The Mission of the Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative is to assist school districts and Birth to 3 programs in their responsibility to ensure that every child in Wisconsin who may need assistive technology (AT) has equal and timely access to appropriate assessment and the provision and implementation of needed AT devices and services. The goal is to improve the outcomes and results for children with disabilities birth to 21 through the use of assistive technology to access services, curriculum, and school and community activities. The project increases the capacity of early intervention agencies, school districts, and their partners to provide assistive technology by making training and technical assistance available throughout Wisconsin.
Design of the Initiative
The Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative (WATI) began in the fall of 1993 in response to requests from numerous school districts to provide statewide leadership and technical assistance to help them implement the AT requirements in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Initiative is designed to provide not only training but also specific strategies to increase the capacity of school districts to provide assistive technology services. These include model forms, suggested procedures, resource materials and access to assistive technology for trial use. In addition to school districts, WATI services are also available to early intervention and early education providers. The activities of the Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative are grouped into four major components: provision of regional and local training; local technical assistance; increased access to resources; and development of a collegial support and technical assistance network of individuals across the state.
The Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative has both state level services and regional services in each of the 12 Cooperative Education Service Agencies (CESAs). The state level has a Lending Library of assistive technology items that is open to all school districts and Birth to 3 programs throughout the state. Additional activities carried out at the state level include providing support and leadership to the twelve regional consultants, providing specialized competency-based training, developing new resource guides or other materials for use by school personnel and parents, and arranging special buys of assistive technology products at reduced prices.
In each CESA the Assistive Technology Consultant works with staff from the constituent school districts to help them develop and improve their AT services. The AT Consultants in each CESA provide training, technical assistance and support to all who are striving to increase their capacity to provide effective, efficient AT services. They also have smaller lending libraries of AT available to their school districts and Birth to 3 programs.
The funding for this state-wide project was discontinued at the end of the 2008-2009 school year. WATI currently is a voluntary network of AT consultants who collaborate to provide trainings, supports, maintain and update the WATI archives.