Assistive Technology Professional Development
Administrators from the district level to the school level play a vital and integral role in the delivery of AT services and supports within the school setting. Clear leadership, direction, and support for educational teams are needed to include the possible development of an AT team. Ideally, an AT team can comprise general and special educators, related service professionals, IT professionals, certified AT personnel, paraprofessionals and administrators.
It is the responsibility of the administrator to keep the team focused, to understand the nature of change, to facilitate teams, and their relationships, to assist with the building of knowledge, and to develop a clear message in terms of AT services and delivery (Fullan, 2001).
The administrator has many responsibilities to ensure effective AT services for students. Critical elements include ensuring that policies and guidelines for AT are developed and disseminated; effectively reinforcing to team members that the main purpose of AT within the schools is to support the implementation of the IEP; providing appropriate resources, time allotment, and professional development opportunities for individuals within AT teams as well as in PPT/IEP teams; supporting district personnel in not only providing AT services, but also making sure that capacity-building in ATtakes place for all team members; and ensuring that teams evaluate the effectiveness of AT interventions and supports on a regular basis.
Administrators should ensure that the school district has written procedural guidelines that ensure equitable access to AT devices and services for students with disabilities, if required for FAPE ( QIAT, 2009). The quality indicators for administrative support of ATprovide guidelines and suggestions to administrators so they can develop sustainable AT programs as well as evaluate them.
- For more information on the quality indicators for administrative support of AT, refer to appendix 1, appendix 2, and appendix 3.
However, the mere creation of such procedures is not enough for effective AT services. It is the administrator’s responsibility to ensure that such procedures are broadly disseminated throughout the LEA, that they are implemented, and that training on such procedures is provided when necessary. Additionally, if AT responsibilities are included and expected within the job responsibilities of staff, those AT responsibilities should be clearly defined within the staff member’s job description.
Conversely, if AT responsibilities are included in staff job descriptions, it is the responsibility of administration to hire staff with AT qualifications and experience and/or to provide training to that staff member so he or she is able to provide high-quality educational services. In addition, administration should make sure that AT devices and supports are actually allocated within the budgeting process.
Administrators should also provide access to ongoing learning opportunities regarding AT to staff, to the student, and to the family when necessary. Training and technical assistance include any topic pertinent to the selection, acquisition, or use of AT or any other aspect of AT service delivery.
Lastly, administration should have a systematic process to evaluate AT services and support. The components of the evaluation process include, but are not limited to, planning, budgeting, decision-making, delivering AT services to students, and evaluating the impact of AT services on student achievement. There should be clear evaluation procedures that all administrators know about and use on a regular basis at central office and building levels ( QIAT, 2009).