Assessing AT

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When an IEP team needs further information regarding assistive technology solutions for a particular student, an AT assessment takes place. An AT assessment goes into more detail, looking closely at the student’s abilities and difficulties and the demands of the environment and tasks. Assessment also includes the acquisition of new information (Reed, 2004). An AT assessment differs from the usual evaluation components regarding eligibility for special education services. According to IDEA, ALL students with an IEP are ELIGIBILE to receive AT services. Therefore, the AT assessment is not used for eligibility rather it is an ongoing process to determine the need for and what types of AT solutions the student would require in order to be successful with school outcomes.

Many consider the Student, Environment, Tasks, Tools (SETT) Framework developed by Joy Zabala (2002) to be an effective organizational tool for AT assessment. It is not an assessment protocol, but rather a set of guiding questions and statements that support and encourage communication between the student, his/her family members, and professionals as they assess the individual’s need for AT devices and services. The SETT Framework is built on the premise that, in order to develop an appropriate system of assistive technology devices and services, teams must first gather information about the student, the customary environments in which the student spends his time, and the tasks that are required for the student to be an active participant in the teaching/learning process. The SETT Framework is available online as well.

Documents, resources and forms for AT consideration and assessment are located on the Virginia Department of Education's Assistive Technology Networks website (  The AT assessment package from the Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative (WATI), a recognized national leader in assistive technology best practice, is used along with additional resource and forms as part of the AT assessment process.

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