What if students with disabilities, from pre-kindergarten right through high school, had greater access to assistive technology that could optimally support their functional, social, emotional, and academic goals? How could that greater access be initiated?
A RESNA position paper on that topic is currently seeking public comments until Oct. 19.
The paper — with the working title “RESNA Position Paper on the Capacity-Building Role of an Assistive Technology Specialist in PreK-12 Educational Settings” — suggests that assistive technology professionals could take an active role in teaching other educational professionals about assistive technology.
“This position paper advocates for increased access to assistive technology for all students with disabilities by defining capacity-building as a significant job responsibility of assistive technology (AT) specialists who work in school settings,” the paper’s introduction says. “Unlike AT practitioners who provide AT services to individuals as part of health or governmental services, an essential role of AT specialists who work in school settings is building the capacity of other school professionals to contribute to the provision of AT services.”
The paper added that capacity-building “generally refers to building the human, organizational, structural and material resources needed to carry out the goals of business, community, government, non-profit, or educational entities.” The opposite of a capacity-building model is an expert model, “in which AT services are performed exclusively by AT specialists.”
In a capacity-building strategy, school professionals would be educated on assistive technology via individual coaching, group presentations, and on-demand resources such as Webinars and instructional videos.
The overall goal would be to teach more school professionals about assistive technology so they could advocate for access.
“Some tasks related to the provision of AT services in schools still require someone with specialized expertise and dedicated time to carry them out,” the paper says, “but the capacity-building approach looks for ways to equip all members of a student’s team to take responsibility for AT services that are within their scope of practice.”
The school professionals being targeted include teachers, both special education and general education; paraprofessionals; social workers; counselors, occupational and physical therapists; speech-language pathologists; school psychologists; and administrators.
Click HERE to read the position paper and comment until Oct. 19.