Assistive Technologies Research: Training

Assistive technology curriculum structure and content in professional preparation service provider training programs.

Brady R, Long TM, Richards J, Vallin T.  Department of Pediatrics, Center for Child and Human Development, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057-1485, USA.  J Allied Health. 2007 Winter;36(4):183-92.

Assistive technology (AT) and AT services enable children and youth with disabilities and special health care needs to participate in society and are increasingly a part of service provider practice. It is not clear how professional preparation programs are meeting the challenge of preparing service providers to provide AT/AT services. An electronic survey was sent to the program directors for occupational therapy, physical therapy, special education, and speech-language pathology programs in the United States (n = 959) to determine the extent to which AT/AT services were included in the curriculum. The results (n = 153) showed that nearly all of the programs that responded covered AT/AT services in their curriculum, used similar types of faculty and teaching method patterns, and were generally satisfied with the amount of time they spent on the subject. The programs differed, however, in terms of the time spent and emphasis of content specific to their program type. Gaps existed in the extent to which programs covered the influence of culture on the use of AT and addressing the requirement to discuss AT/AT services at every Individualized Education Program meeting. These gaps and emphasis on specific topics within program types indicate that service providers may leave programs with a narrow scope of knowledge about AT/AT services. Information from this survey suggests that to promote contemporary practice in the areas of AT/AT services, entry-level curricula should be enriched or expanded to comprehensively present AT information instruction in this growing service area.


Assistive technology: providing independence for individuals with disabilities.

Berry BE, Ignash S.  University of Miami, Mailman Center for Child Development, School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics in Miami, FL, USA.  Rehabil Nurs. 2003 Jan-Feb;28(1):6-14.

Despite improvements in technology and health care, the number of people with disabilities, and the complexity of needs that they and their families experience, continue to increase. In response to these needs, specialized technology has been developed that helps people with disabilities to become more independent and more involved in the activities in their homes, schools, and communities. However, many individuals with disabilities, their family members, and many rehabilitation service providers are not aware of the availability, use of, and benefits afforded by assistive technology devices. Further, many providers have not received the pre-service academic preparation required to provide services and support to their clients. Preparation includes acquiring the knowledge and skills needed for evaluation of client needs, making appropriate assistive technology recommendations, and developing advocacy skills such as writing letters of necessity that justify funding for assistive technology devices. This article provides information about these issues and suggests that further information is available through continuing education courses as well as articles in the reference list and other sources cited in the accompanying tables.


Broadening opportunities for job seekers with disabilities: strategies to effectively provide assistive technology in One-Stop centers.

Timmons JC, Boeltzig H, Fesko SL, Cohen A, Hamner D.  Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI), University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA, USA.  Work. 2007;28(1):85-93.

The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 mandates that partners in the One-Stop Career Center (One-Stop) system be prepared to serve a diverse customer base, including job seekers with disabilities. For many such individuals, effective service delivery depends in part on the existence of appropriate and efficient assistive technology (AT) options. This article presents challenges experienced by One-Stop partners related to AT provision as well as strategies for providing effective AT support. Findings from case study research conducted in several One-Stops across the country revealed three strategies that have enhanced employment services and addressed barriers. These are (a) an accurate assessment of AT needs, (b) staff training and practice using the equipment, and (c) the ability to make the most of limited financial resources. Implications for the most efficient ways to provide AT options are discussed.

Survey of state vocational rehabilitation counselor roles and competencies in assistive technology.

Noll A, Owens L, Smith RO, Schwanke T.  Stout Vocational Rehabilitation Institute, University of Wisconsin-Stout, Menomonie, WI 54751, USA.  Work. 2006;27(4):413-9.

The delivery of assistive technology (AT) within the state and federal vocational rehabilitation systems in the United States has been developing and refining itself over the last twenty years. Many challenges have been confronted in an attempt to use this relatively new service to increase the employment options and success for individuals with disabilities. In this process, the rehabilitation counselor serves as a critical player in the planning and delivery of AT as it articulates with other rehabilitation services. This study investigated counselor views regarding their role and competence in providing AT services and devices to individuals with disabilities throughout the state of Wisconsin. The results of the survey indicated, in general, that counselors find AT to be a cost-effective service that can increase employment related outcomes. As with other service areas, the counselors’ role in AT service delivery involves coordinating, purchasing and following up on services. Interestingly, while counselors expressed confidence in performing these overall functions, they reported a lack of confidence in identifying the need for AT services. Without a comfort level to make this determination, benefits from the implementation of AT may be quite limited. Results suggest that intervention is needed to improve counselors’ abilities to make decisions regarding AT services.