2004 Conference Proceedings

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The REVISED and IMPROVED Matching Person & Technology Assessment Process and Forms

Presenter(s)

Marcia Scherer1, Ph.D,
Caren Sax2, Ed.D.,
Laura Cushman3, Ph.D.,
Renee Wilson3, M.S. &
Jackie Ives3, M.S.
Alan G. Vanbiervliet4, Ph.D.

1 Institute for Matching Person & Technology
2 Interwork Institute, San Diego State University
3 University of Rochester Medical Center
4 University of Arkansas at Little Rock

As the available options and features of assistive technologies (AT) have increased, their use has been more widely considered and recommended. Expanded choice in features now means differences among individual users can be accommodated, making the process of matching person and technology complex because people's expectations of and reactions to technologies are complex. These reactions are also highly individualized. They emerge from varying needs, abilities, preferences, and past experiences with and exposures to technologies. Predispositions to technology use also depend on one's temperament/personality, subjective quality of life/well-being, views of physical capabilities, expectations for future functioning, and financial and social/environmental support for technology use. One model that has been posited to account for these influences is the Matching Person and Technology (MPT) Model, first presented in 1989.

Many professionals working with persons with disabilities do not have an effective process for matching person and device. Moreover, many professionals want to be, and realize they need to be, more consumer-responsive, but have not received the training they need in how to accomplish this.

The Matching Person & Technology (MPT) Model and accompanying assessment instruments address three primary areas to assess as follows: (a) determination of the milieu/ environment factors influencing use, (b) identification of the consumer's needs and preferences, and (c) description of the functions and features of the most desirable and appropriate technology. To operationalize the model and theory, an assessment process consisting of several instruments was developed through participatory action research addressing differences between technology users and non-users. It is both a practical and research tool which identifies barriers to assistive technology use for a particular individual by focusing on individual strengths and participatory needs, preferences and temperament. This information is then balanced with the characteristics of the environment in which the technology will be used along with the features and functions of the technology itself. It has been validated for use by persons with disabilities (ages 15 and up).

One MPT assessment, the Assistive Technology Device Predisposition Assessment (ATD PA) Consumer Form, has new interpretive guidelines and an interactive training program for professionals. The purpose is to guide professionals into incorporating assessment components into their evaluation procedures to ensure that consumer preferences and environmental constraints are addressed prior to the selection of a particular AT.

The Assistive Technology Device Predisposition Assessment (ATD PA) Consumer Form was the measure of interest throughout the study. Items are of varied format, such as 5-point Likert scales and checklists. Based on the results of measurement standards applied to date, the ATD PA has reasonable inter-rater reliability and validity and a number of validation studies have been done.

In a research study of over 90 professionals and their consumers, the MPT process and assessments were viewed as highly useful valuable. Specific comments include:
• encourages client participation in process of developing and setting goals; helps client better understand their own needs and interests
• useful when client is a complicated case, good tool for assessing a client's "story" with AT; helps avoid the "one size fits all" mentality; useful as case documentation
• reduces worry that professional is omitting something, forces one to be thorough
• places some responsibility on client without giving them "whole ball of wax" to figure out what they need; lets client be the person who makes final decision
• helps organize thoughts and focus on entire picture
• good framework in which to build the counselor-client relationship.
Both professionals and consumers especially liked the way the process and form (a) engage the consumer in the process of technology evaluation and (b) structure the discussion to include key considerations that might be missed otherwise (such as topics in which the professional might have some discomfort in raising, personal and social/ environmental influences). The forms helped to ensure all relevant areas were systematically reviewed and that a comprehensive assessment was done.

Interactive training program.

The interactive training program consists of a CD-ROM designed to provide instruction in the use of the Matching Person and Technology process and in evaluating and selecting the most appropriate ATs for any given consumer's use. The trainee has opportunities to repeat information, select the order of presentation, and otherwise customize the training based on time availability and areas of need.

Training program essential content
• theory behind the assessments and the overall goal of the tool;
• an overview of the relevant technologies.
• the scoring and interpretation of the forms.
• which form to use when, and with whom; the purpose of the forms, what they are designed to measure, what they are not designed to assess; explanations of every item and practical examples for each question; short case examples for each section, specific questioning techniques.

Computerized Scoring and Interpretations

The interpretations consist of summaries of the MPT subscale scores (functional capabilities, subjective quality of life, psychosocial and temperament characteristics, device features) for any given respondent with accompanying suggestions for further assessment, training, and environmental support or accommodations. The goal is to provide respondent profiles that will allow the professional to identify particular areas in need of intervention. (Since the MPT assessments are designed to inform, not to replace professional judgment, their purpose is to indicate areas in need of further assessment and intervention).

Content of Interpretations
• guide to numeric scores, to have an immediate view as to how to orient and proceed with advice
• advice on how to handle questions and answers that are not relevant
• feedback from questions, which are personal, because the professional may not have the time or feel comfortable addressing these issues
• guidelines or feedback encouraging goal setting and interaction
• a simpler scoring system
• guidelines on where the MPT assessment fits into the client's rehab process, to help clarify "where we go from here"
• considerations for training in using new AT
• survey of training needs concerning the technology
• a follow-up form to complete after the technology is in place and being used to conduct outcome analyses.

CONCLUSIONS

Feedback over the years has strongly supported the need for an MPT training program and for interpretations of results. There is both professional and consumer preference for a reliable assessment process that includes three essential elements: 1) it should incorporate the consumer's perspective, 2) go beyond functional capabilities to the consideration of personal and social/environmental influences on AT use, and 3) provide documentation to support the chosen AT. The scoring and interpretations, as well as an accessible means of getting comprehensive training in the use of the MPT process and assessment forms, and ways to maximize benefit from their use are products that were developed in response to the stated needs of consumers, providers of ATs, and professionals in related fields. The ability to provide such products efficiently, scientifically, and in an accessible manner forms the basis the work of the Institute for Matching Person & Technology.

Acknowledgement:

This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, through grant number HD38220 to The Institute for Matching Person & Technology, Inc.

REFERENCES

Scherer, M.J. (2004). Matching person & technology process and accompanying assessment instruments, revised edition. Webster, NY: Institute for Matching Person & Technology. [http://members.aol.com/IMPT97/MPT.html].

Scherer, M.J. (2004). Connecting to Learn: Educational and Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association (APA) Books.

Scherer, M.J. (Ed.). (2002). Assistive Technology: Matching Device and Consumer for Successful Rehabilitation. Washington, DC: APA Books.

Scherer, M.J. & Craddock, G. (2002). Matching Person & Technology (MPT) assessment process (reliability and validity). Technology & Disability, Special Issue: The Assessment of Assistive Technology Outcomes, Effects and Costs, 14(3), 125-131.

Scherer, M.J. (2000). Living in the State of Stuck: How Assistive Technology Impacts the Lives of People with Disabilities, Third Edition. Cambridge, MA: Brookline Books.

Address correspondence to: Marcia J. Scherer, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Matching Person & Technology, Inc., 486 Lake Road, Webster, NY 14580 USA. Tel: (585) 671-3461; Fax: (585) 671-3461; E-mail: IMPT97@aol.com

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