2003 Conference Proceedings

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STATE-OF-THE-PRACTICE OF ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY IN SCHOOLS:
A NATRI UPDATE

Presenters
Margaret E. Bausch, Ed.D., ATP
Melinda Jones Ault, M.S.
Ted S. Hasselbring, Ed. D.
University of Kentucky
229 Taylor Education Building
Lexington, KY 40506-0001
Phone: (859) 257-8810
Fax: (859) 257-1325
Email: meb@uky.edu 
Email: mjault@uky.edu 
Email: tsh@uky.edu 

Sherry Purcell, Ph.D.
Los Angeles Unified School District
333 S. Beaudry Ave., 16th floor Beaudry Building
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Phone: (213) 241-8055
Fax: (213) 241-8435
Email: spurcell@lausd.k12.ca.us

Elizabeth A. Lahm, Ph.D., ATP
University of Kentucky
126 Mineral Industries Building
Lexington, KY 40506-0051
Phone: (859) 257-5410
Fax: (859) 323-1901
Email: EALAHM1@uky.edu

The National Assistive Technology Research Institute in cooperative agreement with the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is conducting research to better "understand the current use and impact of assistive technology (AT) for students with disabilities" (Lahm, Bausch, Hasselbring, & Blackhurst, 2001, p. 19). One focus of the Institute's research is on case studies that answer the question, "What is the state-of-the-practice of assistive technology (AT) in schools across the nation?"

Little is known about what is currently happening in states across the country related to AT service delivery. These issues are especially important given the 1997 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in which it was mandated that each state must consider AT for every student receiving special education services. These case studies are investigating AT service delivery by collecting data on a comprehensive list of AT issues including:

Data are being collected from all agencies and persons involved with AT service delivery in a state including the administrator responsible for AT in the state department of education, several district administrators in the state, several school principals in each state, classroom teachers in each school, students in each school, and family members of the students. Each state studied will serve as a single case. We plan to study multiple cases (i.e., 10 states) during the course of the Institute. In this presentation, preliminary data collected from several districts will be reported.

Both qualitative and quantitative data from several sources will be reported. First, the AT policies, guidelines, and technical assistance manuals used in a state were gathered. These documents were used to answer a series of questions related to AT. Data will be presented in terms of what information is available in AT documents in the country. Second, data will be presented from online surveys responded to by state, district, and school administrators. Respondents answered a series of questions related to AT service delivery in their work setting. Each respondent answered similar questions and their answers will be compared. Third, teachers, parents, and students using AT were asked questions in face-to-face interviews about AT issues. These questions were also similar to those asked of the administrators. Their responses will be reported. Fourth, direct observations occurred in classrooms of students using AT. We developed an environmental assessment instrument to evaluate the classroom in which the student was enrolled. Data obtained include a general description of the environment, levels of sensory stimulation, persons present in the environment, and types of AT in use. Field note data were also collected while students were using AT in their classrooms. Finally, observations of IEP meetings occurred in order to document (a) persons present and their level of AT expertise, (b) persons participating in AT discussion and their level of participation, (c) areas of AT discussed, (d) components of the AT decision making process, and (e) components of the AT recommendation process.

Implications of the research will be discussed in terms of identifying positive practices and challenges faced by states in delivering AT services.

References

Lahm, E. A., Bausch, M. E., Hasselbring, T. S., & Blackhurst, A. E. (2001). National assistive technology research institute. Journal of Special Education Technology, 16(3), 19-26.


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