Connecticut Assistive Technology Guidelines - Section 1: For Ages 3-21

Documentation, Implementation And Effectiveness

Chapter contents


AT devices and services that have been determined to be educationally necessary by the PPT/IEP team as related services or supplementary aids and services should be documented in the IEP under the accommodations section (page 8), recorded that assistive technology is “required” (page 11), and reflected as needed throughout the document.

The QIAT can assist PPT/IEP team members in describing and assessing their current practices as they relate to the role of AT in the student’s educational program (appendix 1, appendix 2, appendix 3). When appropriate, AT should be integrated into goals and objective statements and transition planning. If AT is required as a component of standardized assessment, the AT should be indicated in the IEP area for standardized testing accommodations and modifications, and a statement should be included to describe the use of the AT. AT documentation should also include the training for the student and where appropriate, for the educators and other service providers (e.g., paraprofessionals) and family members.

Examples of Documenting AT in the   IEP 

  • John demonstrates difficulty completing all writing assignments using standard classroom tools such as pencil and paper. His writing samples are characterized by spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. He uses a handheld spell-checker to aid him in editing his handwritten communication. John also uses a computer-based word processing program with built-in spelling, grammar, and punctuation checks.
  • Susan requires access to her augmentative communication device across all special education and related services. The classroom teacher as well as the speech and language pathologist and occupational therapist will be responsible for providing training in the programming and use of the augmentative communication device. Susan’s general education and special education teachers will receive training in the use and programming of her device.
  • Kira will write a three- to five-sentence paragraph with no more than one misspelled word when using a handheld spell checker to correct misspelled words.
  • Due to her severe visual impairment, Shantae requires that all testing materials, including directions and, if appropriate, answer sheets, be provided for her use in Braille.

The documentation of AT devices and services should be clearly written so that all PPT/IEP team members, including parents, have a full understanding of how the ATdevices and services will be provided. It is not required to name the specific name brand of AT, but the PPT/IEP team should describe features of the required technology.

For information and examples of description of the features of technology, please refer to the Georgia Project for Assistive Technology Web site.

Requirements Based on IEP Manual

The PPT/IEP team should list the AT devices and services as they relate to the student’s active participation in educational activities, assessments, extracurricular activities, and typical routines on page 8 of the IEP. The “snapshot” view of the service provisions is on page 11 of the IEP, including a description of special education services, related services, participation in the regular education curriculum, service time requirements, and least restrictive environment information. If AT is required, it should be recorded in this section, corresponding with the description noted on page 8. Documentation of AT in the IEP should be included in other areas that are not mentioned here such as in meeting minutes, special factors, recommendations, an area of strength when AT is already in place and helping a student to be successful, and/or transition planning .

Documenting AT in 504 Plans

AT can be documented under the accommodations in a 504 Plan. For example, “Amy will be provided with 30 minutes extended time on tests to be able to use voice recognition software (e.g., Dragon Naturally Speaking ),” or “Steven will use a webcam to access a class if and when he has to remain at home because of a medical condition that prevented him from attending on any given day.”

Implementation of AT

AT implementation encompasses the ways that AT devices and services are included in the IEP and are integrated into the student’s educational program (appendix 1, appendix 2, appendix 3). The entire PPT/IEP team, and the AT team, is involved in collaborating to help support the student using AT. The focus of the PPT/IEP team should be to ensure that the AT assists the student in completing tasks necessary for progress toward IEP goals and objectives, as well as for the student to be an active participant within the educational environments (QIAT, 2009).

Once the team has considered AT during the IEP process, an implementation plan should be established. The plan, developed collaboratively, should provide detailed information regarding how the AT should be used in specific environments and for specific tasks, what needs to be completed for successful implementation, and who will do what tasks ( QIAT, 2009). The implementation plan should ensure that AT is integrated into the student’s curriculum and daily activities and across applicable environments. The primary focus of AT in the plan is to facilitate the student’s access to the curriculum, but it also may facilitate active participation in educational activities, assessments, extracurricular activities, and typical routines (QIAT, 2009). This plan should also enable team members to share responsibility and be accountable for the implementation of the plan. Team members should know their responsibilities, roles, and expectations. Additionally, implementation includes the management and maintenance of materials and equipment. The team should delineate who is responsible for the organization of equipment and materials; for acquisition, set-up, repair, and replacement in a timely fashion; and for ensuring that equipment is operational (QIAT, 2009). There are many examples of implementation plans available, such as NATRI and GPAT.

Included within a student’s implementation plan should be statements of training is necessary for the student, team, and family. Training should be determined by how the AT will be used in each environment and implemented as part of an ongoing process based on the changing needs of the student and environment (QIAT, 2009). The quality indicators for implementation of AT

For more information on the quality indicators for implementation of AT, refer to appendix 1, appendix 2, and appendix 3.

can help educators access their current practices and to ensure that the AT is being implemented effectively in the classroom (QIAT Web site).

AT should be one of a variety of strategies that the team employs for student success. Students and teams should be encouraged to use all types of strategies that assist with the removal of barriers to participation or student performance (QIAT, 2009). Since the AT implementation plan should initially be based on consideration and/or assessment data, the plan should be monitored and data should be taken to determine student progress. The plan should be adjusted and improved on based on this ongoing data. Examples of trial forms are available. Teams should be aware that implementation and assessment are inextricably linked and that both occur on an ongoing basis.

Some big ideas to keep in mind in terms of AT intervention:

  • Implementation includes devices, services, and strategies that promote student achievement.
  • Implementation focuses on functional areas of concern when and where they occur.
  • Implementation is an ongoing process involving the student, PPT, and others who work with the student.
  • Implementation requires a collaborative plan by all stakeholders (TATN, 2009).

Guiding Questions for Implementation of   AT 

Teams will need to evaluate the effectiveness of the AT implementation plan. It is expected that the AT should have a positive impact on student achievement and/or functional performance. This could include communication, productivity, participation, environmental controls, progress in curricular expectations, progress in specific functional skills, or other domains. Team members should ask themselves a few guiding questions when determining appropriate AT interventions and implementation planning:

  • What aspects of performance do they expect will change?
  • What are the specifics of how the student should use AT (what tasks, under what conditions, where, when, how, and with whom)?
  • What may need to be changed (use of AT, educational strategies, accommodations, and modifications)?
  • What supports and cues will the student require to be successful (auditory, visual tactile, least to most, most to least, etc.)?
  • What training does the student and the team need to have effective implementation?
  • Are there any changes in the physical environment that need to be made to support student success (physical, sensory, availability of technology, access to technology)?
  • Who are the adults actually involved in implementation (teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, family, administrators, etc.)?
  • What tasks do the adults need to accomplish to assist with supporting the student’s effective use of AT (make available the technology, provide supervision or support, take data, assist with maintaining equipment)?
  • What training do the adults need (device, strategies, how to get help when needed, troubleshooting, etc.)?
  • What resources are needed by the adults to assist with implementation and training (AT practitioners and training from outside agencies, administrative support, vendor support, time)? (TATN, 2009)

After the supports defined in the implementation plan have been provided, teams should evaluate their AT interventions to determine effectiveness. Guiding questions could include:

  • What evidence will be collected to convince us that AT is supporting the expected change in student performance (achievement, functional capabilities, progress in goals and objectives)?
  • What will be measured to determine if changes in performance occurred (quality, quantity, independence, accuracy, spontaneity, speed, frequency, duration, latency)?
  • What strategies will be used for data collection (interview, discussion, observation, subjective reporting, student work review, video, etc.)?
  • When and for what reason will data be reviewed and analyzed (frequency during implementation, periodically scheduled reviews, formative or summative evaluation)?
  • What are we looking for when we analyze data (changes in student achievement or performance, expected results, unexpected results, barriers removed, continuing barriers, emerging barriers)?
  • What changes should be made to improve implementation (consider if the student is not progressing, if expected results are not being achieved or criteria are not being met. Also consider implementation modifications when there are noted changes: in the student needs, in the environment, and task demands).

Effective intervention requires a collaborative plan. Implementation is effective when data show that student achievement and performance meet criteria.

For an example of a data collection form, please refer to appendix 10 and appendix 11.

Implementation should be changed when data indicate it is not successful and decisions about change are based on data review and analysis (TATN, 2009).

Effectiveness of AT

The effectiveness of AT is determined by the impact it has on the quality of life of the user; that is, fostering the participation, independence, and self-confidence of the user. To consider the impact and effectiveness of AT, it is important to examine the device in terms of its efficiency, usefulness, and availability for the student. For example, if a student is using a computer-based writing tool, then the software should enable the student to participate with ease in all or most academic activities that require students to write; be valued by all stakeholders as having a positive impact; be easy to set up and use after training has been provided; and be available whenever the student needs to complete a writing assignment.

The student’s PPT/IEP team should monitor the use of the AT technology (as outlined in the IEP). Periodic data collection across all environments should be conducted when the student is using the recommended device to evaluate the effectiveness and make changes as needed. For example, if the student is using software to write, then its actual effectiveness can be determined only if the student uses it for all writing assignments across all curricular areas. Once the evaluation has been completed, the PPT/IEP team should make relevant changes in the student’s IEP. The quality indicators for evaluating the effectiveness of AT provide guidelines that enable educators to analyze and monitor changes in student performance as a result of ATimplementation (appendix 1, appendix 2, appendix 3).

Regular evaluation of efficiency, usefulness, and availability will enable service providers to consider the continuum of AT devices (from low- through high-tech) and cater to the needs of students with disabilities as well as meet changing academic and social demands. The responsibility of providing AT devices and services should not and does not lie only with the special educator or the AT specialist. When AT is used across environments as it should be, the entire team is responsible for it. Shared responsibility relates to all educators knowing what technology is being used; how the student is using it; when it should be made available; and responsibilities of the team members (i.e., programming, setting up, providing relevant information as necessary to program or set up the AT, backup plan, identifying responsibilities of the team members and carrying them through).