2004 Conference Proceedings

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Dave L. Edyburn, Ph.D.
Department of Exceptional Education
University of Wisconsin-MIlwaukee
PO Box 413
Milwaukee, WI 53201
Phone: 414/229-4821
Email: edyburn@uwm.edu

Despite the concerns associated with minimal increases in funding for education in recent years, schools have demonstrated a willingness to devote an ever-increasing percentage of their annual budgets to the purchase of assistive and instructional technology. However, in the current No Child Left Behind environment, it appears a new era of accountability is upon us. Within this context of increased accountability and desire for understanding the value of technology investments, three national research centers have been established to advance an agenda that will substantially increase the knowledge base surrounding assistive technology and its effective use by individuals with disabilities.

First, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) funded the National Assistive Technology Institute based at the University of Kentucky. This center is charged with conducting AT research, translating research into AT practice, and providing resources to improve the delivery of AT services. To learn more about this center, visit the NATRI home page: http://natri.uky.edu. A second federal agency has also been concerned about assistive technology and has funded priorities to advance a research agenda concerning assistive technology outcomes. In October 2001, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) funded two, five-year, research centers to address the gap in data collection efforts concerning assistive technology outcomes, as well as the paucity of measurement instruments and strategies. The ATOMS (Assistive Technology Outcomes Measurement System) Project is based at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and CATOR (Consortium for Assistive Tech! nology Outcome Research) is housed at Duke University. Additional information about each of these projects can be found at their respective web sites: http://www.atoms.uwm.edu and http://www.atoutcomes.org.

Given the importance of the topic of assistive technology outcomes to both researchers and practioners (Edyburn, 2003a, 2003b), representatives of The ATOMS Project will summarize recent research and development in assistive technology outcomes measurement. Specifically, we plan to share information and resources on the following topics.

Historical Foundations of AT Outcomes

A brief historical introduction to the field of assistive technology outcomes. Participants will be given information on how to access an assistive technology outcomes quiz that they can use with their staff or in professional development settings.

Federally-funded AT Outcome Research Projects

Provide contact information on the two NIDRR-funded assistive technology outcomes research centers: ATOMS (http://www.atoms.uwm.edu) and CATOR (http://www.atoutcomes.org) and discuss current activities of each project.

Leadership Resources on AT Outcomes

Demonstrate selected information resources available through The ATOMS Project web site and how selected items (i.e., AT outcomes study group materials, test your knowledge of AT outcomes) can be used by individuals and organizations to stimulate conversation and action about the measurement of assistive technology outcomes.

Disseminate Recent Research on AT Outcomes

Present selected results from research on 16 field scans that involved gathering, synthesizing, and analyzing information on assistive technology outcomes as found in the literature, in assessment instruments, in legal and policy documents, in focus groups of assistive technology service providers, and existing databases. Executive summaries will be distributed on each completed field scan with additional information on how to obtain free complete copies of each report (http://www.atoms.uwm.edu).

AT Outcome Measurement Instruments

Demonstrate selected AT outcome measurement instruments. Participants will have the opportunity to review selected AT outcome instruments and reflect on the assumptions built into each tool and review the scoring system used by each instrument.

Conversation About Future AT Outcome Systems

Engage participants in conversation about the need for assistive technology outcomes measurement systems, demonstrate prototypes of components of a future AT outcome measurement system, and discuss such systems might be used.


Describe opportunities for interested individuals and organizations to engage in on-going collaboration with the ATOMS Project. The opportunity to present at the annual CSUN conference will allow the project staff to solicit input from a vast cross-section of the profession in ways that will contribute to the development of measurement theory, policy, and future accountability systems.

Additional Information

The purpose of this session is to provide participants with information and resources on important state-of-the-art research and development efforts associated with the measurement of assistive technology outcomes.

Additional information about the work of The ATOMS Projects and to obtain resources on assistive technology outcome measurement, visit: http://www.atoms.uwm.edu.


Edyburn, D.L. (2003a). Measuring assistive technology outcomes: Key concepts. Journal of Special Education Technology, 18(1), 53-55.

Edyburn, D.L. (2003b). Assistive technology and evidence-based practice. ConnSense Bulletin. Available online: http://www.connsensebulletin.com/edyatevidence.html.

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