASHA CEUs (Introductory level, Related area).

This course is offered for the following CE Provider Credits:
For: 0.10 CEU Units or 1.0 CEU Hours.


Joy Zabala, Ed.D.



Joy Smiley Zabala, Ed.D. is the Director of Technical Assistance at CAST. She is the developer of the SETT Framework (, a founder of QIAT ( and the facilitator of the QIAT List. She is a strong supporter of Universal Design for Learning, accessible materials and accessible and assistive technologies as complementary supports for the participation and achievement of all students across the lifespan.

Relevant Financial Relationship: Yes
Part-time salaried employee at CAST, Inc. Fees for occasional contracted work; Speaking honoraria for occasional speaking engagements; Intellectual property rights to the SETT Framework; Publishing royalties as the co-author of two QIAT books published by CAST Publishing, Inc. Registration and honorarium as Education Chair of ATIA Conference.

Relevant Non-Financial Relationship: Yes
Developer of the SETT Framework and member of the Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology (QIAT) leadership team.

Cynthia Curry

CAST, Director, AEM Center & Co-Director, CITES


Cynthia Curry is a Project Director at CAST. She began her career as a middle and high school science teacher, and discovered the power of assistive technology and Universal Design for Learning while a graduate student. At CAST, Cynthia directs the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials for Learning and co-directs the Center on Inclusive Technology & Education Systems. She has worked at state, local, and higher education agencies to ensure access to technology for learners with disabilities. Cynthia served as a Statewide UDL, AT, and AEM Integration Mentor for the Maine Department of Education’s 1:1 technology initiative. At the University of Southern Maine, she was a lecturer in Teacher Education and directed a U.S. Department of Education grant to merge the University’s pre-service special and general education pathways. Prior to her current position, she was Coordinator of Disability Services and an Instructional Designer at the University of New England.

Relevant Financial Relationship: Yes
Cynthia Curry is employed by CAST, Inc. The grant project under which she is proposing this presentation is funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

Relevant Non-Financial Relationship: Yes
Cynthia Curry sits on the advisory boards of Bookshare and NIMAC, the two co-presenting organizations. No compensation is received.