What is a collaborative consultation?
School district personnel may request assistance from the SETC when they feel that a particular student has learning potential that is hindered by a disability-related barrier. The barrier may obstruct the child’s access to classroom activities or interfere with the child’s ability to express what he/she has learned. For example, receptive and expressive communication (verbal and/or written) are very often an issue.
A request is made through a formal application that requires the school district to provide:
- general student information
- classroom and district team information
- the student’s present levels of functioning
- the student’s physical access to technology
- the student’s past exposure to and success with technology
- the student’s communication capabilities and limitations
The district must also provide a 10 to 20 minute video (DVD preferred) showing the student in their typical educational setting(s) and complete a Parental Permission Form. We recommend following our Video Planning Worksheet to help create the video. Specifically, the video should contain the following:
- the student using their typical communication methods
- the student accessing any available technology including switches, communication devices and computers
- educational concerns or adaptations that failed to work
Application packets for collaborative consultation are easily filled out and downloadable from our website. Click the above link to login and start a new application or download a completed one. We recommend filling out the application online, but you can also find the printable application here. It is wise to complete your consultation application promptly because we receive many requests and frequently schedule consultations two to three months in advance. Once the SETC has reviewed your application materials you will be contacted by telephone or e-mail to set a date, format and location for the consultation.
Beginning with applications received in September of 2008 there will be a fee charged for all collaborative consultations conducted by the Special Education Technology Center. This has become necessary due to rising costs and increased demand for our services, contrasted against the static nature of our funding from the federal government. See below for a breakdown of pricing.
Collaborative consultations are available in two formats. As an alternative to a collaborative consultations, telephone consultations are available at no cost. Click on any format title to see a description.
Usually, the SETC team will recommend a certain meeting format based upon the following criteria:
- how much travel is required for a face-to-face meeting?
- what is the staff experience with assistive technology?
- what is the nature and severity of the child’s handicapping condition?
A face-to-face consultation may occur at one of the SETC office sites or at a school district site. School site consultations are essential in those cases when:
- it is difficult to transport the student, and
- the SETC team must meet the child to make sound recommendations
Consultations conducted at the school site have the added benefit of allowing the SETC team to see the child in his/her classroom environment(s). The SETC is able to conduct only a limited number of school-site consultations during the course of a given school year.
A video conference consultation is conducted over the K-20 video-conference network. The advantage to this format is that there is no travel involved for the school team.
A telephone consultation provides specific suggestions to the school team via a telephone conference with one of the SETC staff. Telephone consultations are brief (1 hour or less). Any school team members that wish to attend the telephone consultation are welcome to attend. However, it can be conducted with just the primary contact person, in which case he/she will be responsible for sharing information with the other school team members that work with the student.
Who should attend the consultation?
In a face-to-face or video conference consultation the following school team members should attend if possible:
- the student’s parents and/or guardians
- the student, at the request of the SETC or, if the student is 14 years or older and capable of contributing to the collaboration process
- special education teacher and regular education teachers who have contact with the student
- therapists and therapist’s aides
- classroom paraprofessional aide
- administrators (special education director or coordinator, building principal)
- other professionals who deliver education related services to the student
The consultation process
The consultation process involves:
- examination of the educational goals for the student and the barriers which he/she and school personnel encounter in their efforts to pursue those goals
- exploration of possible technology solutions which may include hardware, software, implementation strategies and even some low-tech or no-tech options!
- discussion of the merits of each option presented and the development of a plan for borrowing the technology to try out in the educational setting.
A consultation typically follows this routine:
- roundtable discussion of how the school team members and parents/guardians envision the student in 5 years
- viewing of student video and discussion of student’s needs and abilities
- presentation of technology solutions (switches, communication devices, computer hardware and software)
- presentation of strategies which can be used with the technology
- review the merits of the technology and strategies
- develop a plan for the school team to borrow and try out the technology in the school setting
- discussion of follow-up opportunities for additional support from the SETC team
Consultation product and follow-up
A consultation is not a technology evaluation, but rather, an opportunity for discussion and brainstorming that should lead to appropriate technology planning for a student. This process does not result in any definite prescription nor does the process provide a letter of justification required for Medicaid funding. No formal report follows the consultation. The school team is encouraged to take notes during the consultation and they may obtain a copy of the SETC team notes upon request. Video taping may be an option. If so desired, please inquire at least one week prior to the consultation date.
Your district has the option to video or audio-record the consultation but must furnish the equipment and personnel to do so. Please notify SETC staff ahead of time if you choose this recording option.
Follow-up guidance is provided in the form of post-consultation support materials delivered at the meeting or e-mailed following the meeting. Furthermore, a SETC team member will initiate a follow-up contact (telephone call or e-mail) approximately one month following the consultation to determine if you require additional assistance. SETC team members may be contacted by e-mail or telephone for additional support at any time.
The outcome of the consultation depends ultimately upon the school team and their efforts to try out the various technology and/or strategies suggested and then to select the most suitable solution(s). SETC team members are always available for e-mail or phone support. We also offer free webinars and host a public AT discussion forum.