Assistive technology (AT) evaluation is a systematic, process-based approach to providing a functional assessment of a student's need for AT in their usual environment. It is a team process that involves many approaches to assessing students' learning needs and the benefits of AT to support those needs. This article will provide an overview of the evaluation and referral steps that special education teams or AT team coordinators can use to plan, implement, and track AT needs and student progress.Assistive technology can increase student opportunities for education, social interactions, and meaningful employment. The People with Disabilities Act (IDEA) requires school district IEP teams to consider whether a student needs “assistive technology devices and services” to achieve their goals and then integrate any effective AT into the student's IEP.
The Georgia Department of Education offers numerous resources developed by the Georgia Assistive Technology Project (GPAT) to help guide IEP teams through the AT evaluation process.Based on the analysis of the results, an action plan should be developed and incorporated into the IEP as consideration documentation for the assistive technology that will be used to meet the appropriate educational needs of the student in the least restrictive environment (LRE). This can include a variety of interventions achieved through strategies or modifications that are not normally considered to be assistive technology.It's important to remember that considering assistive technology and evaluating its role in a student's educational program are an ongoing process. Decisions about the use of the assistive technology device or service in other environments outside of school should be made on an individual basis. The Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative (WATI) provides a free downloadable version of the Assistive Technology Student Needs Assessment (ASNAT) manual that includes a variety of evaluation forms.The IEP team must determine if a particular child needs an assistive technology device or service and, if so, the nature and scope that will be provided.
The Student, Environments, Tasks and Tools (SETT) framework was developed to help school teams gather the information needed to make decisions about the assistive technology needs of their students.In conclusion, AT evaluation is an important part of providing students with disabilities with access to education, social interactions, and meaningful employment. It is essential for IEP teams to consider whether a student needs AT devices or services in order to achieve their goals. The SETT framework can be used to help school teams gather information about AT needs and make decisions accordingly.