Bausch, M.E., Ault, M.J., Evmenova, A.S., & Behrmann, M.M. (2008). Going beyond AT devices: Are AT services being considered? Journal of Special Education Technology, 23 (2), 1-16.
Assistive Technology (AT) is, “any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device.” The purpose of this national study was to examine the implementation of AT services for students with disabilities. As quoted above, the article begins by defining what Assistive Technology is as defined by IDEIA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (2004)) and what AT services are provided under IDEIA. It examines the sources from which students using AT receive services.
The study, conducted by the National Assistive Technology Research Institute (NATRI), used paper and online surveys to gather their information. They surveyed service professionals who use AT and who served students aged 3-21 years with disabilities from 10 different states and 43 different districts. In addition to these schools, the National Assistive Technology Research Institute (NATRI) surveyed 6 districts, inquiring about all the students that were receiving AT services. Lastly the NATRI collected surveys from national conferences in which they spoke. The information gathered by the surveys represented people with disabilities from all of the categories specified by IDEIA. Totaled up, the survey included AT service professionals from 14 states and 60 school districts.
After collecting over 600 surveys the NATRI found that 40.2% of students receiving AT services are receiving federally defined AT services, 19.6% are receiving unclassifiable services and 40.2% are receiving services that are not AT services. Nearly 16 percent of the surveyed professionals reported students using AT devices and receiving no services. The study also found that there is a great need for training in assistive technology for educators who are using it with their students. The article also discusses that much of the discussion surrounding AT is not on how to implement it, but rather figuring out policies and procedures for determining how a student would benefit from AT and how to provide services. The article notes that a student’s IEP must include specifically outlined, necessary services for AT implementation and maintenance.