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Assistive Technology Evaluation & Implementation

Assistive Technology Literature Review

AT Evaluation and Implementation Model a Literature Review

This post can give educators some literature to use in grants and budget rationales in your school districts and/or buildings.

In one-to-one iPad districts, all students will potentially have access to an iPad. For a student with learning differences, an AT evaluation and implementation plan will be instrumental in providing structured support for the iPad to be used as AT. An effective AT evaluation model is one that takes into account the student’s abilities, necessary tasks, and school environment. Zabala’s Student, Environment, Tasks, and Tools (SETT) model provides a comprehensive road map for educators considering AT (2006). In addition to SETT, there is a wealth of resources for teachers to help create AT plans and assess students’ current AT functioning (Ault & Bausch, 2013). The Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology (QIAT) provides extensive information related to AT evaluation, implementation resources, and environmental concerns and can function as a guide for administrators and teachers (Zabala, 2012). Some examples of AT resources are:

Due to the flurry of attention surrounding mobile technologies, there are also new evaluations addressing the complexity of assessing apps (mobile software applications) on iPads. The Council for Exceptional Children’s 2011 Apps for All Students: A Teacher’s Desktop Guide includes a checklist for considering sensory issues related to auditory, visual, cognitive and sensory impairments (Ault & Bausch, 2013). Each one of these evaluations provides guidance for teachers when considering the whole student, the environment, and the tasks or skills the student is working toward. There is a wide research foundation on the effectiveness of using AT evaluations and their benefits in providing a road map for a comprehensive AT implementation for students being served through special education. Myles and Rogers (2014) provided research using the SETT for students with autism using AT and utilized the SETT as a way to guide questions for AT implementation, executive functioning needs and task analysis criteria specific to student needs. Bryant, Bryant, and Ok (2014) outlined a comprehensive AT plan for students with learning disabilities in the areas of writing, reading and mathematics using the SETT as a way to frame AT implementation and inquiry about AT effectiveness.

The literature also presents critical barriers to the use of AT, specifically iPads, and these barriers result in their abandonment and reversion to non-AT methods, as we saw with John’s team. First, the nature of mobile technology systems is that they change and require updating at a speed that often outpaces their initial roll out. This forces school systems to secure continued funding for teaching expertise to maintain and update technology being used as AT. In addition, Yell (2012) explained that these challenges require sufficient federal funding to comply with legislative requirements of AT inclusion in students’ educational programs. These issues are compounded for K-12 students with visual impairments and/or multiple impairments as technology being used as AT continues to evolve and these students fall farther behind (Erin, 2012). Specifically, in special education classrooms, working with students with visual impairments (TVI) and additional impairments presents a complex set of issues and challenges to a new teacher. Teachers need to juggle issues surrounding AT use that include but are not limited to accessibility issues, training of other teaching professionals and paraeducators, collaborating and connecting with family members, understanding the complexity of need around a set of disabilities, and being able to solve input and output issues with AT (Copley & Ziviani, 2004; Zhou, et. al., 2012). There may be an AT expert employed by the district to help ameliorate some of these issues, but many school districts do not have a dedicated team member to stay current on new technologies and facilitate evaluation, instruction, and progress monitoring (Hastings & Hune, 2013; Presley & D’Andrea, 2009).

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