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Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology

in Post-Secondary Education (QIAT-PS)

By:  Russ Holland, Bryan Ayres, Janet Peters & Dawn Wilkinson

The QIAT Consortium is a grass roots effort that has been working for over 10 years to create benchmarks for assistive technology service provision in public K-12 education. This effort has generated some remarkable work, including a conceptual framework of quality provision of assistive technology services that is well respected, validated and used by school assistive technology teams, administrators, districts, and states to improve services for students with disabilities. One of the categories of the Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology (QIAT) is Transition, which deals with the factors related to assistive technology that require attention any time a student changes environments, for example, when moving from elementary to middle school.

The Need
One of the greatest changes in environment, however, is the transition from public school to post-secondary education [See Bowser, G. (2009) Transition Planning + Self Determination = AT for Independence. Closing the Gap, 28(4)]. Not only is college a drastically different environment with different teaching styles, student expectations, and often living arrangements, but also the rules change. While IDEA is an entitlement law that guarantees similar rights and procedures for all K-12 students, post-secondary education does not fall under this law. Instead, the relevant laws in college are the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act which are at heart civil rights laws. Students with disabilities in college are basically dealing with an eligibility law that is based on self-disclosure and driven by self-advocacy.
Often in the high school setting, parents, special education and general education teachers, and other school personnel work together to ensure that accommodations and assistive technology are in place. In college, however, students need to advocate for themselves. Independent decision making, strong communication skills, and the ability to understand one’s disability and one’s rights and responsibilities under a different set of laws directly contribute to success in the post-secondary environment.

Developing QIAT-PS
Building on the success and impact of the QIAT process in the K-12 world, some of us within the QIAT Leadership consortium recognized a need to facilitate the consideration of a “QIAT-like” model of indicators that could support success in post-secondary education. QIAT-PS is the result of these efforts.
The development of the QIAT-PS indicators has been an open-source collaboration with hundreds of professionals participating. An extensive literature review was conducted, and face to face presentations and collaborative input sessions took place at several national conferences. A survey was developed and distributed nationwide to former students with assistive technology needs in post-secondary settings and students with current assistive technology needs. The results indicated that in addition to the need for post-secondary schools to improve their service delivery, the student bears a high level of responsibility for the quality and effectiveness of the integration of assistive technology in higher education settings. Therefore QIAT-PS added a ninth set of indicators called Self-Advocacy and Self-Determination.

The Product
Two major documents have emerged from this work. The QIAT-PS Student Guidelines are intended to serve as a tool for students and families as they consider the transition from high school to the college environment. The Student Guidelines should also help those working in the college environment guide prospective students who are considering the transition. The seven Student Guidelines are organized by 1) a quality indicator; 2) questions students should ask themselves to see if they meet the indicator; and 3) other tasks that relate to the specific indicator.
The QIAT-PS College Guidelines are intended as a tool for college personnel as they develop, articulate and implement policies and procedures that contribute to the successful transition and inclusion of students with disabilities in all areas of college life. These guidelines correspond and are complementary to the Student Guidelines.
The summary table on the next page highlights the relationship between the Student Guidelines and the College Guidelines. The seven quality indicators are the same for both, but the questions that need to be asked by students and those that need to be addressed by college personnel differ. To see the complete QIAT-PS Student Guidelines and
QIAT-PS College Guidelines, visit

Next Steps
Open source work on all categories of QIAT indicators and guidelines is ongoing. All are invited to contribute on the wiki at and the website

Author Affiliations:
Bryan Ayres, Southwest ADA Center DBTAC
Janet Peters, Great Lakes ADA Center
Russ Holland, Adirondack AccessAbility
Dawn Wilkinson, Southwest ADA Center DBTAC
Project funded by:
Southwest & Great Lakes DBTACs


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