2001 Conference Proceedings

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Technology for All: A Guide to Solving the Puzzle

Michael Bishop and Dud Zimmerman
Interagency Program for Assistive Technology
Valley City, North Dakota

The purpose of this session is to talk about planning for technology to insure All people within the system's responsibility have access. Technology skills have become a basic requirement, just like reading, writing, and math, therefore, it is important that the technology used in our schools and places of work leaves no one behind. It is more cost effective to PLAN for purchases than it is to retrofit later. The very technology that makes things possible can also leave people behind.

Although the laws regulating responsibilities for assistive technology have been in existence for many years, surveys within North Dakota reveal no assistive technology plans. Technology planners indicate the lack of familiarity with the field of assistive technology results in uncertainty about how to embed assistive technology within long established programs. IPAT of North Dakota completed a pilot project designed to provide a replicable model for assistive technology plan development. The publication, Technology for All: A Guide to Solving the Puzzle," is an outcome of this project. Understanding the critical elements to address when planning for assistive technology equips programs to fit these new elements within familiar planning processes.

Technology for All: A Guide to Solving the Puzzle provides the pieces that fit Nine Critical Components together for a comprehensive technology plan. The Nine Critical Components identified in the guide are:



  1. Administrative Support for AT

  2. Program Analysis

  3. Guiding Documents

  4. AT Devices

  5. Professional Growth

  6. Participation of the Individuals and Family Members

  7. Meeting Individuals' Unique Needs

  8. Outcome Measures

  9. Fitting the Pieces Together

These components can comprise a stand-alone assistive technology plan or can be integrated within a system's overall technology plan. It is intended for use by school systems, rehabilitation centers, and other entities providing direct services to people with disabilities.

A well-developed and implemented assistive technology plan will increase an entity's ability to provide assistive technology solutions for individuals with disabilities. As a result of having a plan, necessary resources are committed to realize the goals, a mechanism is in place to identify and address barriers, processes are in place resulting in best practices, a staff knowledgeable in current AT issues is developed and maintained, collaborative efforts are pursued, consumer involvement in program planning and assessment is promoted, regional and statewide support networks for consumers and service providers are established, and, individual, program, and system outcomes are tracked and analyzed to insure quality of services.

This presentation will highlight the components of a comprehensive assistive technology plan as well as checklists, worksheets, tables and other resources available to assist in analyzing and designing a program.


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