What are common barriers to AT use?
Insufficient implementation plans present common barriers to AT use. These plans lack sufficient detail to thoroughly describe AT use, expectations and training procedures. Similarly, AT implementation requires regular, collaborative meetings of the entire IEP team. These meetings involve frequent reviews of AT implementation, the effectiveness of AT plans and training plans that clearly designate key personnel to conduct training sessions. Comprehensive implementation plans with detailed descriptions of AT provide a way to avoid common barriers.
Must AT services be provided by an AT specialist?
No. Assistive Technology services are broad and often integrated into other services the student receives (special education, speech/language, occupational and/or physical therapies, etc.). AT services are most effectively integrated into the student’s educational program through the actions of many people working together, each one of whom brings different understanding, knowledge and skills to the provision of those services.
An AT device is being used in therapy sessions, but the student is not yet ready to use the device for educational activities. Is this sufficient?
No. It is insufficient for a student to use AT occasionally (i.e., during therapy sessions), because that pattern of use is unlikely to improve the child’s functional capabilities. The student should be encouraged and supported to use AT throughout the day for the tasks for which it is intended.
Do I need to change the classroom environment to utilize an AT tool?
You need to consider the environment and how the specific tool works in a variety of environments. Thoughtful consideration of these environments will help you make sound decsions based on evidence of data collection and student preferences and performance.
Will other students feel left out if the AT is not used for them?
Sometimes other students may not understand why a student is using AT. So you should explain how AT helps a specific student learn better and more independently. You can also point out that many people have to use tools to address particular need they have (e.g., wearing eyeglasses).
Are there other staff members who can help me use the AT in my classroom?
Yes. The IEP team includes members that are often included in the daily routine of classroom curriculum such as a general educator, a special educator, related service personnel (SLP, OT, PT, etc.) and para-educators. Para-educators are often vital to the integration and use of AT for classroom use.
When an AT device is provided for a student, does the district have a continuing obligation for the adjustment and care of the device?
Yes. The district must ensure that the student can use the AT effectively for its intended purpose and provide ongoing AT services to support its use. Once an AT device is selected and acquired, the law requires that the device be designed, fitted, customized or adapted to the specific needs of the student. The district is responsible for maintenance, repair and replacement so the device is available and working when needed. This is the legal responsibility of the district whether the device is owned by the district or by the family.
Does the school need to provide training to parents and others in addition to the child and school staff?
Yes. Both training and technical assistance must be provided to the student, family and any service provider required to implement and assist the student in using the AT. Training may include workshops, one-to-one training from a vendor or specialist, frequent follow-ups or inquiries from a specialist or a variety of other types of education or technical assistance.