AT Technology Skills Scope and Sequence: iPad

What tech skills should your elementary student expected to know in order to keep up with his/her peers? After several years of wondering, researching, and waiting for "someone" to come up with an answer, I've decided to start the ball rolling. As general education classrooms have embraced technology and tech skills, TVI's need technology resources and best practice guidelines. Here are some facts: Students with vision enter kindergarten with tech skills; these students are using tablets and smart phones to access age-appropriate music, videos and educational games. Fact: By third grade, general education students are expected to take online/digital high-stakes assessments. These digital assessments are the driving force for students to have mastered technology skills by the end of third grade. It has also been determined that students need three years to truly master each tech skill. Students are typically Introduced to a new tech skill in year one, the tech skill is Reinforced in year two, and the tech skill is Mastered in year three.

Students who use a screen reader are expected to learn all of the general education national tech standards along with specific skills related to their assistive technology and/or unique needs of being visually impaired. I would like to start a national discussion to align assistive tech skills with the national tech standards. Creating a quick checklist sounded like a wonderful idea - I cannot believe "someone" has not already created this checklist!  Then reality set in. The scope of this project is gigantic and a checklist that covered everything would either be cumbersome and overwhelming or would be too general to be useful. The mostly commonly used national tech standards are very general statements, are open to interpretation and do not provide skills broken down to a level that they can be easily checked off. Then, when you consider the number of mainstream devices and applications available, top it off with additional assistive technology skills, it is impossible to come up with a simple checklist that covers everything.  

Where does that leave us? Let's narrow down the job by choosing a target group: this project will cover K-5 students who are/will be using a screen reader. The majority of young students who will rely on a screen reader start on an iPad, so we will narrow down our initial project to iPads with VoiceOver.  (Note: While an iPad is a wonderful tool to start with, students who use a screen reader definitely need to transition to a computer by middle school! Braille note takers and other touch screen tablets are also options.) Next, let's pick a mainstream tech skills list and align our AT skills with it. For several years now, the Common Core State Standards K-12 Technology Skills Scope and Squence  has been my go-to resource. (Let's shorten the name to National Scope and Sequence.) Note: This is a terrific resource - you will want to print a copy of it and keep it handy! 

The K-5 portion of the National Scope and Sequence is broken down into these areas:

  • Basic Operations
  • Word Processing
  • Spreadsheet (Tables/Charts and Graphs) 
  • Multimedia and Presentation Tools
  • Accepetable Use, Copyright and Plagiarism

The National Scope and Sequence includes when each skill is Introduced, Reinforced and Mastered by grade level.

Note that the National Scope and Sequence shows that almost all of the mainstream goals listed here are mastered by third grade, with the exception of the spreadsheet goals. This supports that students need to be efficient with using technology by the end of third grade. (After third grade, students are applying their tech knowledge to additional apps, but are rarely learning new commands, etc.

Assistive Technology Scope and Sequence

The Assistive Technology Scope and Sequence Chart (AT Scope and Sequence) has been aligned to the original Common Core State Standards K-12 Technology Skills Scope and Squence. AT-related tech skills have been embedded into the document when appropriate and an additional area, Additional Assistive Technology Skills, has been added to the bottom of the document. The majority of the goals and the associated grade levels are exactly the same as the National Technology Scope and Sequence. The Alignment column has been added on the left side to indicate if the tech skill is the Same (S), Adapted Skill (AS) or and Added Assistive Skill (+AT). If a tech skill has been adapted by eliminating a part of the skill, the part that was eliminated is underlined. (A few skills were eliminated because the skill is currently not appropriate for a blind or low vision student.) If the entire skill is questionable for a blind or low vision student, that skill is shaded in grey and has "N/A age appropriate". These skills, such as changing font style, may be appropriate for older grades.  One goal is about using painting and drawing tools; since painting/drawing tools are typically not accessible with a screen reader, this goal is listed as not appropriate (NA).

Note: Numbers have been added beside each goal. These numbers will be used in future posts that link Paths to Technology tech lessons and activities posts to specific goals. These posts will go into greater detail on which gestures and commands are used to complete the task and many posts are specific lessons that can be used to teach the skill.

Both the original National Scope and Sequence and the AT Scope and Sequence charts have color-coded symbols to represent the level of mastery by grade level: Optional (Orange O) Introduce (Yellow I), Reinforced (Purple R) and Mastery (Green M). Mastery is defined as the ability to teach others.

Image 1: Photo of the first five lines of the AT Scope and Sequence Chart. The first column is "Alignment." It is numbered and indicates if the goal is the same, adapted or added compared to the original Scope and Sequence chart. The second column lists the tech skills. Grades K-5 each have columns; these grade columns have symbols to indicate the level of mastery for that skill and grade. See the attached AT Scope and Sequence Chart iPad 2 for the full chart.

Photo of the first 5 tech skills on the AT Scope and Sequence Chart.

Please keep in mind that the AT Scope and Sequence is a living document and it is currently the first draft. Join the discussion!

  • What tech-related skills are missing?
  • While the grade levels for the original goals remain the same, do you agree with the grade levels for students who are using a screen reader, or should a student using a screen reader be introduced to the goal earlier?
  • Did you find the AT Scope and Sequence helpful?
  • Would it be beneficial to create AT Scope and Sequence for other devices or ages? 

If you have suggestions or comments, please email me or leave a message in the comments below.


The following post are lessons and strategies that support the individual skills listed in the AT Scope and Sequence chart.

AT TEchnology Skills Scope and Sequence Pinterest tag


Posted by athompsonJan 05, 2022

Diane, I LOVE THIS LIST! Can you add customizing the Rotor on there or at least introducing the concept that they can customize the features listed on the rotor?

Posted by Diane BraunerJan 05, 2022

athompson, great idea! To the "learn and use rotor commands" skill, I added a bullet point "Customized rotor settings (Introduced in 1st grade)." Is first grade Introduction correct? I typically introduce basic rotor skills in kind kindergarten (often with BTK or braille display commands, as young students oftten struggle physically with the rotor gesture).

Also added:

Learn about accessibility features (Introduce in K)

  • Choose and adjust settings as needed (Introduce in 1st)

FYI: I will add the updates to the document in this post after more people share their ideas.

Posted by mplanskerJan 11, 2022

Hey Diane,

Talk about overwhelming but very needed. Wow.  Here are some thoughts on items to add:

Line 1:  Turning device off. (especially on new devices that require pressing and holding 2 keys to turn off. 

Line 2: Turn on VO.  Maybe add sub skills of selecting a voice and adjusting the speed.

Line 3:  Accessing open apps and closing if needed.  Navigating to the home screen with either home button or swipe on the new devices without buttons.  

That's all I have for now.  

One question I've thought about since the pandemic and all the tech, is just how are we going to be able to fit in basic braille literacy with all the tech that is now expected at such young ages.  The reading and tech alone are an awful lot for kids to be proficient with by 3rd grade.   

Posted by Diane BraunerJan 11, 2022

Thanks mplaster for the suggestions and comments! I'll incorporate suggestions! My thought is to add the VoiceOver specific commands to the section at the bottom - Additional Assistive Technology Skills - unless the command/skill is required to complete the task designated by the National Scope and Sequence. 

It is a lot of teaching to squeeze into the school day. Honestly, that is a huge issue without an easy solution. Learning tech in today's classroom is a lot like learning to read: students learn to use tech until third grade and then students use tech to access learning after 3rd grade. Since gen ed students are starting so early with tech (as toddlers/preschoolers) and are independent and proficient with tech by 3rd grade, our students who are blind and low vision need to be learning tech as the same pace; otherwise, our students will be struggle to stay up with their peers after third grade when tech is used to access materials and to complete assignments/tests. Finding time to teach everything is certainly a challenge!

Posted by athompsonJan 12, 2022

Hi, Mplankster! I think it's going to boil down to AT specialists taking on most of the tech instruction and TVIs doing the braille. There is so much tech thats varied and changes frequently so it's difficult for TVIs to catch up -- almost like students get O&Ms, TVIs, and CATIS/AT instructors. Good additions to this checklist!

Posted by Diane BraunerMar 16, 2022

Note: The AT Scope and Squence Chart iPad 2 has been added! This is an updated version (3/16/22) of the chart, to include suggestions that YOU shared. Please continue to provide input, not only the specific goals, but also input on WHEN these goals should be introduced.

The first three areas now have an associated blog post with links to associated posts containing lessons and resources (including "big picture" information such as why these skills should be taught and the foundation that these simple skills provide for higher level educational skills). More posts are coming.

Would a quick video tutorial for each section be helpful? The video tutorial could cover the gestures and commands on how to navigate/complete the tasks listed in each section.

Posted by mplanskerMar 16, 2022

I think a short video tutorial would be great.