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Improving Assistive Technology including AAC Clinical Practices and Professional Education: Weekly ECHO in AT

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Professionals often report a lack of in-service opportunities in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and assistive technology (AT). To build capacity for AT and AAC services in schools and in order to increase participation of students with disabilities, an innovative model called Project ECHO in Assistive Technology has been adapted from Project ECHO® for medical conditions.
Project ECHO includes a) weekly video tele-conferencing to connect AT experts with professionals in schools across the state, b) sharing evidence-based AT information to reduce variations of AT services across school districts, c) facilitating case-based learning through ongoing consultation and the co-management of student cases with a multidisciplinary specialist team, and d) measuring participant and student outcomes.

Aim: To measure perceived learning by education professionals in rural areas to integrate AAC into services for students with disabilities.

Method: Thirty-nine professionals completed a post-, then pre- assessment of their AAC learning through Project ECHO participation. These results were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively.

Results: Professionals indicated increased mastery (from 18 to 46 percentage points) in AAC areas. Individuals who attended more than 10 sessions showed higher increases. When considering themes from an open-ended question, most participants described gains in knowledge, and more than half expressed increases in their skills. Some described increases in their confidence and/or motivation in providing AT services.

Conclusions: Positive participant comments and learning outcomes suggest that Project ECHO for AT is a useful way to increase AAC knowledge and skills.

Author(s):

Mary Jo Cooley Hidecker    
University of Wyoming
United States

Susan Wagner    
Data Driven Enterprises
United States

Canyon Hardesty    
Wyoming Institute for Disabilities (WIND), University of Wyoming
United States

Sandy Root-Elledge    
Wyoming Institute for Disabilities (WIND), University of Wyoming
United States

 

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