Selecting Assistive Technology

Before selecting a particular assistive technology (AT) tool, the student’s education team must first consider the student’s unique needs and learning environment, including how and when the supports will be used.

S-Student E-Environment T-Task T-ToolThe SETT framework, created by Dr. Joy Zabala, is widely used in the education field for making collaborative, informed decisions about selecting AT. SETT, which stands for Student, Environment, Task, and Tool, lays out a specific plan to find solutions that will level the playing field for students with learning disabilities.

The SETT framework should be used whenever the right tool for the right student needs to be determined. Potential mistakes happen when a tool is chosen because it happens to be easily accessible. If a student is provided with a tablet because it is available, but not actually the right tool for the task the student needs to accomplish, this can potentially lead to frustration and missed learning opportunities.

In addition to using the SETT framework, the tools chosen must “support achievement of goals and progress in the general curriculum,” according to Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology. Each tool must take into consideration the unique needs of the student, and the results of using the AT device must be measurable and observable.

More information can be found in the video below, and in the article Assistive Technology Overview for Parents of Students with Learning Disabilities, by Wilson Senior Educational Technologist Nanci Shepardson.