Objective. Despite initiatives promoting research and development, financing, and distribution programs for assistive technology (AT), people with diverse disabilities still experience a critical gap in awareness and acquisition of suitable technology products. The nature of significant barriers to the effective use of AT service delivery has been the subject of considerable speculation, but has not been well researched. There is a lack of scientifically rigorous research on which specific elements of AT service delivery achieve improved employment outcomes with efficient management of costs, and why. Additionally, service providers lack an evidence-based and validated framework to internally examine their own service delivery processes, policies, and practices and assess their effectiveness in generating successful employment and other participation outcomes for consumers.
Main Content. This paper will discuss the conceptualization, development, and testing of quality indicators of AT service delivery that result in successful employment outcomes. This work is being conducted by the Center on Effective Rehabilitation Technology (CERT) service delivery which has used a rigorous mixed methods process to generate quality indicators: (a) thorough literature review to identify core assessment categories, (b) feedback from a diverse panel of stakeholders, (c) results from a baseline survey of AT practice in the United States, and (d) an iterative review and feedback method to generate and rate the quality indicators with a panel of experts. The framework will be further tested and validated through mixed-methods studies with diverse service providers, including employers, throughout the United States.
Results. Indicators of quality have been identified across nine major categories which are: (1) Organizational Governing Structures, (2) Personnel, (3) Consumer Outcomes, (4) Policies and Procedures, (5) Stakeholder Collaboration, (6) Service Delivery Models, (7) Individualized Matching of Person and Technology, (8) Funding, and (9) Quality Control and Evaluation.
Conclusion. An evidence-based framework for identifying the quality of AT service delivery will offer service providers an efficient and important tool to assess the quality of their systems and will work towards bridging gaps to ensure that AT services promote consumers' employment and other participation goals. The quality indicators framework will be customizable for use with different types of service providers such as Vocational Rehabilitation agencies, Independent Living Centers, and employers.