1998 Conference Proceedings

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Kelly Jo Lynch, OTR, ATP
Statewide Consultant,
Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative
c/o CESA 8
223 W. Park St.
Gillett, WI 54124
Voice/Fax: 920-983-9849
Internet: KJLynch1@aol.com

Penny Reed, Ph.D, Director,
Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative
c/o Tomorrow River SD
357 N. Main St.
Amherst, WI 54406
Voice: 715-824-6415
Internet: preed@coredcs.com

The Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative has been training school district staff across the state of Wisconsin to assess the assistive technology needs of their students with disabilities. To facilitate this training, they have developed an assessment packet that school district staff can use to guide them through the assessment process. This packet contains a Procedure Guide, a Student Information Guide, a Planning Guide, and an Assistive Technology Checklist. Participants will receive a copy of the entire assessment packet.

This presentation will focus on the AT Checklist developed by Lynch (1997) and how school teams are using it to facilitate and improve their assessment and planning. The Assistive Technology Checklist for Students provides a framework for for assessment planning. It provides an organizational structure utilizing eight categories. The categories are 1)Writing, including Mechanics of Writing, Alternate Computer Access and Composing Written Material 2)Communication, 3)Reading,Studying and Math, 4)Recreation and Leisure, 5)Activities of Daily Living, including Mobility and Environmental Control 6)Positioning and Seating, 7)Vision, and 8)Hearing. Within each category, a continuum of assistive technology devices (from Low to High Tech) is listed. Using the AT Checklist, a team can identify potential Assistive Technology devices for trial use for an individual student. The Checklist can also be used as a guide for planning for the studentÕs changing needs for Assistive Technology. The Assistive Technology Checklist for Students allows school staff to consider the needs of the whole child focusing on specific tasks the student needs to do, as opposed to focusing solely on the disability.

In addition to the AT Checklist, the Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative Procedure List, Student Information Guide and Planning Guide assist the school district with the assessment process. The procedure list outlines the steps the school district team follows to effectively assess a childÕs needs for assistive technology. The Student Information Guide is a tool for gathering information regarding a childÕs abilities and disabilities as they relate to functional tasks and the use of assistive technology. The Planning Guide is a five-step team problem solving process for assistive technology assessment.

Assistive Technology Assessment Philosophy

In determining whether or not the student needs Asssitive Technology, the first question to ask is: ÒDoes the student have difficulty performing functional tasks?Ó If so, the next question is: ÒWhich tools will help the student perform the tasks?Ó.

Effective assessment involves matching Student (abilities, difficulties), Environmental Considerations, and Tasks (that student needs to perform) with the appropriate Tools (Assistive Technology)(SETT - Zabala, 1994).

In Wisconsin, we are committed to building school district capacity, therefore we teach a process that empowers the school district team. Part of this process involves training the team in a five step decision making process that facilitates team decision making. In carrying out the decisision making, the Assistive Technology Consultant and the school district team form a partnership. The school district team members have expertise on the studentÕs abilities/disabilities, environmental considerations and tasks (including educational goals). The Assistive Technology consultant has specific knowledge regarding assistive devices and software. Therefore, when the School District Team and AT consultant form a partnership (each contributing their expertise) appropriate Assistive Technology devices can be selected for students. The role of the AT Consultant gradually fades as team capacity grows.

Assistive Technology Checklist

The categories of the AT Checklist provide an organizational structure for the consideration and assessment for assistive technology devices by school district teams. Assistive technology device is Òany item, piece of equipment, or product system... that is used to increase, maintain or improve functional capability of children with disabilitiesÓ (IDEA) - therefore, functional tasks are the natural organizational structure for considering/assessing for AT needs for students.

The AT Checklist is a practical checklist of the assistive technology devices available to assist students with disabilities.

The AT Checklist assists school district teams in making good decisions in the selection of assistive technology devices for students because the AT Checklist is comprehensive so that teams consider the full range of options (including high and low tech with the simplest adaptations first).

The AT Checklist can be used as a tool to document assistive technology considered, tried, and in use by the student.

Assistive Technology Checklist


Mechanics of Writing

Alternate Computer Access

Composing Written Material








Environmental Control





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