Having well written policies and procedures surrounding assistive technology services within the school division will ensure that assistive technology efforts will be ongoing and sustainable. All AT services developed and delivered should be legally correct according to federal and state laws and aligned to school division policies. AT policies and procedures should be broad and cover all aspects of AT including AT consideration and assessment, documentation in the IEP, appropriate implementation of AT devices and services, training, and coordination of funding and maintenance of AT materials and inventories. In 2008 the Virginia Department of Education developed guidelines for school divisions to use when developing policies related to consideration and assessment of assistive technology.
Many school divisions across the nation have found the use of AT teams (with strong administrative support) to be an effective resource for designing policies and procedures around AT service delivery, purchasing and maintaining an inventory of AT equipment, providing AT assessments and supporting IEP teams in the use of AT materials. In addition, these teams may be responsible for training school personnel, including IEP teams, in the appropriate selection and use of AT devices and services. The benefits of educational "team decision-making" include the sharing of knowledge from students, family members and an interdisciplinary group of professionals, thereby resulting in a comprehensive set of AT policies with invested stakeholders.
Some ideas and resources for helping to develop effective assistive technology services within the educational environment are included in this area.
Establishing and operationalizing effective AT policies requires that AT guidelines be embedded into existing school policies and procedures. This is not a quick activity, but rather a lengthy process leading toward systems change. To document a systematic process for AT development and ensure success, an assistive technology team might consider developing and maintaining an action plan. This plan should include steps for establishing and maintaining an AT team and capacity-building activities that will grow and change, but sustain over time. A sample long-range action plan can be modified to meet the needs of each school division and is intended to cover a period of 3-5 years.
Many resources are available to support assistive technology teams. These documents might be used as models for creating policies and procedures for an individual school division.
Visit the VDOE Assistive Technology Project website for a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and resources for AT teams.
As AT processes are developed and refined, it is important to make sure they are aligned with existing program policies and follow current information on effective practices in AT. Many of the resources below were developed by committed consumers, families, service providers and other leaders of AT within their own programs.
Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology (QIAT) Services - QIAT’s mission is to guide the development and delivery of quality assistive technology services by providing users with Quality Indicators, Matrices, and QIAT in Action documents, and many additional resources.
Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative has developed a school profile to assist school divisions with targeting areas of improvement for AT services. Teams might use this as a self-assessment in the initial stages of development, as well as a “temperature check” at a later date to determine if the team has made progress.
Based on the school profile the team might want to plan for meaningful professional development. A needs assessment survey is often recommended to determine the interests and preferences of participants. This survey is one example that might be used to determine the assistive technology training needs of a group.
Baltimore County Public Schools was kind enough to share the tools that they use to help justify the need for funding assistive technology services. These are examples of some forms used to document personnel time spent on AT services.
Models of AT Support - Sample flow charts for AT services using a team approach