2002 Conference Proceedings

Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2002 Table of Contents


CERTIFICATION FOR ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY TRAINERS: A NEW SCHEME

STEVE TYLER
SENIOR STRATEGIC MANAGER
ROYAL NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR THE BLIND, UK.
RNIB, PO Box 173, Peterborough, PE2 6WS, UK
Email: styler@rnib.org.uk 
Tel: +44 1733 370 777
Fax: +44 1733 371 555

SARAH MORLEY PhD
WINGUIDE
CONSULTANT TO THE BRITISH COMPUTER ASSOCIATION OF THE BLIND
BCM Box 1616, London, WC1N 3XX, UK
Email: s.morley@winguide.co.uk 
Tel/Fax: +44 (0)870 744 1616
http://www.winguide.co.uk

With the growing use of computers and related technology in all aspects of our lives - education, employment, daily living and leisure - visually impaired (VI) people, including children, wish to be able to take advantage of these developments. However, in order to use computers, most VI people need some form of assistive technology to provide large character screen displays, synthetic speech or braille output.

There are schemes to provide assistive technology for those in education or employment, but people wishing to use computers etc at home have to acquire assistive technology products out of their own money, which, in some cases, can more than double the cost of the computer.

To the cost of purchasing the products, has to be added the cost of training, but who has the necessary ability and knowledge to provide training for the chosen product? Until now there has been no reliable answer to such a question.

That is why the British Computer Association of the Blind (BCAB), with substantial financial and resource support from RNIB, has set up the BCAB Trainer Certification Scheme (BTCS).

BCAB was agreed to be the most suitable body to guarantee both independence and high standards of the scheme, as it represents the needs and interests of visually impaired computer users of all ages and levels of expertise.

The scheme comprises two parts: training skills and product knowledge.

Training skills will be assessed by the Institute of IT Training (IITT). The IITT will deliver a three-day training skills refresher course for applicants who already have training experience, or a five-day training delivery course for those completely new to training. IITT assess training ability against proven rigorous and objective criteria. Successful participation on either course will lead to the award of a nationally recognised certificate in training skills. This may be preceded by a one-day module on VI awareness for those who require it. Teachers or trainers who already hold a qualification may be exempt from this part of the scheme.

Product knowledge will be assessed through written work, requiring the trainer to prepare a full training course outline programme, plus a detailed script for a twenty minute training session. This will be followed by a short demonstration training session and interview. Both elements will be assessed by a qualified assessor and VI expert user of the product, using detailed product feature lists agreed with the developers of the product. Successful performance leads to a certificate in product knowledge for the product. This is repeated for each product for which the trainer wishes to be certified.

A successful applicant will be registered on the BTCS list of certified trainers, will sign a professional Code of Practice and be subject to maintaining a high level of professionalism, including keeping skills and knowledge up-to-date.

Those seeking training for VI people will therefore be able to approach BTCS to obtain information on suitably qualified trainers in their area. For the first time, schools and Education Authorities will be able to stipulate that assistive technology training for pupils must be provided by BTCS certified trainers.

The first courses and product knowledge assessment took place in the UK during 2001.

BTCS has the support of independent professional bodies. It will benefit funding authorities and individual VI people alike. It sets new standards for training VI people.

For further information about this certification scheme please contact BTCS:

Email: BTCS@bcab.org.uk 
Website: http://www.btcs.org.uk


Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2002 Table of Contents 
Return to Table of Proceedings


Reprinted with author(s) permission. Author(s) retain copyright.