For some people, technology makes tasks easier. For others, it allows them to accomplish tasks that would otherwise be impossible.
Assistive technology (AT) is any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of someone with a disability. AT can help people who have difficulty speaking, typing, writing, remembering, pointing, seeing, hearing, learning, or walking.
AT consideration is required for every student with an individualized education program (IEP). IEP teams may meet the legal requirement of AT consideration or be “in compliance” by simply checking a box on the IEP form. However, students, schools, and districts benefit from having systems to ensure AT is truly considered for every student with an IEP. Districts should not rely on a single AT specialist or expert to address AT needs for their students. This can lead to some students not receiving the technology they need due to a backlog of requests, shifts in job descriptions, or position turn over.
The AT Journey was developed by Alt+Shift and Mike Marotta, a nationally recognized AT professional. The AT Journey helps intermediate school districts support their local districts and programs to create sustainable, capacity-building systems that strengthen the delivery of AT services to students. Through both in-person and remote learning, participants go on a “journey” to demystify the complexity surrounding AT consideration, selection, and implementation. This course aims to shift the mindset of viewing AT as an expert model to seeing it as a collaborative, integrated process. The course also builds the capacity and confidence of staff members through the sharing of information with colleagues.
Leading the Way to Excellence in AT Services: A Guide for School Administrators by Gayl Bowser and Penny R. Reed
Bowser and Reed closely examined findings from an international research review on successful school leadership conducted by Leithwood, Harris, and Hopkins and put the findings in the context of assistive technology. This helps administrators identify critical issues and specific actions that will influence the provision of AT devices and services.
The QIAT include the specific quality indicators important to the development and delivery of AT services. The indicators were developed by focus groups and validated through research. They include insights and observations from more than 4000 AT providers from 17 countries and across the United States. The QIAT for Consideration are specific to the consideration of AT when developing a student’s individualized education program (IEP).
How to Receive This Training
You can choose to partner with Alt+Shift or attend a scheduled Statewide Event. Read more about each option below. If you’d like to be notified when the next statewide event becomes available, you can request to be notified.
Partner with Alt+Shift
Training is provided to ISD staff as part of an ISD partnership. Training is typically provided to the entire district, building, or program staff. This depends on the specific ISD's implementation plan. Training is one piece of the partnership. Strategic planning, implementation support, and capacity building are also addressed through the partnership.
Attend a Statewide Event
Statewide events are opportunities to receive training, but with limited opportunities for follow up support. Participants can expect to gain ideas and strategies that would be usable immediately in their practice, and to gain a better understanding of the nature of the training as part of an exploration process for sites considering a partnership with Alt+Shift.
There are no upcoming events for this training.
Alt+Shift asked partners around the state to share their implementation experiences and the impact on adults and students where they work.
Holly Sundman, Rhonda Colberg, Sara Pericolosi
Alt+Shift (AS): In what ways have you implemented ideas and information from the AT Journey training/implementation process?
Dickinson-Iron Intermediate School District (DIISD): Following our first live training, we updated our AT consideration, assessment, and implementation forms. Also, our AT team has grown as a direct result of our partnership with the AT Journey. We now have ISD staff embedded within our local districts. These staff members are involved in our ISD AT leadership team. We also added an AT section to our ISD website to ensure all local districts and parents have access to AT resources.
AS: What impact has the training/process had on you and those you work with (e.g., teachers, students, ancillary staff, administrators, parents, community mental health)?
DIISD: The training has not only expanded our ISD AT team and our local teams, it has increased our knowledge base. Specifically, we have observed new staff who have stepped into AT leadership roles as a direct result of the symposium. We have also seen a shift in how all staff considers AT within the IEP process.
AS: Describe one implementation highlight or success.
DIISD: We've had many success stories throughout the year as a result of the symposium. One story that stands out is of Nicole Weber, a middle school special education teacher at Norway-Vulcan Area Schools. Nicole has enthusiastically adopted the AT consideration process including improved data collection and documentation. Nicole has observed increased engagement and independence with her students. Within Forest Park Schools, an AT team was established in which they focused on working through the process for one student. As a result, the team is moving into the next school year with greater knowledge, understanding, and excitement to expand this process for all students. Overall, the AT Journey allowed for great conversation and a shift in culture from an 'expert model' to more of a collaborative approach. It empowered those working directly with students to learn more about the consideration process as well as the AT tools available.
AS: Describe one implementation challenge/barrier and how you're working to overcome it.
DIISD: As an ISD, we support six local school districts in two counties. By nature, the distance creates communication and collaboration barriers. In an effort to eliminate these silos, we have implemented an ISD AT listserv where all staff can ask questions, learn about tools, etc. To further collaborate efforts across all school districts, our ISD will host quarterly AT meetings with our local school districts in attendance during the 2019-2020 school year.
AS: What are your next steps in the implementation process?
DIISD: As we move forward, we hope to see additional AT leaders emerge within all of our local school districts. We recognize the need for further professional development opportunities related to AT for all staff. In an effort to do so, our ISD is committed to partnering and supporting our local districts. As we wrap up the symposium, our ISD AT team along with our administration is focused on making progress toward a system-wide professional development implementation plan.
AS: How has Alt+Shift supported your district's AT Journey?
DIISD: Alt+Shift has thoroughly supported our journey by creating coaching opportunities, webinars, and live trainings. These have allowed our staff to pause, process, and collaborate throughout the journey. We were able to really delve into the AT consideration process as a team, which created further buy-in from a larger group. We have found it very beneficial to have an AT Implementation Plan monitored by Carolyn and Mike throughout the process.
What Others are Saying
We asked partnership sites to share their experience related to the training.
The AT Journey has been well thought out and provided to our district in manageable pieces. It's one of the most productive professional development opportunities that I've ever participated in.
AT Journey: Web Edition
When Alt+Shift opened applications for ISDs to participate in the AT Journey, the response was positive, and we received many more applications than we could take on one journey. So, we began construction on the AT Journey: Web Edition.
Web-based participants, encouraged to participate as ISD teams, embark on a self-directed journey that follows the same path as in-person participants. Teams travel through the journey at their own pace while engaging with the broader AT Journey community through online discussions and by viewing edited and recorded sections of in-person workshops, webinars, and coaching sessions.
Teams participating in the web journey also walk through a strategic implementation plan, similar to all Alt+Shift initiatives. The aim of the AT Journey: Web Edition is to allow ISD and school teams to start the journey at any point in the school year and recognize the benefits of and develop a collaborative, team-based approach for AT consideration, selection, and implementation.