Putting the AT Plan Into Action

By Shelley Lacey-Castelot, ATACP, M.S.

AT A GLANCE

Assistive Technology often fails because of problems with implementation • Developing an implementation plan ensures that your child will receive the AT benefits intended by his team • A thorough plan includes hardware and software specifications, a training component, and workflow details


1.4.5 AT ImplementationThe assistive technology (AT) evaluation has been completed, the report has been reviewed by the IEP team, and some or all of the recommendations have been accepted. It’s now time to implement the recommendations everyone has signed off on.

While this may seem like the easy part, it’s not. In fact AT often fails due to incorrect or incomplete implementation. To avoid that, it is critical that a precise AT implementation plan is developed. The following guidelines will help ensure that your child’s use of AT achieves what it’s meant to.

Hardware and Software
  • Precise configuration of the computer (including processor speed, RAM, and possibly even weight) to be used. For students with disabilities other than learning disabilities who may need additional AT, include the names and model numbers of that hardware too.
  • Specify which computer or computers will be used by the student; whether the computer is a desktop, laptop, or an iPad. If a desktop, will a copy of all software be installed on the student’s home computer so that he can complete homework, and if so, by whom and by when. If a laptop or an iPad will go back and forth with the student, what is the configuration of the equipment on which the programs will be installed?
  • Specify any other hardware that is required, such as microphones (brand; whether one is needed for home, and another for school), carrying cases, printers, slant boards, scanners, portable electronic readers, calculators, Smart Pens, digital paper, etc.
  • Names and version numbers of all software as well as information about when the software will be installed and by whom.
  • Precise description and/or brand and model names of any low-tech devices. If the devices/materials are consumable (ink, paper, etc.), include the amount that will be needed at start-up, when and how often supplies will be ordered, and by whom.
  • Specify who will ensure that the computer is configured correctly, and the names and contact information for technology personnel who can be called upon to troubleshoot should problems arise.
Training

Two stages of training should be laid out: training in the software and/or hardware itself and training in how to use the assistive technology to complete academic tasks. Other items include:

  • Exactly how much training will be provided for each piece of assistive technology; when it will begin and when it should be completed.
  • Who will do the training and what members of the student’s team will be present at the training sessions.
  • How long each training session will last and how frequently they will take place.
  • What equipment and items will be needed during the training. For example, if the student is to receive training in an electronic reading program, what digital textbooks, novels, and classroom materials will be needed, how those will be provided, by whom, and by when.
  • What the student is expected to be able to do at the completion of the training; what academic tasks the student should now be able to do. These may be separate goals or integrated into current goals and objectives.
Workflow
  • Who will procure any digital text (how, from where, and by when); how will it be delivered to the student.
  • How will the student deliver his work (print it out and hand it to the teacher, email it to the teacher, etc.). If the student is to print his work is he to do that at home and on what printer, or at school and on what printer.
  • Will the student be able to use his AT to complete work in the classroom, or will he need to move to another location; if the latter, what is that location.

This may seem to be a huge amount of information, but it is the careful planning of the implementation details that determine its success or failure. If you want the student to achieve independent success through AT, you must plan carefully and follow the plan exactly.

Electronic Implementation Plan forms can be completed at a team planning meeting, distributed to all members of the team, including the parents and the student, and should then be attached to the IEP.

Shelley Lacey-Castelot, ATACP, M.S. is the Director of Literacy Solutions in Oxford, CT, and an expert in the evaluation and use of assistive technology for students with LD and attention disorders.

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