2003 Conference Proceedings

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You, the Assistive Technology Consultant

Presenters
Kelly Fonner
Educational & Assistive Technology Consultant
1508 Dodge Street
Lake Geneva, WI 53147
Phone: 262-893-8053
Fax: 262-249-9269
Email: kfonner@earthlink.net

Mike Marotta
CSUN/ Center on Disabilities
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330-8340
City, State, Zip: Brick, NJ 08724
Email: mike.marotta@csun.edu

Summary

This session is designed for those of you who are providing assistive technology support services. Whether you work in an early childhood program, the school system or a rehabilitation facility, your job roles and techniques are often self-created. We typically have very vague job descriptions. You may find little time to plan and reflect upon "how you do what you do". Finally, a session which addresses you, the AT consultant. During our time together we will address consultation and training by examining a variety of issues that impact upon our roles including, service provision models, planning site visits, meeting facilitation techniques, defining audiences and content for training, working with companies, and being a leader in assistive technology in your workplace. We will also look at how you are using technology in your professional work. Are you "walking what you're talking"? You will receive the "walk the talk" matrix that will help you attack your use of technology in the situations of planning, information management, haring and dissemination, professional development, consultation and meetings. By the end of the day, you will have created a mind-map of your services, an action plan for your leadership and have reflected upon your work game plan. Come listen, learn and network with others who do what you do. You are not alone.

Abstract

This session is designed for those who are providing assistive technology support services. They may call themselves assistive technology consultants, assistive technology specialists, assistive technology practitioners and so on. Their backgrounds are varied including teachers, engineers, therapists, family members of persons with disabilities and person with disabilities themselves, but one common thing that we often find is that they are self-taught. Not many have attended courses that address how to be a consultant. They are busy people and don't always have time to plan or reflect upon "how they do what they do". This session is that opportunity to come and get some information on consultation techniques and strategies and to make a mind-map of their services. With this information, instead of putting out fires or tackling each new student or client as a novel event, they can have a well thought out game plan for their work.

This session isn't about assistive technology products. It's about the human side that provides assistance to people with disabilities and those that are their caregivers and service providers. It's about the delivery of assistive technology services (the other part of federal definitions). The content of this session will be broken down as follows:

Consultation Techniques & Strategies

The idea of "flawless consultation" comes from author, Peter Block. It will provide the structure of the consultation techniques and strategies section. Participants will take a self-assessment to assess their consultation style. Consultation models will be introduced and paired with forms and formats that we have been given by well know authors in the field of assistive technology and augmentative communication. We well look at the participation model from Buekleman and Mirenda, the roles and responsibilities matrix from Cumley, and look at the models of integration consultations from authors such as Wang, McGregor, Calculator and Downing.

This section will also address the issues of communication styles and the use of language. We'll talk about working with empathy, social and cultural sensitivity, and within job constraints. Participants will explore this section through a "learn through their own experiences" approach. Activities will be used to address challenging attitudes and situations of conflict, barriers, and restraints. Strategies for dealing with difficult participants will be addressed.

Data Collection Measures

Data collection is growing in importance. Teams are often searching for how to prove success, measure outcomes and make product decisions. They look to the AT consultant for this assistance, but often the AT consultant does not have a background in quantitative and/or qualitative data collection. The information in this section is designed to assist the development of informal measures of data collection that may lead to a more formalized process.

Planning Training

During this section on planning training, participants will reflect upon their own personal learning style and its influence upon how they plan their trainings. Several researched strategies of staff development will be reviewed including the CBAM (Concerns Based Assessment Measure) scale for defining your audience and the 4MAT approach to development of a presentation. We will look at the training situations presented by full day events, conferences, hour long events, and ongoing opportunities.

Technology for the Professional

As the day progresses, participants will be introduced to the Walk the Talk Matrix (a no-cost planning matrix). It looks at how they are using technology in their role as a professional. They can share the technology that they are using to collect information during the ATIA conference. We will explore their used of PDAs and portable word processors. An activity is planned to get them thinking about portable word processing tools in a new way. The Walk the Talk Matrix will help them attack their use of technology in the situations of planning, information management, sharing and dissemination, professional development, consultation and meetings. It will include a wide variety of technology as well as the use of the Internet.

Working with the Manufacturers

Another portion of the life on an assistive technology consultant is working with the manufacturers and their representatives. Strategies will be introduced for making connections, dealing with technology support services, getting training support and how to make inquires and connections that benefit your clients and ongoing manufacturer relationships.

Leadership

The last portion of the day will address being a leader in the area of assistive technology in whatever arena you are in (agency, program, state, nationally, etc). We will look at the models of leadership including the Leadership Challenge scale from Polsner and Kouzes. Participants will discuss together their roles in their work communities and develop a plan for where they would like to extend their own professional growth.

Whether they work in a rehabilitation facility or in a school environment, there are needs that assistive technology consultants have. This information in this session is for those that serve both adults and children. It has been well received in different forums, and of difference lengths of time. Participants go away having really thought through "how to do what they do". It is presented with great enthusiasm and with variations in activities and information giving. Not many conferences include these types of issues, this session provides an opportunity to address many of the professional issues that assistive technology service providers are confronted by daily.


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