Providing Assistive Technology:
How to Develop an Effective Service Delivery Model

A WebQuest for Educators and Administrators

Designed by Marika Wong

Introduction | Task | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion | Credits


If you are an educator or administrator in a school district of any size, and you are responsible for meeting the educational needs of students, you will likely have encountered students who use assistive technology.  Although assistive technology has been around for a long time, there has been an increased awareness that assistive technology must be considered in a special education student's IEP, especially since the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ('97).  
Is your school district meeting the assistive technology needs of your students effectively, haphazardly, or not at all?

By working through this WebQuest, you will have a better understanding of what is required by law, how you can develop a team, and equip them to effectively meet the assistive technology needs of your diverse learning population.

Top of Page

The Task   

The activities in this WebQuest involve:

  • researching the legal definition of "assistive technology";
  • identifying federal legislation pertaining to AT;
  • identifying state regulations regarding AT;
  • looking at your district's special education policy and how it relates to AT;
  • completing a self-evaluation on AT competency;
  • identifying areas of need for your district;
  • compiling information from other districts and agencies who provide AT services and create your district's AT Plan ;
  • identifying qualifications of AT team members and ways to increase professional competence;
  • comparing the costs/benefits of different service delivery models for providing AT and how they fit your district's needs;
  • developing a referral procedure, assessment process, and follow-up plan; and putting it all
  •  into motion!


The Process 

As you start the process of determining how your school district will provide assistive technology services, you must first solicit the interest of colleagues who will help you.  Regardless of the size of your district, AT is never a “one-person show.”  It is a multidisciplinary issue requiring the expertise of professionals with specific skills and interests.  Here is where you begin:

1.  Identify people from different specializations within special education (speech pathologists, occupational/physical therapists, classroom teachers of learning disabled/multiply disabled/autism spectrum/etc. students, psychologists, vision and deaf/hard of hearing specialists, etc.) who may already have experience and interest in assistive technology.

2.  Identify people from different specializations outside of special education (reading specialists, teachers for at-risk students, technology coordinators, etc.) who express interest in learning about ways to improve student achievement through technology.

3.  Hold a meeting with the goal of forming a committee who will help you along the rest of this process.  Narrow the group by finding out about people’s availability for continued involvement, commitment to the process, and skills they can bring to the team.

4.  After you have selected a committee, research the following websites for information about AT and the law:

5.  Research your state’s regulations (interpretation of federal law) which pertain to AT.  Use your favorite search engine to search for “state name education code and assistive technology.”  Each state also has an “Office of Public Instruction” which may have the education code.  Note any significant differences in federal and state requirements of school districts.

6.  Look at your school district’s special education policy and procedure manual, if there is one.   Does it address AT? To what extent does it detail provision of assistive technology services (assessment, provision of devices, training, ongoing support)?

7.  Go to the website and download the QIAT Self-Evaluation Matrix.  Have individual members of your committee complete this self-evaluation and then go over your results together.  Identify areas of need in your district where you can make improvements in delivering AT services.  Go to to assist in your self-evaluation.

8.  To discover how your district compares to other districts of like size, go to and type in the number of students or number of schools in your district (in the “additional characteristics” area.  Scroll through the list to find districts that are similar to yours and click on their links.  Compare information until you find three districts that closely match yours for student population, racial diversity, fiscal information, and other characteristics that you feel are important.

9.  Use your favorite search engine again to find those three districts’ websites, and see if you can find any information about assistive technology from the website.  You may have to email or make telephone calls to find the person/people in special education who coordinate AT services.  You may find that districts rely on county agencies or state agencies to provide their AT services.  Find out if your own state has such services on a county or state level, and whether you can access them.  Research what kinds of assistive technology services and equipment these agencies offer, and any other helpful information you can use.  Here are some examples of district/county/agency websites:

10.  Determine whether these county/ state services are adequate in meeting the AT service needs in your district.  If not, secure budgeting to hire AT team members.  Bring all of the researched data to the special education budgeting meeting(s) to validate the necessity for this expense.  Be sure to include budget lines for staff salary, expenses such as mileage, professional development, equipment, etc.   Providing AT is not inexpensive, but it is required by law, and the “local education agency” AKA your school district will be legally liable if it is not provided.  

11.  Determine your service delivery model, based on the number of AT team members you are able to hire, the number of special education students your district serves, and how services are to be delivered.  Contact some of the school districts which rank similar to yours to find out how they deliver AT services.  Consider state and local technology centers which may do evaluations but not direct service with “IEP minutes.”

12.  Research professional development opportunities, including certification for AT practitioners (ATACP certification.)  Look at local universities for AT coursework, summer institutes, etc.  Select a program, seminars, or coursework for your members to attend.

13.  Using your contacts with other school districts’ AT teams, develop a referral procedure, assessment process, and follow-up plan.  Also look at the SETT framework and QIAT “quality indicators” for what is considered by AT professionals to be the “national standard.”

14.  Begin training your team, develop procedures, have the procedures adopted into the district’s special education procedural manual, and then go out and provide outstanding assistive technology services to your diverse learning population.  Don’t forget to continue training others, stay on top of the latest developments in AT equipment and best practices, and advocate at the highest levels for what you have learned to be a required consideration for every student’s IEP.  GOOD LUCK!!

Here are some more great resources to assist in this task:



How have you done in accomplishing your goal of developing an effective service delivery model for assistive technology?  Please rate your team’s progress:










Identify a multidisciplinary team

We have to find out who may be interested.

We have two or three people who may be interested.

We have one person from each special education discipline who is interested in giving input.

We have multiple people from each discipline who has experience in AT.

Understand the law

We know that IDEA says something about AT.

We know that AT is a required consideration in IEPs, but don’t have a way to consider it.

We know AT is a required consideration, but are haphazard about providing it.

We have an effective process by which every student’s IEP is considered for AT.

Research our peer districts for AT services

We have no idea what other districts are doing.

We have started to do some research, but haven’t made contact with other districts.

We have made contact with other districts, and are compiling information.

We have comparative data and are frequently communicating with other districts on their AT service.

Set professional development goals

We have no plans to send anyone to AT training.

We have identified training opportunities, and are looking for funding and people to send.

We have funding set aside for AT training, but not for AT certification.

We have a goal of having all of our AT team AT certified, and are working towards that.

Develop budget and funding strategy

We have no AT budget and don’t know of a way to fund one.

We have an idea of an AT budget and are working at funding strategies.

We have an AT budget and funding strategy, but we could use more money for better service.

We have an adequate budget and administrators who advocate for more funding when needed.


By completing this WebQuest, it is hoped that you will be well on the way to identifying the areas in which your school district needs to improve AT services, and making gains toward meeting your goals.  You will have identified a team, learned about the law, assessed yourselves, researched how AT is being done around the country, and developed a plan to align yourselves with AT best practices.  Assistive technology is an ever-changing field, with new developments in strategies and solutions constantly occurring.  In order to be effective, you must stay current to trends and stay connected with other AT professionals.  This is part of that process-- continue to strive for excellence in AT.

Credits & References

This WebQuest was done as an assignment for Frank Odasz’ online course EDTE 5174 “Making the Best Use of Internet Resources for K-12 Instruction” at Seattle Pacific University.

The graphics for this WebQuest were found on the Microsoft Office ClipArt Library.

Last updated on August 15, 1999. Based on a template from The WebQuest Page