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Course Overview

AT for Sensory and/or Complex Needs

January 8, 2024 - May 4, 2024

This on-line course uses the Assistive Technology Internet Modules (ATIM: to provide participants with information about assistive technology assessment and implementation for students specifically with complex communication and learning needs, as well as sensory challenges (eg. deaf, hearing impairment, blind, visual impairments, deaf/blind).

  • Registration Instructions
  • Course registration is a two-step process: 1) Register on ATIM and 2) Register and pay on Ashland University's system. Once you have completed this two-step process, this course will be available to you on ATIM at the start of the semester, January 8, 2024.

    If you have questions about this course or the registration process, please contact the course instructor, Rachel Schultz at
  • Registration Details
  • Course registration open December 18, 2023 - April 5, 2024
  • 1-Credit course costs $225 paid to Ashland University
Course Modules

An Overview of Using the WATI AT Assessment Process

Estimated Time to Complete: 2 hours

Hundreds of schools across the nation use a process that was developed by the Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative (WATI) to support AT consideration and assessment. This module provides an overview of the WATI assistive technology consideration, assessment and planning process. It also provides step-by-step directions for using the WATI process and forms to determine student AT needs and plan for successful implementation of selected AT devices and services. 

Students With Complex Needs - WATI - Part I

Estimated Time to Complete: 1 1/2 hours

This module is written in a similar format as the other WATI assessment process modules. However, through experience the authors have found that when assessing the need for assistive technology of students with complex needs, the adults around them need to spend more time asking the right questions about how their students are affected by their multiple disabilities and how their environment needs to be engineered to meet their unique needs. For example, the meaning of their limited movements are sometimes subtle and can be missed without careful observation.

This module uses the format of the AT Decision-Making Process to present questions that will help develop an understanding of the student and his or her environment. Instead of a continuum of tools, the module provides a tool belt of resources to help answer questions for which answers are still lacking. Subsequently, use the WATI assessment process modules to identify tasks and tools. This module is the first of two parts. The second part, AT for Students With Complex Needs - WATI, focuses on communication supports, essential elements for successful use of AT, and active involvement in school settings.

Students With Complex Needs - WATI - Part II

Estimated Time to Complete: 2 hours

This module presents a growth model that embraces and supports the unique characteristics of students with complex needs. It will provide the reader with examples of how adults and peers can engineer the environment for rich and meaningful communication interactions and improve access to the regular curriculum.

Communication - WATI - Part I

Estimated Time to Complete: 2 hours

This module will assist teams in using the WATI Assistive Technology Decision-Making Guide for Communication. As the team looks at a student with complex communication needs (CCNs), it is important to gather information that will assist in the decision-making process to meet the student's communication needs.

This module uses the following three questions to gather student-centered information for that purpose: What are the student's abilities and difficulties associated with communication? What environmental considerations impact the student's communication? What communication task(s) does the student need to successfully accomplish? The answers to these questions will guide the team in making decisions about selecting appropriate communication systems based on a feature-match process, facilitating the student's communication needs across environments, and supporting the various communication tasks the student with CCNs has to perform.

Communication - WATI - Part II

Estimated Time to Complete: 2 hours

Caregivers, teachers and speech language pathologists must be reminded that augmentative and alternative (AAC) systems are only tools. The team must keep in mind the motto that to do a job right you need the right tools.  This typically requires a toolbox with different tools that might be needed to complete the job.  The same notion should be considered for a student with complex communication needs (CCNs) when determining what AAC tools are needed for the communication job. 

Selection of any AAC system(s) must be based on the student's abilities and difficulties, as well as the environments and the communication tasks involved.  In this module, a feature match approach will be presented looking at the continuum of AAC systems, from low- and mid- to high-tech communication systems, to determine which communication tools best meet the student's abilities, environments and communication needs.  After the feature match process, the team will brainstorm and develop a device trial implementation plan to identify and, finally, select appropriate AAC tools.  Trials should include data collection to evaluate the effectives of the devices being considered.  The module concludes with information about funding the selected communication system. 

Communication - WATI - Part III

Estimated Time to Complete: 2 1/2 hours

This module moves beyond the AT decision-making process for the selection of AAC systems and tools for students with complex communication needs (CCNs) to address implementation of those systems and tools. Specific communication partner strategies to facilitate use of the recommended system will be discussed. The module will also review strategies for vocabulary selection, rate enhancement, color-coding and communication opportunities to support literacy and communication development.

Hearing - WATI - Part I

Estimated Time to Complete: 1 1/2 hours

The goal of this module is to increase awareness of the challenges facing students who are deaf or hard of hearing to access auditory information to the same extent as their peers. Teams need to be knowledgeable about how a given student uses his or her residual hearing, communicates, is affected by diverse environments, and benefits from technology. This module will define each of these factors and give clear directions to describe the student's status in the first three areas of the WATI AT Decision-Making Guide: student abilities and difficulties, environmental considerations and tasks. This is part I in a two-part series. Part II will address AT tools for hearing.

Hearing - WATI - Part II

Estimated Time to Complete: 1 1/2 hours

Welcome to Hearing - WATI - Part II. Hearing - WATI - Part I addressed the challenges facing students who are deaf or hard of hearing when accessing auditory information at school, including students' abilities and difficulties, environmental considerations, and tasks. The goal of the current module is to identify assistive technology tools for students who are deaf or hard of hearing that can provide access to auditory information in a variety of environments. These technologies improve accessibility to information that most people gain through their hearing. The module will describe these technologies and give general recommendations for selecting technology, implementing technology, and assessing the benefits.

Vision - WATI - Part I

Estimated Time to Complete: 1 hour

This module discusses elements essential to the assistive technology (AT) selection process. Most students with visual impairments require individually selected AT solutions that match their educational needs. Such solutions should match their abilities, preferences and the social context where they are to be used.

Vision - WATI - Part II

Estimated Time to Complete: 2 hours

This module describes the last four components of the WATI AT Decision-Making Guide, including solution generation, solution selection, implementation planning, and follow-up.  Then, AT tools are listed according to the most effective modality a student with visual impairment would use for accessing information, reading, and writing.  Tools and strategies for academic areas are described as well.

Vision - WATI - Part III

Estimated Time to Complete: 1 1/2 hours

This module discusses assistive technology (AT) tools and strategies for the Expanded Core Curriculum. In addition to academic areas, learners with visual impairments may be in need of structured instructions in braille, daily living skills, leisure and sports or AT. In most cases, teachers who provide direct services to these learners will need specialized tools to prepare or adapt the necessary teaching and learning tools.

AT for Sensory and/or Complex Needs Course Post-Assessment

Post-assessment for AT for Sensory and/or Complex Needs course.