What is an Assistive Technology Professional?

RESNA certifies Assistive Technology Professionals (ATP) on a national level. RESNA

Question: What is an Assistive Technology Professional?

Answer:

An Assistive Technology Professional is a service provider who analyzes the technology needs of consumers with disabilities and helps users select and use adaptive devices. ATPs work with clients of all ages with every type of cognitive, physical, and sensory disability. The solutions provided, whether low- or high-tech, are usually designed to enhance communication, mobility, and access to computers and educational materials.

The initials "ATP" refer to one who has earned national certification from the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA), a professional organization that promotes the health and well-being of persons with disabilities through technology.

Q. What value does RESNA certification provide to professionals and their clients?
Certification validates an individual's qualifications and knowledge in a defined functional or clinical area and ensures professionals attain a common level of competence in helping persons with disabilities use technology more effectively. Certification promotes quality assurance for consumers and pride among practitioners.

Many employers now require ATP certification and pay more to professionals who earn it. An ATP can practice in any state, so long as they maintain certification professional development -- essential in such a rapidly changing industry.

Q. What types of professionals seek RESNA certification?
Professions that can benefit from ATP certification include: special education, rehabilitation engineering, physical and occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, healthcare providers (e.g. mobility solutions), and media companies seeking to ensure content accessibility.

Q. What are the RESNA ATP eligibility requirements?
RESNA ATP certification requires passing an exam. To take the exam, a candidate must meet an education requirement (which sometimes includes AT-specific coursework) and a corresponding number of work hours in a relevant field. Eligibility is achieved meeting any one of the following combinations:

  • Master's degree or higher in Special Education or Rehabilitation Science + 1,000 of work in 6 years
  • Bachelor's degree in Special Education or Rehabilitation Science + 1,500 hours of work in 6 years
  • Bachelor's degree in a Non-Rehab Science with 10 hours of AT related training + 2,000 hours of work in 6 years
  • Associates degree in Rehab Science + 3,000 hours of work in 6 years
  • Associates degree in Non-Rehab Science with 20 hours of AT related training + 4,000 hours of work in 6 years
  • High school diploma or GED with 30 hours of AT related training + 6,000 hours of work in 10 years.

Notes : Rehab Science includes: medicine, nursing, low vision rehabilitation, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, audiology, vocational rehabilitation, engineering (biomedical, clinical, or rehabilitation), prosthetics & orthotics, recreation therapy, and rehabilitation technology.

Half of the AT credit hours must be IACET or University approved Continuing Education Units (CEUs).

Q. What knowledge areas does ATP certification encompass?
ATP is a generalist certification covering a broad range of assistive technology, including:

  • Seating and Mobility
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
  • Cognitive aids
  • Computer access
  • Electronic Aids to Daily Living (EADL)
  • Sensory
  • Recreation
  • Environmental modification
  • Accessible transportation (public and private)
  • Technology for learning disabilities.

RESNA ATP certification is vast enough that people often specialize in one area, though applicants still must demonstrate knowledge in all areas.

Q. What does the RESNA ATP certification exam entail?

The ATP certification exam is a five-part, 200 question multiple choice test that covers all aspects of assistive technology practice.

The exam requires an application and $500 fee. RESNA membership is not required. The exam usually takes 5 and 1/2 hours (without breaks) and is administered at a Prometric Testing Center. The five sections include:

  1. Assessments of need (27%): Including interviewing consumers, records review, environmental factors and functional abilities assessments, goal setting, and future needs
  2. Development of Intervention Strategies -- Action Plan (34%): Including defining intervention strategies; identifying appropriate products, training needs, and environmental issues; assist consumers' decision making, and documentation
  3. Implementation of Intervention (Once Funded) (26%): Including reviewing and placing orders, training consumer and others (e.g., family, care providers, educators) in device setup and operation, and progress documentation
  4. Evaluation of Intervention (Follow-up ) (10%): Qualitative and quantitative outcomes measurement, reassessment, and repair issues, if necessary
  5. Professional Conduct (3%): RESNA's Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

Applicants can take the exam as often as they wish, though a 90-day waiting period must precede a retake. The exam fee is reduced to $250 if retaken within a year.

Q. How is ATp certification renewed?
RESNA ATP certification has a two-year renewal cycle and require that 25% of work be dedicated to consumer-related assistive technology services and completion of 20 hours of approved AT topic training.

Contact RESNA for more information and training resources for its Assistive Technology Professional certification programs.