Archive for September, 2008

AT and the SETT Framework

In my last post, I explained AT and how it applies to many in different settings. This past week a colleague inquired about an AT video in an AT list serve I participate in. I have not seen this video before, but I think it fits well with my previous post. So, I am adding it here.

If you read my “about me” you know that I handle AT for a school district in Connecticut. Some of my responsibilities include training on AT software and devices, assisting the team in the selection process, and implementing AT in the school setting. I work with special educators, general educators, related service personnel, the district ICT staff and families. Through cooperation and collaboration, we help students with disabilities achieve academic success. This post will focus on how it applies to education.

In my earlier post the AT examples I shared involved mobility, communication, visual and hearing impairments. In the school setting, I spend most of my day assisting students with learning disabilities. These students struggle with handwriting, processing, and organization. Tasks like note taking, comprehension, written expression, and locating papers are a few of their daily challenges. To help them, I explore note taking templates, screen readers, digital planners and graphic organizers to name a few strategies. I am faced daily with the expectation that AT will solve all problems. It is difficult to explain that AT is a process. What may be a solution on paper may not be a solution in the classroom, or home environment.  

Joy Zabala , a leader in AT, presented the SETT Framework in 1995 during an AT conference. I have found the SETT Framework to be useful in selecting AT and planning implementation.

= the student. What are their challenges? What are their strengths? In which areas do they feel they struggle? 

E = all environments. This includes the home, school and community. Is there easy access to computers and software? What technology is currently available at home? Are their mobility concerns? What is the teaching style?

T = the tasks. How frequently does the student need to write essays? Does the teacher handout single sheets of homework or packets of pages? How long do teachers anticipate students spend on nightly homework? How long does the particular student spend?

T = the technology tools or strategies. Aligning the tool with the task in the right environment for the student leads to greater success.

As I meet with students, parents, and educators, I stress the importance of the SETT Framework. Most people want to ‘toss’ every technology at the student and sit back waiting for results. Unfortunately, when technology is ‘tossed’ at the student without careful planning with the framework, technology and ultimately the student has very little chance of success. This only leads to more frustration by all. Successful implementation of technology happens with careful evaluating and planning.

 Assistive Technology Boogie. (n.d.). Retrieved from Inclusive Technologies: http://www.inclusive.com/AT_boogie/at30.swf


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AT…What is it?

Many people are confused by the term Assistive Technology (AT). What is it? Who uses it? How is it different from technology? The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004 defines Assistive Technology as: “(‘Assistive Technology’ device) means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a child with a disability. “  This definition provides some guidance as to what AT is. But is still a bit foggy for the nondisabled.

Let me bring AT into your world. It is available in many different settings; the classroom, home, community, and restaurant to name a few. Take a moment and think of a relative who wears glasses or contacts. Those corrective lenses are a form of AT. It is very common and most of us don’t think of glasses as technology, but created many centuries ago to help people who had difficulty seeing. Now think briefly about the local sidewalks. At most corners, curb cutouts are available. These curb cutouts are a form of AT designed to help people with mobility problems. As individuals in wheelchairs gained access to city center streets, city planners recognized how curb cutouts could assist everyone. Parents love the curb cuts when pushing their youngsters in strollers and children love peddling their bike or riding their scooters with the curb cutouts. Individuals in wheelchairs love the freedom and independence they experience strolling neighborhood streets.  Thanks to international flights many people travel and experience different cultures. Because most travelers speak their native language or a few phrases in another language, restaurant owners adapted their menu with pictures to lure tourists inside their restaurant. Even in Chinatown, NYC, Chinese restaurants provide picture menus to help non-Chinese speakers select a meal. These picture menus are another form of AT designed to increase communication abilities. Because of individuals with hearing impairments, we follow newscasters or television programs in crowded noisy sport bars and fitness centers. Closed captioning benefits other settings than just the hearing-impaired community. AT touches all of us.

Most of us utilize and accept AT without another thought. It is there. Someone was thoughtful or kind and developed it. It makes that task easier, whether it is catching up on the latest “House” episode while we exercise or push a stroller around town. For the individual with a disability, AT does more than make a task easier. It permits them to participate in settings than were once unable to participate. It helps them attain personal goals that once seemed unattainable. It gives them a voice to communicate with family and friends. It levels the ‘playing field’ in classrooms giving them an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge. It provides them with independence.

As I continue with my blog entries, I will share some AT tools and strategies. Just as the examples above support both people with abilities and disabilities, I will provide some general technology strategies as well.

IDEA Title 1/A/602: http://idea.ed.gov/explore/view/p/%2Croot%2Cstatute%2CI%2CA%2C602%2C1%2C 

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Hello world!

Welcome to my blog. I’m excited you stopped by. Although this first blog is limited, please stop back again. I have many wonderful technology tools and tips to share with you. Stop back soon.






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