What is assistive technology (AT)?

Assistive technologies are tools (devices, software or hardware) that can help students with special needs to achieve their educational goals. These tools may be as simple as a wireless mouse or as complex as a refreshable Braille display.

How do BC schools provide AT for students with special needs?

BC school districts provide a wide range of educational programs and supports for students with special needs. Most students who require AT as part of their individual educational plans receive this support within their own districts. Districts may request additional AT services for some students through Special Education Technology – British Columbia (SET-BC).

What is SET-BC?

SET-BC is a Ministry of Education program that works in partnership with all BC school districts, including Group 1 and 2 independent schools. SET-BC lends assistive technologies to districts for students’ use and provides consultation, training, resources, and support for the educational use of these technologies.

Which students are eligible to receive services from SET-BC?

SET-BC helps districts to provide AT services for students whose access to the curriculum is restricted primarily due to the following disabilities:

  1. physical disabilities
  2. autism spectrum disorders
  3. moderate to profound intellectual disabilities
  4. dependent handicaps
  5. visual impairments
  6. deafblindness

Each year, SETBC provides new technology solutions for approximately 800 students across the province. While services are equitably distributed to districts, their requests for SET-BC support are limited by available funding. Districts have screening processes to determine which students will be put forward to SET-BC, and which students will be supported within-district.

Who do I ask about SET-BC services for my child?

You can contact your child’s school team to discuss his or her educational program and need for assistive technology. You can also contact the SET-BC District Partner for your district, who coordinates SET-BC services and helps identify students who require AT services.

What happens when my child is selected for SET-BC service?

SET-BC asks school teams to complete Request for Service forms for students who are selected for service. The teams, including students and parents, meet with SET-BC consultants to develop Collaborative Action Plans, which identify strategies and technologies that best meet students’ educational goals. Following these meetings, SET-BC consultants arrange for the provision of technology, as well as any training or classroom resources that are needed.


What if my child has a technology assessment by a health / community agency?

These assessments or reports on students’ strengths and needs can be helpful when identifying technology solutions. They should be discussed during the Collaborative Action Plan meeting to ensure that the recommendations support students’ educational goals.

What types of technology does SET-BC provide?

SET-BC provides desktop and laptop computers, with specialized software for reading, writing and communication. SET-BC also provides speech generating devices, Braille and low-vision devices and alternate access peripherals. School districts supply appropriate educational, productivity and virus protection software, and also arrange access to printers, school networks and the Internet as required.

How will my child learn to use technology?

School teams can take part in a wide range of SET-BC workshops and presentations. Team members learn technology skills and strategies and acquire resources that will help them support student use of technology in the classroom. Students learn to use their AT as part of their ongoing educational program, with instruction and support from school team members.

SET-BC also provides online access to training and resources at www.setbc.org. Our website contains useful audio presentations, software demonstrations, student videos, and tutorials, as well as collections of adapted curriculum resources.

Can SET-BC technology be used at home?

SET-BC loans technology to BC school districts for individual students, therefore district policies on appropriate technology use apply to SET-BC loans. District and school administrators make decisions about the use of technology at home or in the community.

Who provides technical support for SET-BC technologies?

School teams who need technical support or repair for equipment on loan from SET-BC can contact the SET-BC Support Desk. Phone 1-866-738-3375 or 604-269-2222 in the Vancouver area, or send email to support@setbc.org.