A Continuous Journey
One reason AT continues to appear so mysterious is that some educators may not recognize that the modifications and accommodations they provide qualify as assistive technology.
Due to COVID-19, many families are supporting their learners’ educational opportunities at home with assistive technology. Parent/caregiver involvement provides a great opportunity for educators to improve the family’s overall understanding of a learner’s AT and foster a school-home partnership.
When providing trainings or professional learning, consider the following:
Develop professional learning based on your current AT needs, assessment process, and goals.
Anyone involved in a learner’s IEP or day-to-day life can contribute to an AT assessment (including identifying a need, providing examples of tasks or environments in which the learner participates, and suggesting supports), therefore professional learning should be provided and/or available for all of these participants (ex: general and special education teachers, administrators, ancillary staff, paraprofessionals, parents/caregivers).
Remember that while tools are typically the desired focus of trainings, educators and families need to also be informed on the AT process that leads to determining the needs of learners and how to integrate technology supports at school and at home.
Educators and family members have a wide range of prior knowledge that can contribute to their learning about assistive technology. A continuum of professional learning (ex: beginner, intermediate, advanced) could support contributors where they are in their own AT journey.
Measure the effectiveness of professional learning opportunities based on implementation and practice, as well as the learners’ performances.
As a school or ISD, develop a plan for ongoing AT professional learning and training.
Professional learning can (and should) be adapted depending on the audience and desired outcomes. Check out the Quality Indicators matrix for Professional Development and Training for additional guidance.
You’ve made it! Your AT Journey is complete...or is it?
Just as you would travel to places you’ve already been, revisit the AT Journey: Web Edition stops as needed. Use the discussion box found on each stop to ask questions, share helpful resources, or contribute to the discussion.
Journeys are more enjoyable with fun travel companions! Gather your team and use the AT Journey stops to guide discussions related to your own district’s AT needs. Join the AT-Contacts listserv or reach out to an AT Leader in your ISD or region if you have specific questions or want to problem solve solutions to barriers.
If you’re interested in continuing the AT Journey as a more formalized professional development opportunity, consider applying to become a partnership site with Alt+Shift. We provide the training and coaching while you provide the team and opportunity for growth. Explore the Partnering Process page to find more information about how the AT Journey could be brought to and tailored to the needs of your ISD.
If you have additional ideas for AT Journey topics, please reach out to Carolyn O’Hearn.