Week 2 – Considering AT Discussion

This week let’s discuss how you consider assistive technology (AT) at your school and/or in case conference committee meetings. Did the PATINS Case Conference Committee Consideration article or the Wisconsin Assistive Technology Intiative (WATI) Resource Guide I recommended in the email I sent out (This is listed on the Blogroll at the right or can be found online at http://www.wati.org/Products/pdf/resource%20guide%20-%20general.pdf) or the SETT framework (on page 7 of your workbook) give you any good ideas for “considering” assistive technology with your students?


34 thoughts on “Week 2 – Considering AT Discussion”

  1. The two articles assigned this week were incredibly informational and appreciated. As a new assistive technology consultant for my district, I am continually searching for resources that address true consideration of assistive technology in the case conference and IEP. Unfortunately, many teachers in this district are stuck in the dark ages of considering AT only for severe cases. The documentation forms provided by PATINS are excellent evidence that assistive technology includes anything from low-tech pencil grips to high-tech speech recognition software, and that consideration is not a separate process but a process that parallels the development of the IEP.
    I so often hear, “we don’t know what there is available to us.” While communication between the AT department in my district and teachers is currently improving, many teachers are still intimidated by this process and would prefer not to know what resources are available to them. They would simply prefer to do it the way they’ve done it and be done with it. Regrettably, many teachers consider assistive technology only to be high tech devices. It is necessary for me to present the low-tech side of assistive technology in conjunction with the high-tech side to give everyone a fair chance at practicing this process without severe intimidation. Teachers: any ideas on how to do this without being incredibly overwhelming or overwhelmed? I am currently updating the AT portion of our website, as well as creating informational materials such as brochures and emails. Clearly, I am unable to attend every single IEP meeting for all of the schools in my six districts. How can I demonstrate the importance of true consideration, give reasonable recommendations, and introduce proper documentation without being a resource at every IEP meeting? Would some sort of a district-wide training be beneficial (after I complete this course and learn more about this area of course)?
    I appreciate these resources and plan to study and pass them on as necessary.


  2. Our special education cooperative has an assistive technology coordinator that provides teachers the training and support that they need to consider and implement AT devices in the classroom. She holds workshops and demonstrations that help ease the “pain” of consideration and implementation. I feel that a lack of knowledge is the main factor for the hesitantcy to implement assistive technology in our schools. With this class, we can spread the word that it is nothing to be afraid of and just think about the impact that it will have on our special population of students. 🙂

  3. The forms will be very helpful. I am not on our assistive tech team but I know one thing that I run into with teachers is that they get stuck in a rut and forget that there are other things out there or that new things come out. They are either afraid to use technology or afraid to learn new things even though it may be better in the long run.

  4. I think that ongoing frustration is the amount of time to learn something new, the amount of time to find someone to fix it when it gets broken or worn out, the frustration of parts ‘walking’ away, and of course the ongoing personal responsibility issue. I think it would be helpful if ISTAR was more friendly toward AT or if the prcedures and laws concerning AT were more user friendly. While it would be too much to list every possible piece of AT in an IEP checklist, it would be better if frequently used items in catgories were given as guidelines. It would also be useful if the psychs, etc. on an assessment team had to list what they used during the assessment process that was useful.

    Knowing how to feature match with a child’s needs and strengths is an important skill. Sometimes forms funnel that into a more workable process.

    I am not aware of any assistive technology training in this cooperative other than ISTAR training in the last year however I have been able to go to Project Vision & Blumberg workshops which included AT.

  5. Teachers (special ed and general ed) do not know about AT in our district. They haven’t been told what is out there, they haven’t received funding to attend workshops or been offered worshops in their local districts. 99.9% of the teachers I have worked with in the past 29 years want their students to learn and be successful doing so. Many times they just don’t have the necessary tools to do their job.

    I think AT is wonderful. I have seen it allow many students to be successful in areas where they have struggled. However, it takes time to train students to use AT. As a TVI I love screen readers. Even the screen reader built into XP has been valuable for my students. But they just don’t learn to use it overnight because they are VI. I have to write specific goals about learning to use the AT into the IEP to make certain the teaching happens. Getting time with teachers who are already time-deprived is the most frustrating thing for me. How do you ask a teacher to stay after one more afternoon or to give up several more plan times? (I usually bring food!)

    Frameworks are great. IEP consideration is great. The time to train and implement is often woefully missing in action.

  6. Our cooperative has an Assistive Technology Team made up of a supervisor, SLP, OT, PT, HI and VI consultants. We have a set of forms the CCC is asked to complete when needing assistance in determining AT needs. The team consults with our PATINS rep. frequently. I found the CC consideration checklists very helpful along with the WASI that I scanned. Teachers in our area have various levels of knowledge about AT. I think providing a resource list of possible AT tools might be helpful for a CCC as they discuss the possible need for AT.

  7. I currently use those forms and a couple of others when e-teaming a student to consider AT. Our team meets prior to the case conference to provide input before the parents / student joins us. This saves on discussion time and keeps the cc at an appropriate length. The articles are a great resource to have to pass along to others for information as well.

  8. I found the articles very informative. The definition of assitive technology has helped me broaden my thinking of ways to help my LD students.
    Our system is open to looking at AT for our students, but we do not currently have an AT cordinator. Recently our corporation purchased new technology to help our LD students and it is a wonderful program if teachers would use it. Funding is a major problem when it comes to considering AT for students.

  9. I have only been asked to sit in on one IEP meeting in the time that I have been at Wa-Nee, and AT was not brought up. From what I have learned recently, there has been in the last two years, a complete change in the approach to AT and how it is reviewed during each IEP meeting. Although I am very rarely asked to sit in on these meetings, I have found that the information presented in the articles and booklets are extremely informative and helpful for everyone involved. We all eventually become Special Ed and ESL teachers because of the diversity that comes into our classrooms. It only takes a little time to observe a student during the learning process to see if there is comprehension, and it would only take another few seconds to see if there is something that a student could use to facilitate the learning process. In the information that we were given, this could be something as simple as a pencil with an adaptive grip, or the use of pictures and writing templates. If any student is struggling, there is a reason. Sometimes the solution is simple and easily remedied with a little observation. As an ESL teacher it is an ongoing learning process for me, and information like this is very helpful.

  10. Oh, I forgot to mention that we do use Rosetta Stone and are currently reviewing for consideration a software program system that will allow struggling students and ESL students to get assistance in their reading and writing on the computer while working on projects and assignments. There is considerable interaction with the program.

  11. Are school is just on the brink of looking into how to approach assistive technology thouroly and through good data collection. We have put together forms based on the ones in this mentioned this week and some others. We are starting to get administrative support, etc.. The biggest obstacle we have now is how to assess all 170+ students in our school and getting them using more assisitive technology (especially that technology which goes beyond blind specific). We are moving in the right direction but it is going to slow. I would also love to see our school higher a full-time assistive technology person who is use to working with all disabilities. We great on assistive technology for individuals who are visually impaired. But, there is so much more we can and need to tap into.

  12. The articles were very interesting and informative. There is no AT team in our school corporation but we try to contact PATINS when we are in need of some information. In my practice as an OT I use low tech AT on a daily basis and try to implement in the classroom as much as possible. Some teachers really appreciate the AT provided to the students but sometimes they feel it is an inconvinience. I just keep trying if I know that it really helps a student. The resources given are going to help me a lot with my students.

  13. Our corporation definitely needs to work on this AT “consideration” process. It will help that several of us are taking this course. I think that the documentation forms included in the article are a great way to look at ways to address all educational areas, without leaving something out. They will be very useful to us.

  14. It was helpful in the Bowser and Reed (2000) article how they defined “universal design”. I can see applying this thinking before the case conference meeting. In a pre-referral meeting it would be helpful to ask the teacher if they have attempted to account for the factors used to define universal design in their teaching style. This alone could lead to better interventions used before teachers refer students for special education. It seems that preventative methods are interventions so making these resources available to students and trying them out to determine the best fit would be a great intervention model.

  15. As seems to frequently happen, I read the articles and found myself seeing needed improvement in the way I approach something (in this case the use of assistive technology). I guess I tend to think of the expense first in many situations. Or I am not aware of the many options available. Reading these two articles opened my eyes even wider to the fact that we can and need to develop a process to follow when considering the use of assistive technology with our students. The responsibility does not have to fall on one person’s wealth of knowledge (or lack thereof). The potential to develop an assistive technology team is an exciting one. Thank you for bringing this information to all of us.

  16. As I read the articles for this week, I continually thought of ways that we could include AT discussions in case conferences in our corporation. We do not currently make this a typical part of our conferences. We do disucss modifications and accommodations. However, we tend to choose the same modifications each year without re-thinking the possibilities. This class helps me to think of new ways to provide assistance to students. I also like the pace of this class. I read the articles over the weekend, think about what I read all week, then blog on the next weekend. I appreciate learning what all of you are doing in your corporations. I am hopeful that our corporation can move ahead in this area.

  17. During our CC meetings, we really don’t discuss AT for our learning disabled students unless there is a significant problem (unable to read the student’s handwriting, unable to speak). We need to start discussing if it is necessary for all students.

  18. We do not use any specific forms to assist with AT considerations. Unfortunately, I have noticed the trend with AT, unless low-tech, is often initiated by parent inquiry. One of the articles briefly touched on one of my biggest dilemmas/ questions. How do you know and justify to teachers that the AT being introduced to the student does not pull away from skill development? Teachers often ask where the line of accountability is for a student using AT? I have found that to be a difficult question to answer, which I feel directly effects AT assessment and use in IEPs.

  19. I really enjoyed the articles about AT ideas and know that our school system needs to work on AT ideas for our students. Funding is the first thing that comes to mind but I also know that they do have things you can do to help students grow in ability that doesn’t cost a lot of money. I guess that we need to help people know what is out there to use on their students. I wonder if every admistrator, teacher, instructional assistant shouldn’t take a class like this.

  20. I found both articles to be informative and useful, especially the checklist in the cc article. It is something that I will keep handy and share with other Sp. Ed people in my school corporation. I found it interesting that other article is written from the parents perspective. I know people in my corporation who may not want that to get into every parent’s hand. On the other hand most of my student’s parents cannot read or don’t really care about the IEP process and have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the meetings and aren’t great advocates for their child. So it is doubly necessary that the cc team advocate for the child. Most of my parents are very intimidated with AT and don’t follow through with it at home very well. I also find teacher to be reluctant to follow through with AT in the classroom because it is too much trouble for them or they are intimidated with it. I’ve had several teachers not comply with use of an auditory trainer because they are just not comfortable with wearing a microphone. AT seems to work best in the Severe Intervention Classes where many of the students are in the same classroom most of the day and staff are used to using it. We do have many LD students using Alpha Smarts and similar devices which the student can more or less handle on their own once trained. I learn alot about low tech AT from our OT’s who know about all kinds of clever low tech items to help students and they are quite dependable about attending cc meetings. As I read other comments, I am becoming more and more impressed with what my school corporation is doing in regard to AT, but I am also learning from this course that there is much more they could be doing. One of my goals when this class is over is to share all of this information with our technology team.

  21. This weeks assignment reminded me of my responsibility when I attend CC meetings for the students I serve. May of have low tech AT that I forget to list. I noticed that many teachers had not considered items unless they were expensive or high tech. If I was more consistent in listing AT this would increase their awareness and not only help with that student but their future students.

  22. The resources from the reading assignments were excellent for presenting how to use a systematic approach for considering AT. I am wondering how a team can identify options and try them out before the IEP meeting, so that the IEP can feflect a plan to use the option(s) that work best.
    I do not work for a school system, but I assess
    individuals with disabilities who live and learn in all types of environments. I am curious about how to encourage the use of appropriate AT in home-schooling, in adult residential and day services, and in nursing homes. The process described in these articles could be applied to these settings too, but there are unsually no guidelines, funding, or manpower to implement.

  23. The current approach taken in a case conference committee meeting is for us to dicuss the use of AT as it relates to the specific goals. I do feel that we are limited to the types of AT that we already know about and there is a lack of time to look into what might be best for the student globally. I would appreciate input from parents who were interested in or had come across AT that they were curious about using for their child. I surely don’t feel that the parent should primarily be responsible for bringing it up, but I do believe that parents also have a lot to offer to this discussion, but may hold back because they are relying on us as experts.
    Another important point is that I have been, in the past, reluctant to broach the use of AT (especially when it may be costly) because of my own lack of skills and the shallowness of my knowledge.
    I will definitely use the documentation forms with the checklists to spur discussion of some of the approaches that may be taken to best meet the needs of our students. This was a very functional and seemingly simple way to begin the process, taking some of the stress out of the situation.

  24. I found both of these articles to be very informative and eye opening. As I read them, I started to realize there are things I should be talking more about and I am not. In my district, there is an AT team, but I do not think it is widely talked about. Many of my encounters with AT this year came about through my OT. She has been wonderful and very helpful. On the IEP, we have not listed AT devices (except in severe cases) but we do talk about things that we can use to help the student succeed. I feel that we have done a good job with AT throughout the building, but I don’t think that we truly know what is available to us. I would love it if I had a list of all the available AT in our district so I know right away what we have and what we don’t have. This would make things a whole lot easier than trying to track the AT team down and asking them or doing the same with the OT. Both articles really opened my eyes and allowed me to see what I should be doing more of at IEP meetings.

  25. I thought the PATINS article was very helpful. We do not have any forms like this that give examples of AT devices for each area of weakness, so this will be great to share with my school system. Also, when I think of AT devices I typically think of high tech devices. This article was a great way to show how we use low tech devices daily (i.e., I am a SLP and we use picture schedules quite frequently). It also opened my eyes for ideas for students with a LD. I typically think of AT for students with a moderate or severe disability.

  26. While AT is certainly included in our IEP’s, I feel that most of the time it is glossed over because of a lack of information. Many staff do not feel comfortable with this area or feel it only applies to those with severe disabilities. I would like to make these articles available to our director and suggest that our staff receive some more information on this issue.

  27. These articles gave so much valuable information; the legal responsibilities found in IDEA, IEP meetings, forms, and various types of AT. I joined the AT team last year and gained a lot of information, but one comment in this article really got my attention-when going through an IEP during a CC, it’s important to have a “discussion” regarding the decision of whether or not a child should receive AT. I have been in many CC, initial and ACRs, where this is quickly overlooked and then I find myself going back once the IEP has been implemented and giving the student access to software, low tech devices, or alphasmarts. I think this does need to change and hopefully I can get it accomplished, so we make sure the IEP is ready from the get go and the student is getting the best educational plan. The forms were very helpful and gave me a great idea for initiating this in my future CC!

  28. I found the information very helful. Recently a student was placed in my classroom with a mild disability. The flowchart of primary questions on page 7 was wonderful. What a wonderful chart for teachers to use in assessing, assisting, identifying the students need and determining what could be done to provide or help the kids get much needed techonoly assistance. The chart was a good base line and took much of the stress I was facing away. I provided our principal with a copy of it. I like what Staci said in her comment, “when I think of AT devices I typically think of high tech devices; this article was a great way to show how we use low tech devices daily”. It was an eye opener for me as well. Great Ideas!

  29. I’m a little behind, trying to catch up. the article was very informative, the website from Wisconsin was an awesome resource. I will pass that along to my teachers. In my school district, the consideration of AT seems to be “loose”. one particular case, it was suggested by our director of Spec. ED. I said I would explore options (being an OT), which I am doing. we have an assistive tech point person for reference, but rarely does that person attend an IEP meeting w/ ideas. I just ask her for info. I almost feel maybe because time is limited. not sure. anyway, I decided to take this course so I could know more. no one on our team other than me and our assist. principal was able to suggest ideas.
    I think we just need to share more info and get more parties involved in deciding what would work. the special ed. teacher and I are beginning to work more together about this particular case, so I can’t wait to pass on info to her. JIll

  30. I have been reading some articles about assertive technology on my own for the past year. I did use the WATI’s assessment tool with my kids to have a better understanding arround what services to ask for/ expect to get. I believe that is a very extensive, relatively new and important area in the field of services for people with disabilities, and more people need to be train. We need more professionals well informed in AT and more regulations; whether or not to decided if a child needs the services when no test has been administrated is inadmissible, and maybe delegate some responsibilities form the teachers if the schools bring personnel that will cover this area (training and supervision) doing what they know. I will add that parents must have access to this information to be able to do a better job advocating for their child.

  31. The articles were very informative, as were everyone’s cpmments. I still don’t understand how we find the options available in the market. Is there a “Dictionary of AT” that lists low tech to high tech options? Where are the resources for the time-pressed, uninformed beginner? Assume that I have no current AT resource – where do I go to find my options? The goal is to provide the student with what they need, but where do we find out what they need exists? The second article was awesome in giving a base of information! This is tremendous information to have an actual AT discussion during conferences.

  32. Thank you, thank you, thank you for WATI. I just found the AT “dictionary” I was looking for – awesome!

  33. The forms used with the IEP were very concise and easy to use. I will be sharing these forms with our AT team. Currently, I use FM systems and closed captioned videos. I am very interested in learning about CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation or real time captioning) and CAN (Computer-Assisted Notetaking). What is the accessibility? I have older students that would benefit from both.

  34. Comments on article “Considering your child’s need for Assistive technology.”

    The articles assigned as readings this week were very illustrative of the various applications that Assistive Technology (AT) may have as an adjunct of various educational/therapy efforts. Given my background as a parent of children with special needs but without a direct involvement in educational settings, I believe I should speak from the perspective of a person intimately involved in facilitating, organizing, and (to some extent) assembling the therapy services in their home schooling program.
    Some sentences in the paper deserve thoughts about the overall philosophy supporting it. The first one is that AT is not technology that helps students practice new skills they are learning. AT helps a child to perform a task that is unfeasible or difficult.
    Because the AT field is a relatively new arena and technology changes rapidly and continuously, we are facing the necessity to update laws, regulations, training, and delivery of services at the same pace that changes improve or modify AT and its applications. A further, perhaps more delicate situation, to consider is that timing of implementation of these services is crucial to truly make a difference for people with disabilities; all too often, we may overlook the concepts of time and opportunity. I agree with the idea that technology does not pull us away from the need to develop the basic skills necessary to overcome disabilities. Because there are very important cognitive processes that must develop at specific points in time, the delay of implementation of services affects a large population that is missing opportunities. Timely access to information, proper training, and avoiding misconceptions may lead to permanent effects.
    The evaluation of who needs AT and at what stages of development AT are needed ought to be addressed with a more general approach. It appears very important to stop limiting access to AT for a lot of people just merely on account of regulations following diagnosis tags, if these are narrowly interpreted and lead to people living with disabilities not being considered appropriate candidates for AT and the associated investment of time and resources.
    The article “Case Conference Committee Considerations of Assistive Technology” has been a very useful reading to determine what services are needed and how to make a base line determination of the area to be covered.

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