A focus for implementation of assistive technology (AT) tools have ranged from interactive whiteboard and mobile device integration, to large scale use of specialized software for students with special needs. Good implementation and selection practices of AT for students with special needs has resulted in many success stories. Effective use of AT in our schools is resulting in greater autonomy, independence, accessibility and academic success for our students.
School-wide assistive technology plans-The ALDI framework
In light of the heightened awareness and use of AT in our boards, the ALDI Initiative has developed a framework for the development of a school wide assistive technology plan. Prior to selecting specific technologies for our students, it is useful and necessary to reflect on the tools necessary for AT assessment, implementation and evaluation.
The ALDI Initiative has developed two documents that can be used to guide school boards and schools to develop AT plans of action, as well as guide decision making:
The AT action plan addresses several questions that should be answered (taking into account the individual school environment and students needs) prior to making decisions about AT.
- Assessment of student needs
- Assessment of teacher needs
- Training model and sustainability
- Methods of integrating AT into the classroom
- IT and environmental considerations
- Evaluation of AT effectiveness
- Consideration of individual student needs
A second guide called the ALDI Framework for Assistive Technology Decision-Making is for teachers, administrators, school board professionals and others involved in AT selection. This guide is designed to facilitate decision-making for AT for specific students, and places emphasis on individual selection of AT, taking into account the specific learning profile of the student. It is based on the SETT framework, a research-based tool used for AT decision-making and selection from Joy Zabala, Ed.D. The SETT (Student, Environment, Task and Tool) framework ensures that the needs of the individual student, the environment, the task and the assistive technology tool are well matched.
We hope that these resources are useful to our boards, our schools and our teachers. Please send us your feedback, and we will be posting more information and resources on the selection, implementation and evaluation assistive technologies in the coming months as we feature the work of our boards in this area.