2004 Conference Proceedings

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Dr. Harry (Bud) Rizer, ATP
Center on Disabilities
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330-8340
Phone: 818-677-2578
Email: bud.rizer@csun.edu

Assistive Technology (AT) training comes in many styles and formats. The subject matter itself presents a number of inherent challenges due to the multiple subjects, previous levels of exposure to the subject by the target audience, the dynamic nature of the subject matter itself, and the logistical challenges of integrating efficient and effective training into educational and clinical environments that have little time and financial resources for this type of activity. AT training involves theory as well as practice. The subject matter can be rather technical both in terms of the actual use of the targeted technology as well as in the application of the technology with the intended population. Finally, training in AT assumes an equal knowledge of disability and related issues as well as technology and the many subsets of issues.

The Center on Disabilities (COD) at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) has conducted a certificate level training program since 1997 and has trained over 1,800 participants from around the country and abroad since the outset of the program. Graduates of this program remain in contact with COD and with other graduates through a listserv. A frequent topic posted to the listserv centers around issues of additional training. The need for training is relatively unchallenged. The critical issue centers on the form of training and the delivery method. It appears that different levels of familiarity as well as different areas of specialization result in different preferences for the type, length and source of additional AT training.

The COD continuously collects information regarding training preferences and variables that impact the accessibility to training of professionals employed in the disability field. Through additional online surveys as well as surveys completed during the 2003 COD training program calendar, additional information is being collected regarding training needs, preferences, desired parameters and preferred outcomes. This information is being added to our current database of knowledge to further clarify issues to assure quality training activities in the AT field.

A tremendous amount of financial resources continue to be directed towards the acquisition of AT, but few new resources have developed to assure proper and sufficient training in the use of this technology, either by the professional or the targeted population of persons with disabilities. As a result, there is widespread under-utilization of currently available technology and a high degree of hesitancy on the part of the AT clinicians to recommend unfamiliar or uncomfortable equipment.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Attendees will learn preferred methods, from our survey, of learning about AT and the factors that support these preferences.

  2. Attendees will learn about personnel variables that determine the nature and scope of training that is most effective.

  3. Attendees will acquire demographic information regarding the characteristics of individuals involved full-time in the delivery of AT services.

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