Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Assistive technology (AT) plays an important role in both students’ and teachers’ educational experiences. The Assistive Technology Forward project, a Wisconsin DPI and CESA 2 joint project supported through CARES Act ESSER funding, recently developed the Wisconsin Assistive Technology Resource Map to connect those who need assistive technology with the materials they need to succeed. CESA 2 describes the map as providing, “a visual representation of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) regions, Independent Living Center (ILC) regions, Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA) regions and Statewide Assistive Technology resources available to educators and families to access assistive technology throughout the state of Wisconsin.”
The map was also created based on stakeholder input from those providing assistive technology to students throughout the state of Wisconsin. Jennifer Schubring, a Speech-Language Pathologist, says that “with so many resources and funding options out there, it can be difficult to know where to look. Having a map to identify possible sources, who to contact, and some guiding questions to ask is an invaluable resource for IEP teams and caregivers who are seeking to support assistive technology tools and services.” Schubring went on to state, “having a lending center available allows the IEP team to feature match and trial equipment to ensure it meets the unique needs of the student before considering funding options.” This map can help bring down barriers keeping students from finding the assistive technology they need.
The Assistive Technology Lending Center (ATLC) is housed at CESA 2, which is located in Whitewater, Wisconsin. This statewide center is a lending library of high-end Alternative and Augmentative Communication equipment. The equipment is available for trial use at no cost to Wisconsin LEA (local education agency) public school licensed professional educators for students ages 3-21, who are enrolled in a Wisconsin LEA school program and have an IEP. Schubring’s district utilizes the ATLC lending library to help individuals trial multiple AT devices without the lengthy paperwork process and large costs incurred from manufacturers. Finding the right device, Schubring says, “makes the individual more autonomous with their communication, and provides the student more opportunities for success post-graduation.” Without the ATLC lending library, many students would not be able to find the right assistive technology they need.
Navigating the AT world can be challenging and overwhelming, but the Wisconsin Assistive Technology Resource Map serves as a starting point for individuals with disabilities, educators, and caregivers. Visit the WI DPI Assistive Technology webpage for more resources regarding this topic.
Subscriber submission: Emily Janicik, Wisconsin DPI