Lifespace Access Profile-Assistive Technology Assessment and Planning for Individuals with Severe or Multiple Disabilities.


  • Margaret N. Deavours


We have all been in the position of having to administer an assessment to a client with severe/multiple disabilities. How many of us can honestly say that we accurately assessed the leisure needs ofthat client? How many of us felt that the client wascognitively capable of achieving more, but due to physical limitations we were unable to ascertain those abilities? Or, after completing the assessment we remained uncertain about what the client could understand and do. Lifespace Access Profile attempts to help the treatment or educational team address these and other issues, with special attention given to technology access. Lifespace Access Profile is an evaluation instrument designed to address the most basic needs ofpeople with severe disabilities. The Profile is based on the assumption that to access the cognitive abilities of a person with severe impairment, we must give him or her an avenue through which expression can occur; at a minimum, basic ways ofsaying yes and no. The primary goal is to provide a means of technology access, beginning with switches and expanding to meet the needs of the individual. Areas of assessment include physical, cognitive, emotional, support, and environmental resources. The instrument is organized in a three-ring binder and contains specific chapters on choosing the assessment team, gathering information in each of the assessment areas, preparing a summary report, and developing resource priorities. The authors encourage a team approach to assessment, with no single member's input considered more valuable than another's. In addition to traditional treatment team members, the authors recommend the involvement of parents, caregivers, and any other persons significant in the client's life. Team members are asked to rate the client from 0-10 (0 being lowest) across a variety of behaviors and abilities in each ofthe assessment areas listed above. In each area two scales, one for participation and one for technology use, are used. Example questions include, "How often is the person actively involved in the community?," and "How often is assistive technology used?" Each team member contributes to every section, therefore accounting for behaviors and skills that may be present in one setting but not another. A low number indicates a relative weakness or absence of a behavior; a high number indicates a relative strength or presence ofa behavior. Except for certain fixed conditions (e.g., physical disability that will not change such as deafness or blindness), it is expected that these ratings will change from year to year, moving-even if ever so slowly-toward higher numbers. The completed Profile is a client-centered, team-based collection of observations that can compliment a comprehensive program by utilizing technology. Information gained through the completion ofthe Profile helps team members systematically and cooperatively assess life skills, and determine individual technology needs. Upon completion of the Profile, the team coordinator organizes the information in a summary report. This information is also displayed in a graph format, thus enabling quick reference to specific areas ofweakness or strength. The entire instrument is eleven pages and requires about thirty minutes per team member to complete. The assessment process is easy to grasp, and the Profile becomes easier to use with practice. Because each team membercan complete the instrument individually, the results can be compiled in a timely manner. The completed Profile provides an excellent foundation on which to formulate treatment or individual education plans. By addressing the technology needs ofindividuals with severe disabilities first, a more accurate picture of their needs and interests is gained. Lifespace Access Profile sells for $49.95 and includes detailed instructions for the Profile and ten copies of the assessment. Additional assessments and summary reports can be purchased for $10.00/10 pack. Lifespace also offers a purchasing program providing a centralized opportunity to buy technology equipment and materials from a variety ofvendors. Additional information may be obtained from Lifespace Access, P.O. Box 2355 Sebastopol, CA. 95473-2355, (707) 829-9654.



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