An Introduction to the Assessment Process
At Inclusive Solutions, we understand that our clients and their families have to cope with much more than most people do. Learning about the diagnosis that they have and the implications for their lives can be overwhelming. We provide technology to help our clients to still live as full a life as possible through the power of communication, understanding their sensory needs and having some control in their own lives.
However we know that when faced with all the options that are available to enable a person to communicate or to meet their sensory needs or to control their computers and their homes; it is not always easy for our clients and their professional teams to know what features best match the needs of the end user. That is why we provide a functional assessment, also known as a product trial.
An assessment is designed to understand what abilities the client currently has as well as what their needs are. If a person cannot speak then it is obvious that the person requires a communication solution because that need is apparent. If the person cannot speak and cannot use their hands to control a computer either by way of touch or operating a mouse or a keyboard; then we know that the person also needs to have the right tool to help him/her to access the communication on his computer.
That sounds easy enough to find a solution. But people are different and they can experience other complications such as visual difficulties, or language processing difficulties or motor planning difficulties to name a few. In an assessment we aim to understand how the complexity of the client’s barriers impacts their primary need which could be communication or access to a computer or coping with sensory processing challenges.
Our pre-assessment questionnaire is designed to gather as much information as possible from the client and/or their primary care-giver and/or their professional team. It is helpful when we have input from the different members of the team as it provides a better understanding of the overall needs that the client has. .
From the information received in a pre-assessment questionnaire we are then able to customise each assessment to the client’s strengths while making accommodations for their challenges. This aspect of an assessment is valuable to our clients because while they experience success in their ability to use a product to meet their needs, their support team can observe how accommodations can be made for the areas that the client may finds challenging.
For example if we notice that a person has visual processing difficulties then during the assessment, we can change the colour contrasts of the interface to make it easier for the client to process this visually.
This is an image of a High Contrast communication board. The symbols are in bold, bright colours on a black background. This is much easier to see for some people.
During the assessment we also have to consider what impact the clients’ diagnosis will have on them in the future. It is often difficult for our clients and their support teams to address it but knowing if a person has a regressive condition is helpful in guiding the assessment process. The client can trial a range of products to meet his needs for the present time as well as to meet the needs he may have in the future.
This information is empowering to our clients as they realise that they have options and they have the necessary information for their financial planning. An assessment helps them to decide whether they want to purchase a tool that will help to meet their immediate needs and then purchase another tool for when they lose their current ability. Or whether they want to purchase the tool that might be more expensive now, but will meet all their current and future needs as they lose their abilities.
We also find that the assessment process is valuable to the therapists and educators who support children who will require an alternative or augmentative communication system or who require supports for their sensory needs or who need a way to access the computer. Families together with their professional team are able to make better and more informed decisions about what technology to purchase, what needs they are trying to meet for the learner, who will support the learner, and what to expect in his or her future.
In the subsequent articles, we will be dealing with the various aspects of the assessment process in more detail. We hope to help you have a better understanding of why an assessment with an experienced assistive technology advisor who knows the range of options available to best meet your needs or your client’s needs, is important. This is a necessary step when deciding what technology will give a person with little or no functional speech the gift of communication; or in knowing how to meet a person’s sensory processing needs or what options are available for a person with a physical disability to control their computer and elements in their homes.
We provide free assessments, so please get in touch if you would like to trial any of our technologies. We also offer a clinic service where we will assist your clinical or educational team to assess individuals. Please contact us for more information.
We may recommend using a computer with a large screen. This is an image of a large computer screen showing the desktop icons. They are easier to see and also easier to touch than a very small screen.