The AT Partnership Education Program – Nebraska

Logo for the AT Program in Nebraska

The Assistive Technology Partnership (ATP) in Nebraska values partnerships and works in collaboration with various state and federal programs. Each of these partnerships results in different programs within ATP.   The ATP Education Program, for instance, is a joint effort between the Nebraska Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and the Nebraska ATP. The ATP Education Program is charged with building systemic capacity for high-quality AT services for both IDEA Part C (birth-3 early intervention) and IDEA Part B (3-21 school-aged) special education services.  As such, the ATP Education Program does not provide direct services to children and students but, rather, provides an array of technical assistance and other supports to empower IFSP and IEP Teams to provide AT services to the children and students they serve.

There are two primary guides that the ATP Education Program uses to guide its practices and activities.  First, the term quality is defined through the Quality Indicators of Assistive Technology Services (QIAT Indicators).  The QIAT Indicators comprise eight indicator areas specific to the actions and responsibilities involved in ensuring quality AT Services are provided (Bowser et al., 2020).  The second is a document put together by the Center to Improve Program and Project Performance (CIPP) entitled, Conceptualizing Capacity Building (Lammert et al., 2015).  This document outlines a multidimensional approach to capacity building that includes types of capacity, levels of capacity, stages of capacity building, and outcomes of capacity building.  The approach allows the ATP Education Program to consider, plan for, implement, and evaluate its capacity-building efforts within and across each dimension.

Activity Area 1:  Increasing Quality of AT Services Through the State of Nebraska

In this first area, the ATP Education Program focuses on building individual and organizational capacity by providing three levels of technical assistance (TA):  Universal, Targeted, and Intensive.  Universal TA is provided freely and may be accessed on-demand by any educator, related service provider, administrator, or family member within Nebraska. Universal TA activities include conducting webinars on AT tools and processes, phone/email/video chat support for each AT equipment loan request received, developing/disseminating resources, providing demonstration videos of AT tools, exhibiting at statewide/regional conferences, developing/disseminating tip sheets/forms to support AT processes, and offering online courses regarding AT processes (both self-developed and in partnership with the ATIA Learning Center). The ATP Education Program has also partnered with other entities to share resources through its Resource Database

Targeted TA activities focus on providing professional development experiences for specific events (e.g., conferences) and/or are regionally specific (e.g., requested regional workshops).  These are often more narrowly defined topics in response to specific needs and may take the form of one-time trainings, multi-part trainings, book studies, online learning experiences, communities of practice (e.g., AT Leaders and AAC), and individual/team coaching. 

Finally, Intensive TA involves sustained activities occurring for longer durations, with ongoing contact, and with specific outcomes.  For intensive TA, the ATP Education Program offers the AT Cadre. The AT Cadre is composed of up to 21 individuals across Nebraska who receive intensive professional development during an 8-month period. Each AT Cadre member (a) engages in monthly professional development experiences (though access to materials created by the ATP Education Program, access to the ATIA Learning Center, and the QIAT Companion); (b) sets personal goals and receives personalized coaching from ATP Education Program Staff and/or former AT Cadre Completers; (c) participates in a Nebraska AT Community of Practice; and (d) engages in an individual knowledge and skill application project that applies their learning and aims to improve AT practices in their team, school, or system.

Activity Area 2:  Improving the technology infrastructure regarding AT throughout the State of Nebraska.

The ATP/Ed Program maintains a Statewide Education Loan Pool that is supported and made available through EDUCATION.AT4ALL.COM. Items in this loan pool may be borrowed by education personnel that serve on children’s IFSP teams or students’ IEP teams. Equipment may be borrowed for the purposes of engaging in an evaluation of the AT needs of children/students. Each requester is provided TA from the ATP Education Program staff to help develop capacity for engaging in quality evaluation/assessment, acquisition, and implementation processes. Loans may also be made to serve as a loaner while waiting for repair or funding, or to provide an accommodation on a short-term basis.  Finally, loans of AT equipment may be used for professional development purposes. 

Activity Area 3: Increasing the engagement of key stakeholders (e.g., other state technical assistance programs, community-based programs, state agencies, etc.) and constituencies (e.g., school-based members of the IEP/IFSP Teams) regarding AT and AT services.

Engaging in partnerships is essential for capacity building within educational systems to support quality AT services for children/students receiving special education services. The goal is to discover opportunities to meaningfully integrate quality AT services into the practices of different initiatives and efforts.  As such, the ATP Education Program implements an ATP Education Advisory Group to garner feedback for guiding and supporting program TA activities and equipment purchases. The ATP Education Program also serves on other stakeholder groups, advisory boards, and planning groups to coordinate efforts and activities to help build capacity for quality AT services in Nebraska. 

Conclusion

Through these activities, in aggregate, the ATP Education Program works toward systemic change to improve the AT services for children and students receiving special education services in Nebraska. 

References

Lammert, J. D., Johnson, L., & Fiore, T. A. (2015). Conceptualizing capacity building. Rockville, MD: Westat.

QIAT Leadership Team.  (2020). The QIAT companion: A just-in-time resource for implementing the quality indicators for assistive technology.  CAST Professional Publishing: Wakefield, MA.

Published On: May 17, 2024Categories: Education, Program Spotlights
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The AT3 Center, the Association of AT Act Programs (ATAP), and the Administration on Community Living (ACL) make no endorsement, representation, or warranty expressed or implied for any product, device, or information set forth in this blog. The AT3 Center, ATAP, and ACL have not examined, reviewed, or tested any product or device hereto referred.

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