Implementing assistive technology (AT) is more than providing AT to a student. Even the most effective tool can prove highly ineffective without a solid plan in place for implementation. How do IEP teams ensure that their careful consideration and AT trials result in effective AT implementation? An effective implementation plan is the answer.
Effective implementation plans link the student’s IEP goals and expected outcomes as a result of using AT. Effective AT implementation depends on using tools and strategies for the right purpose and in the right way. This may mean that the student and staff needs training on how and when to use the AT. As expected, a common reason that assistive technology fails to help students meet their goals is due to poor communication and ineffective implementation of the AT. Implementation is more likely to go well if everyone is clear about how and when the AT should be used and every effort is made to ensure that the AT is available and usable when needed.
When AT implementation works well, students improve the quantity, quality, and independence of their work by using the tools and strategies to build on their existing strengths.The final phase — Monitor Progress — helps IEP teams thoroughly understand the impact assistive technology has on a student’s performance.
Is there more to AT implementation than just using the tool?
Yes, it is important to gather data on student’s performance while implementing an AT device or service. This information helps educators see the effectiveness of the AT on a student’s performance. The data might also show that the AT is more effective in some environments than others. Or, changes in the student’s performance might mean that adjustments are needed to make the AT even more effective. All these data-informed decisions help teachers and IEP teams make the best decisions in the best interest of students to maximize the benefits of using assistive technology.