The aim of the ATTAINS (Assistive Technology Training Assisting Independent Success) Programme is to introduce students to assistive technology techniques to support independent learning. Working with post primary schools in Waterford, this evidence-based programme targets students with specific learning disabilities (SpLD). Training can also be provided to educators adopting a train-the-trainer approach.
- Promote usage and build competency in using Assistive Technology to support independent learning and academic performance.
- Overcome barriers within students’ learning environment by using free assistive technology to support home/schoolwork and study.
- Enable a smoother transition to higher education amongst students with learning disabilities.
- Introducing Senior Cycle students to AT Supports available in higher education.
- Preparation for state examinations for students awarded the accommodation of the Exam Reader Pen.
The programme is delivered during or after school hours by the ATTAINS Co-Ordinator in collaboration with school staff. Students are selected to participate by the school SENCO team. Students with a diagnosed SpLD or those identified by the school as having additional learning needs without an official diagnosis are invited to participate. The programme runs over 6 weeks and each session lasts from one class up to one hour. Programme content is tailored to each schools/students’ requirements and built around the school learning platform.
- From one initial pilot school in 2019-20 the ATTAINS is now delivered in seven schools annually and over 450 students have participated.
- Due to the demonstrable benefits of the programme, it has extended to target additional student cohorts – EAL Students, as well as broadened to target all students as part of a universal design approach.
- Some schools have embedded the programme within the curriculum and some school and community partners have committed to embed the AT training into teaching practices.
Majella McCarthy, Enabling Transitions Project Co-Ordinator