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Assistive technology consideration

“Technology is a tool that serves a set of

education goals, and if we don't think about what we want the technology for first, we end up with technology-driven solutions that have very little impact in the lives of children and in our educational system.”

-Linda Roberts

Past Director of Educational Technology

U.S. Department of Education

Assistive technology consideration

The use of a process and framework can assist teams in considering a child’s assistive technology needs.

SETTis one example of a framework that assists teams in the consideration process.

Assistive technology consideration





Assistive technology consideration

  • SETT

  • Student Environment Tasks Tools

  • by

  • Joy Zabala


  • Student: Describe the child in detail and include how a disability affects his or her ability to participate.

  • Environment: Describe all environments in which the child participates and the supports available.

  • Task: Identify the specific tasks and activities that the child needs to participate in.

  • Tools: Consider a wide range of strategies to support and extend the abilities of the child.

Assistive technology consideration


Student Environment Tasks Tools

By Joy Zabala (1994)


S tudent

  • What are the student’s current abilities?

  • What are the student’s special needs?

  • What are the functional areas of concern?

  • What are the other students doing that this student needs to be able to do?

  • What does the student need to be able to do that is difficult or impossible to accomplish independently at this time?

Assistive technology consideration


Student Environment Tasks Tools

By Joy Zabala (1994)



E nvironments

  • What activities take place in the environment?

  • Where will the student participate—classroom, home, community, therapy?

  • What is the physical arrangement?

  • What activities do other students do that this student cannot currently participate in?

  • What assistive technology does the student have access to or currently use?

Assistive technology consideration


Student Environment Tasks Tools

By Joy Zabala (1994)




T asks

  • What specific tasks occur in the environments that enable progress toward mastery of IEP goals and objectives?

  • What activities is the student expected to do?

  • What does success look like?

Assistive technology consideration


Student Environment Tasks Tools

By Joy Zabala (1994)





T ools

  • Tools are devices and services—anything that is needed to help the student participate and benefit from.

  • Tools are on a continuum from no/low-, mid-, high-tech.

  • Tools must be student centered and task oriented and reflect current student needs.

  • Describe tool features that are needed rather than brand names.

  • Identify skills the student needs to use the tool.

Tool selection
Tool Selection

  • Identify what tools may address the tasks the student is experiencing difficulty with.

  • Begin with no-/low tech strategies

    • Reinforces least restrictive options

    • Simple to use and acquire

    • More readily accepted by student, family, and peers.

  • Student may require a range of strategies for an individual task.

  • Consider no/low-tech options as a back up for mid- or high-tech options.

  • Consider student and family preferences.

Assistive technology consideration

Team Approach

Multiple perspectives from a number of disciplines will ensure that the needs of the child are addressed and supports are provided across all environments.

Who is on the team
Who is on the team?

  • Student

  • Parents/family

  • District Personnel - Team membership is flexible and based on student need.

    Members may include:

    • Assistive Technology Specialist

    • Special Education Teacher

    • General Education Teacher

    • Social Worker

    • Occupational Therapist

    • Speech and Language Pathologist

    • School Administrator

    • Physical Therapist

    • School Psychologist

    • Para-Educator

    • District Technology Coordinator

Critical elements of sett
Critical Elements of SETT

  • Student Centered

  • Shared knowledge and collaboration

  • Multiple perspectives

  • Communication

  • Pertinent information and resources

  • Flexibility

  • Ongoing processes

  • Collaboration

Implementation plan
Implementation Plan

  • Prioritized tasks and tool strategies to be addressed

  • Who will be in charge of getting the “tools”


  • Data collection plan to document outcomes of strategy/tool use (trial periods)

Acquisition of tools
Acquisition of Tools

  • Identify who will locate materials/device?

  • Borrow, rent, purchase?

  • Cost of device and who will purchase?

  • Possible funding sources?


  • Who is going to need training (student, teacher, parents, para)?

  • Who will do the training?

  • How much time will it take to train?

  • When will the training be scheduled?

  • What is the cost? Is training provided free by manufacturer or vendor?

Data collection and documentation
Data Collection and Documentation

Data collection and documentation is an ongoing

process that is used to review and revise a

student’s plan. This includes:

  • Formal or informal assessment data identify baseline performance, specific needs, and initial assistive technology implementation.

  • Performance data support or disprove solutions tried (tool trials).

  • Performance data evaluate outcomes and measure student performance toward goals.


  • A SETT Framework is ONGOING.

  • Re-SETTing is not starting over…

    • It is a matter of keeping decision-guiding information accurate, up to date, and clearly inclusive of the shared knowledge of all involved.

References resources

  • MATR (Michigan’s Assistive Technology Resource)

  • WATI (Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative)

  • Joy Zabala, Assistive Technology Consultant