2002 Conference Proceedings

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NATIONAL ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH INSTITUTE

Elizabeth A. Lahm
University of Kentucky
229 Taylor Education Building
Lexington, KY 40506-0001
859-257-1520
859-257-1325 (fax)
ealahm1@uky.edu

Margaret Bausch
University of Kentucky
229 Taylor Education Building
Lexington, KY 40506-0001
859-257-8810
859-257-1325 (fax)
meb@uky.edu

Ted S. Hasselbring
University of Kentucky
229 Taylor Education Building
Lexington, KY 40506-0001
859-257-7908
859-257-1325 (fax)
tsh@uky.edu

The National Assistive Technology Research Institute (NATRI) is the product of a cooperative agreement funded under the authority of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA.) The project is being conducted by the University of Kentucky in collaboration with several local, state, and regional education agencies, institutions of higher education, and related national institutes and agencies that address AT topics. The mission of NATRI is to produce data and products that will help improve the delivery of AT services to students who can benefit from the use of AT to enhance their abilities to function in schools and in society.

Project Goals

There are two primary goals for this four-year project. The first is to examine factors related to the planning, development, implementation, and evaluation of AT services in schools. The second is to disseminate the findings of the research in ways that will assist school personnel to develop or improve AT policies and practices for students with disabilities.

In order to meet those two goals, a series of studies are being performed on the following topics:

  1. The status of AT use in schools and the role that AT provides in the education of students with disabilities;
  2. The policies, procedures, and resources that school districts use to develop and deliver AT services to their students;
  3. The ways that AT decisions are made by teams of people who develop Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for students enrolled in special education programs;
  4. The training and technical support that is needed by individuals who are involved with planning and implementing the use of AT devices and services with students;
  5. The integration of AT into learning environments and the ways that AT devices and services are used to facilitate instruction and access to the curriculum;
  6. The effect that the use of AT devices and services have on the academic, social, and functional performance of students who use them; and
  7. The extent to which institutions of higher education are developing AT knowledge and skills in those who are preparing for professional positions in schools.

The primary research questions and methodologies being used to conduct research in the seven areas are described in Table 1.

Table 1 Overview of seven research topics, questions, and methodologies.
Research Topic
Primary Research Question
Research Methodology
Status of AT Use in Schools

What is the status of AT use in schools and the role that AT provides in the education of students with disabilities?

Surveys and case studies will be used to examine the frequency and type of AT use by individual students.

AT Policies, Procedures and Resources

What are the policies and procedures that school districts must follow in the development and delivery of AT services to students?

A survey of State Directors of Special Education will be conducted to determine the status of post-IDEA AT policies and advisories. Analyses of these policies and advisories will be conducted and disseminated.

AT Decision-Making when Developing IEPs

What are the ways that AT decisions are made by teams of people who develop Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for students enrolled in special education programs?

A combination of structured interviews, direct observation, causal-comparative research, and interaction analysis will be used to determine how AT decisions are being made in IEP meetings and how parents and professionals interact during this process.

AT Training and Technical Assistance

What training and technical support is needed by individuals who are involved with planning and implementing the use of AT devices and services with students? Survey research will be used to determine the specific status of special education teachers and related services personnel and their needs for training. Results of this study will be used by those who are responsible for designing both pre-service and in-service training related to AT.

Planning and Implementing AT Services

How is AT integrated into the learning environment and in what ways are AT devices and services used to facilitate instruction and access to the curriculum?

Data collected in the first six topic areas will contribute to the answers of these research questions. However, the primary research methodology for this topic area will be a series of case studies that will be conducted to explore AT planning, implementation, and evaluation at the school district, classroom, and student levels.

Effectiveness of AT Devices and Services

What effects do AT devices and services have on the academic, social, and functional performance of students who use them?

This study will identify a range of effective and ineffective AT practices across functional areas and across the technology continuum. Those practices will be synthesized in a report of critical incidents in the use of AT.

Status of AT Instruction in Personnel Preparation Programs

What is the extent to which institutions of higher education are developing AT knowledge and skills in those who are preparing for professional positions in schools.

Questionnaires will be sent to a sample of IHEs in order to obtain descriptive data about AT activities and perceptions about a number of variables, such as readiness to provide AT instruction and barriers that may exist in the implementation of AT instruction.

The current status and findings related to each of the 7 studies will be presented. Selected states will be presented as case studies describing assistive technology service delivery from the state level down to the building and student level. These case studies are used across all 7 topic areas to address the research questions using qualitative data. Conference attendees will be informed as to how they can participate in some of the studies via the web.

The National Assistive Technology Research Institute is supported by the University of Kentucky with additional funding from Cooperative Agreement #H327G000004 from the Research to Practice Division, Office of Special Education Programs, U. S. Department of Education. That funding is provided under the authority of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as codified under CFDA 84.327G. The information presented in this article does not necessarily represent the official position of the University of Kentucky or the U. S. Department of Education


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