2004 Conference Proceedings

Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2004 Table of Contents 


Joy Smiley Zabala
Assistive Technology & Leadership
PO Box 3130, Lake Jackson, TX , 77566
Website: http://www.joyzabala.com 
Email: joy@joyzabala.com

Distance, remote locations, few service providers, and limited resources are challenges that New Zealand shares with the parts of the USA and other countries. In addition to these challenges, both a challenge and a strength of the New Zealand system is that individuals with disabilities in New Zealand may qualify for provision of services funded by any or all of four different government bodies: the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, and the Accident Compensation Corporation, and Workbridge. Each of these bodies has differing criteria for funding, differing processes, and differing expectations for the outcomes of services, including assistive technology.

Several strategies have been used to attempt to overcome challenges to the development and delivery of effective and efficient assistive technology services in New Zealand. First among them is the formation of the Assistive Technology Alliance of New Zealand (http://www.atanz.org.nz), a national professional organization of service providers from all parts of the country who have assistive technology interests and responsibilities under the auspices of any of the four government bodies or are otherwise engaged in assistive technology service provision. As an organization, ATANZ expects to be able to provide leadership and information that influence the development and delivery of quality assistive technology services that are accessible to all Kiwis with disabilities who require them regardless of location, funding source, or other possible exclusionary criteria.

A second important strategy involves advocacy, professional development, and training. Efforts are being made to increase the awareness of policy-makers and funders about the potential impact that appropriate assistive technology devices and services can make on the personal, educational, and vocational participation and achievement of individuals with disabilities. At the same time, there is a powerful focus on increasing the capacity of people with disabilities, their family members, and services providers throughout the country to actively participate in the identification of personal, educational, and vocational goals that can be addressed assistive technology devices and services.

A unifying tool that has been used to support increased awareness and increased capacity is the SETT Framework. SETT is an acronym for Students, Environments , Tasks, and Tools. (Though the SETT Framework was originally designed for use in schools, its elements, with minor adjustments, have been equally useful in other environments.) The SETT Framework is built on the premise that in order to develop an appropriate system of assistive technology devices and services, teams must first gather information about the person (student, self, client), the customary environments in which they spend their time, and the tasks that are required for the them to be active participants in activities and processes that lead to increases in functional outcomes related to educational, vocational, recreational, medical, or other goals important to the individual and significant others. When this has been done, teams are able to organize their shared knowledge in a way that enables them to create Student (or self or client) -centered, Environmentally useful, and Tasks-focused Tool systems that foster the abilities of individuals with disabilities to address identified goals and reach expected outcomes.

In this presentation Aaron Knotts, an occupational therapist with AbleTech, an assistive technology trust in New Zealand, and Joy Zabala, the developer of the SETT Framework, and, will share examples, anecdotes, experiences, and reflections about the collaborative work in New Zealand that will be useful to others who are striving to develop and deliver quality assistive technology services in environments that involve distance, remote locations, few service providers, and limited resources.


AbleTech. Available online at http://www.abletech.org.nz

Accident Compensation Corporation of New Zealand. Available online at http://www.acc.co.nz/about-acc.

Assistive Technology Alliance of New Zealand. Available online at http://www.atanz.org.nz.

New Zealand Ministry of Education. Available onlines at http://www.moe.govt.nz/

New Zealand Ministry of Health. Available online at http://www.moh.govt.nz/moh.nsf

Zabala, J.S. (2002). A brief introduction to the SETT Framework. Available online at http://www.joyzabala.com.

The Tasks

The Tools

In the SETT Framework, Tools include devices, services and strategies… everything that is needed to help the student succeed. Analyze the information gather on the Student, the Environments, and the Tasks to address the following questions and activities.

It is expected that the SETT Framework will be useful during all phases of assistive technology service delivery. With that in mind, it is important to revisit the SETT Framework information periodically to determine if the information that is guiding decision-making and implementation is accurate, up to date, and clearly reflects the shared knowledge of all involved.

Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2004 Table of Contents 
Return to Table of Proceedings

Reprinted with author(s) permission. Author(s) retain copyright.