DART2 Workshop 1: Assessment for Assistive Technology

Thanks to Margaret McKay, Inclusion Advisor at Jisc RSC Scotland, for this report on what happened at the first DART2 workshop in Scotland on February 7th 2013 at the College Development Network, which looked at assessment for assistive technology.

Assessment

Selection of hardware at the Dart2 workshopThe first sessions were presented by Rohan Slaughter (Head of Technology at Beaumont College) and Mike Thrussell (Assistive Technology Coordinator at Henshaws College).

They spoke about the importance of assessment, highlighting the skills and knowledge required by assessors and the importance of working in partnership with other stakeholders (the learner, family, carers, health professionals and relevant others).

Margaret McKay of Jisc RSC Scotland highlighted theoretical perspectives that underpin the assessment process, and the importance of placing the student at the centre of the process in order to find the best fit between the learner and their environment.

Assistive Technology Hardware and Software

Subsequent sessions introduced assistive technology hardware including ‘baked in’ features of technology that are often forgotten about. Software solutions incorporating commercial, free/open source and also website solutions.

Access YouTube interfaceIn particular, delegates learned about Access: YouTube, which was developed by Mike Thrussell. This accessible version of YouTube was funded by Jisc through Jisc Advance. It allows people with learning difficulties and disabilities to use this mainstream technology independently.  Described by the North East Autism Society as ‘minimalistic, clean and allows a learner with additional support needs to increase their independence whilst accessing a form of media which appeals to them.’

Fil McIntyre, an Assistive Technologist at the BRITE Initiative, provided delegates with an overview of the wide range of services offered by BRITE, in particular the SQA accredited courses and the range of training/consultancy options on offer.  He also provided insights into the BRITE Equipment Loan Bank.

Case studies

The first case study presented by Mike Thrussell highlighted the role of the Assistive Technologist at Henshaws College and the assessment process for learners who are contemplating coming to the college – either on a day-to-day basis or as a residential student.

The second case study documented the journey undertaken by Runshaws General FE College who received deep support during the first DART1 initiative. This session included a short video presentation from Richard Maclachlan who was employed an Assistive Technologist as a result of the DART initiative.

Mark Ross of the University of the Highlands and Islands presented the final case study.  He spoke the collaborative journey that the UHI has undertaken as a verified assessment centre for DSA to provide the option (where appropriate) to assess students via Video Conference.  This option aims to ensure that students located throughout the UHI network have equal access to this user-friendly service in the student’s own locality.

Next DART2 Training Event

The next DART2 event ‘Developing an Assistive Technology Role’ takes place on Tuesday 30th April at the College Development Network. This will be of interest to managers who may want to know more about the Assistive Technologist role and also for practitioners who are in this role but wish to develop it.

Image of hardware displayed at the workshop courtesy of Sandy MacLean, College Development Network

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