Implementing AT- do you have a plan?

I recently just finished two different AT evaluations for various school districts and very diverse learners.  One was a 6th-grade learner who used Alternative Communication (iPad with an app), and they weren’t using it much in school.  They were wondering if another tool may be better.  Another was a learner who was in middle school and needed to access his textbooks in a different way.  They were all electronic, and he still couldn’t keep up.  Both of these learners had access to different tools, yet neither was successful.

4 adults each holding a large puzzle piece, putting them together

Why?  There was no planning put into the implementation and training on the AT tools.  For both of these learners and many others, I highly recommend putting an AT Implementation plan into effect.  This is a tool that the IEP team works on together and specifically indicates who will do what by when. For example, if training on the tools is needed, who will train?  By when?  Who needs to be trained?  All this is spelled out in the plan, and it makes it so much easier to determine if the tool is appropriate and meeting the student’s goals!  Additionally, information on how to obtain the tools can be included, who is in charge of maintenance, and other critical information that can determine the success, or failure, of the learner using the tools. 

The importance of an Assistive Technology Implementation plan, and the elements it should contain, was also noted by QIAT- the national Quality Indicators in Assistive Technology group.  This group created a Guiding Document for AT Implementation, which is a fabulous resource for teams looking to create their own AT Implementation Plans.  

There is also a form that I have used in the past to help teams think through the different elements of successful implementation.  This form was created by the now-defunct National Assistive Technology Research Institute (NATRI) in the early 2000s.  It can be found at this link- 31 NATRI Implementation Plan.pdf.  I have successfully introduced this form to several teams, and it generally brings the team together, as they can assign different members of the team different tasks, and everyone can see who is doing what.  

The takeaway in all of this is that obtaining appropriate Assistive Technology for a learner is truly just the first step in helping the learner meet their goals.  Implementation planning is critical to success.