Revisioning AT Services: Overview

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Whether you are a young AT team or an established AT Team, the most important element for teams is to have a clearly defined mission that matches the identified needs of students and staff within the educational organization. Knowing who is served within the district and analyzing the degree to which equitable services are provided across the organization are critical to the delivery of AT.  Young AT teams need to have a clear sense of mission at the start, while established teams may need to re-visit the ways in which their mission and the ways that they provide AT services.

Times change and so has the field of education. Michels’ (2017) research described three current change forces impacting the ways that AT services are provided.  They include changes in the student population, the ubiquitous and more universal nature of educational technology, and the blurring of the lines between AT and instructional technology (IT).  AT services have been with us for over three decades, but has the delivery of AT changed in response to these educational field changes?

It is imperative that we move the field of AT to be able to serve more learners.  Moving toward a more capacity building model of AT service delivery involves change. It may lead to changing the way AT service providers think about their role.

This section of the AT Teamwork Knowledge Base explores descriptions of activities that can help AT teams revision AT services, as well as plan for the future of their team. There are two ways to go about defining a future state and a strategy to get there.  The first is to stand in the present and look back at the past and determine what to do. This usually results in a better, faster, more efficient future. The second is to stand in the present, declare a future possibility free of the constraints of the past,  AND then start to move into that future here and now, in the present. The former is about “change” and it is the good work of managers. The latter is about “transformation” and is the work of LEADERS. It is only by declaring a future and a “way of being” (vs. doing – you know this well) that groups and teams produce extraordinary results.

There is no right or wrong, good or bad in these two approaches.  The important thing is to be clear on “what are we trying to do here” and then pick the right approach.  If you want incremental change, go with the first. If you want transformation get ready to let go of your fears, concerns, doubts, frustrations, disappointments and everything else that you might be carrying around from past experiences that could get in your way of dreaming big and being vulnerable and courageous. It may first require courageous conversations.  AT providers and AT teams should examine their practices on a regular basis and agree on new directions for change. This is the work of re-visioning.

Reference:  Michels, Carol M., (2017). The role of the assistive technology department in a special education cooperative. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation, part 1). National Louis University, Milwaukee, WI. Author Contact Information: cmichels@nssed.org.