Minnesota's Assistive Technology Act Program
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Information & Referral

What is Assistive Technology (AT)?

These definitions also appear in the Tech Act Legislation (P.L.100-407) which has been adopted in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

IDEA defines an assistive technology device as:

...any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. [20 U.S.C. Chapter 33, Section 1401 (25)].

This definition is broad and includes a range of devices from low technology to high technology items as well as software.

Under IDEA the legal definition of assistive technology services is:

...any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. [20 U.S.C. Chapter 33, Section 1401 (26)]

Specifically, assistive technology services include:

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Information and Referral Links

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Assistive Technology Specialist Website Information

Minnesota has skilled Assistive Technology (AT) Specialists, but they can be difficult to find because there is no one credential that assures competence, no specific professional degree to look for, and no registry of AT Specialists to help consumers, service providers, and payers. A task force facilitated by the STAR Program developed the following guide to assist in the selection of an AT Specialist.

STAR does not endorse or recommend any particular individual or agency. The posting of this information to STAR's website does not imply endorsement by STAR's funders, the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research nor the State of Minnesota. This information is educational in nature. Let the buyer beware.

There are no generalists in AT service delivery. Service providers specialize in one or two areas that are generally related. Selection of an AT Specialist should be guided by the identified need of the person with a disability.

Skills expected of an AT Specialist within their specialization(s):

Specialty Areas

(Note: switch access was determined to be a component of several of the above categories).

Footnote #1: Orthotists and Prosthetists have stringent requirements for practice and reimbursement. For additional information on their qualifications and quality assurance, go to Global Resource for Orthotics & Prosthetics Information.

Demonstrable/Objective Criteria

CriteriaExampleEvidence
Professional Degree:
OT, PT, SLP, Teacher, Rehab Engineer, ORC, CRC, CVE
College degree from AT related area (Health Care & Human Services)Course descriptions / transcripts / degree
Associate Degree:
COTA, PTA, Electronics Tech, Orthotics Tech
Degree from AT related area (Health Care & Human Services)Course descriptions / transcripts / degree
Practice:
Work under supervision, Work with a team, Work with credentialed people in AT-related area
Working titlePosition description, Letter of support, Performance Review, Names & credentials of team members, Name & AT-related credential of direct supervisor
Formal Training:
Established AT curriculum, May be a structured on-the-job training program.
Certificates from training / technical courses; Credentialing based on formal course work: RIATT, ATP/ATS, RESNA AT course, CSUN AT CourseCourse description / objectives & instructor qualifications and credential; certificate; documentation of qualifications of onsite trainer, mentor, direct supervisor
Continuing Education:
AT related workshops, independent study, teleconferences, research, conferences, etc., Trained by manufacturer, Self-directed learning with practical application, Vendor inservice
AT Conferences such as CSUN, CTG, RESNA, USAAC, ISAAC, ASHA, RIATT, etc., AOTA's Self-study Course on ATDocumentation required, Must be verifiable with written proof of participation

Based on the degree of risk for harm – physical, financial, limitation of potential function due to error, etc. the AT Specialist Task Force divided the service areas in to high risk and moderate risk areas and made recommendations for experience/training for each category.

High Risk

Rating of the categories of AT Service by the group found that high risk for harm categories were:

Recommendations for a minimum standard/guide for being an entry-level AT Specialist in these High Risk areas are:

Directly supervised practice is defined as full-time work with hands on experience in application of AT with the person and the equipment under the direct supervision of an experienced AT-related degreed professional or within the context of a team.

Moderate Risk

Categories identified as some or moderate risk are:

Recommendations:

Mentored practice is full-time practice that involves hands on experience in application of Assistive Technology with the person and the equipment with mentoring by a person with expertise in the area.

Continuing Education for High and Moderate Risk

Recommended annual continuing education once meeting the basic criteria of AT Specialist is 20 hours in each specialty area of practice.

Sample questions one might ask an assistive technology practitioner:

  1. What is your experience and training? (See grid of demonstratable / objective criteria for guidance.)
  2. What categories of assistive technology do you know well? (see listings of skills and categories of AT.)
  3. Are your services reimbursable and by whom?
  4. What is involved in your AT assessment/evaluation process?
  5. May I see a sample of a letter of medical necessity that you have written?
  6. If the AT you recommend is denied, will you work with me through the appeal process?

Disclaimer

STAR and the AT Specialist Task Force encourage consumers to be wise purchasers of service.

STAR does not endorse or recommend any particular individual or agency. The posting of this information to STAR's website does not imply endorsement by STAR's funders, the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research, nor the State of Minnesota. This information is educational in nature.

 

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