2002 Conference Proceedings

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Christine L. Appert, EdD, ATP
University of Virginia Children's Medical Center
Kluge Children's Rehabilitation Center
2270 Ivy Road, Charlottesville, VA 22903
Phone: (434) 982-0844
FAX: (434) 982-3744
E-Mail: chrisa@virginia.edu


This presentation will address national and state level technology standards and guidelines for school-based professionals. Issues related to complementing general education standards with competencies specific to assistive technology will be highlighted. Consideration will be given to associated implications for administrative policy, professional development efforts, and pre-service training.


Many states have adopted technology-based standards for instructional personnel. Typically, the basic knowledge and skills required of educators are formulated in tandem with technology standards established for students. At a national level, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) published educational technology standards for students (NETS) and more recently the National Educational Standards for Teachers (NETS-T). The NETS-T focus on the fundamental concepts, knowledge, skills, and attitudes for applying technology in educational settings (1). An increasing number of states have adopted their own technology policies and implemented requirements that must be met for licensure. In many instances, the standards are crafted from the perspective of the general education curriculum and methodologies, however, they affect all licensed professionals; including special educators and speech-language pathologists.

Along with being prepared to apply instructional technology effectively, special educators and related service providers need to be equipped with information and skills related to assistive technologies (2). As a part of its work in establishing statements to serve as competencies for special educators (3), the Council for Exceptional Children compiled a set of essential knowledge and skills statements for assistive technology competencies (4). The National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) and other professional groups, such as the Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology (QIAT) Leadership Consortium (5) and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) (6) have also proposed recommendations and indicators related to assistive technology and computer competencies. Suggested skills and knowledge fundamentals have been mapped out to support consideration of assistive technology in the special education process and development of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Another goal has been to promote the professional development and contributions of various disciplines in assistive technology service delivery.


A review of exemplar national and state standards illustrates a continuum of skills and practices advised for professionals in school settings. The National Educational Standards for Teachers paints a broad profile for the technology literate teacher (1). These include performance indicators related to:

* Technology operations and concepts
* Planning and designing learning environments and experiences
* Teaching, learning, and the curriculum
* Assessment and evaluation
* Productivity and professional practice
* Social, ethical, legal, and human issues

State adaptations of the NETS-T follow a similar paradigm and become more specific at the local level. Mandatory requirements differ by state and locality with some school systems requiring teachers to maintain and submit a portfolio demonstrating completion of each delegated sub-skill.

To date, assistive technology competency guidelines have been recommended but, in most school situations, not mandated. As with the NETS-T standards, the categories presented reflect a multiplicity of recommended knowledge and skill competencies. For instance the CEC assistive technology competency statements (4) are described under each of these broad areas:

* Philosophical, historical, and legal foundations of special education
* Characteristics of learners
* Assessment, diagnosis, and evaluation
* Instructional content and practice
* Planning and managing the teaching and learning environment
* Professional and ethical practices

While the intent, implementation, and explicit details vary, there are many overlapping themes that suggest the potential for incorporating principles of assistive technology practice into required professional development and training and subsequent skill mastery documentation. Curriculum or instructional content, learning environments, and legal/ ethical/ human issues immediately stand out as areas for cross-fertilization; to be addressed by both special and general educators working with special populations.

Some examples from the Virginia Technology Standards for Instructional Personnel (TSIP) illustrate how a teacher or related service provider could demonstrate skills satisfying both instructional and assistive technology performance indicators:


Identify, locate, evaluate, and use appropriate instructional technology-based resources to support instructional objectives.

One of the tasks required to meet this standard often involves evaluation of software programs with a checklist or form. In this instance, the software selection might be a tool, such as a graphical organizer, reviewed from the perspective of ways that the application could be used to support instruction for a student with special needs. Software evaluation could also involve obtaining and becoming familiar with a collection of the many demo CDs with assistive technology applications. Another related performance indicator might involve locating Internet resources linked to instructional planning or student management. This competency could be easily met by identifying web sites that provide information or references for assistive technology devices and practices.


Plan and implement lessons and strategies that integrate technology to meet the diverse needs of learners in a variety of educational settings.

For this standard, individuals are asked to prepare, plan, and teach a lesson which incorporates computer-based activities and relates to state learning standards. Infusing an assistive technology component into a lesson plan might involve using assistive technologies that can access educational materials or compensate for learning and performance barriers.


Session attendees will receive an overview of standards and competencies proposed at the national, state, and organizational levels. Examples of successful inservice professional development and pre-service coursework objectives, activities, and skills will highlight ways to meet required guidelines in a discipline-specific and relevant way. Participants will have an opportunity to discuss and problem-solve local implementation of standards and training dilemmas within various settings.


1. International Society for Technology in Education, (2000). National education technology standards. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.

2. Golden, D. (1998). Assistive technology in special education: Policy and practice. Reston, VA: CASE/TAM of the Council for Exceptional Children.

3. Council for Exceptional Children, (2000). What every special educator should know: The international standards for the preparation and education of special education teachers. (4th ed.). Reston, VA: The Council for Exceptional Children.

4. Lahm, E. & Nickels, B. (1999). What do you know? Assistive technology competencies for special educators. Teaching Exceptional Children, 32(1), 56-63.

5. QIAT Consortium. (2000). Quality indicators for assistive technology services in school settings. Journal of Special Education Technology, 15 (4), 25-36.

6. Cochran, P, Masterson, J., Long, S., Katz, R., Seaton, W., Wynne, M., Lieberth, A., & Martin, D.(1993). Computing competencies for clinicians. Asha, 35 (8), 48-49.

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