"We are using new Macs and ichat to share the desktop with some of our long-distant students remotely to do speech services." an AT specialist shared at the advisory board meeting for OTAP. "We are working with a speech pathologist in Bellingham, WA that is working with several students this way. He even has some friends that are in Kenya that have a child he works with to help with stuttering."
This was one of several great topics of discussion at our state advisory meeting for OTAP (Oregon Technology Access Program) yesterday. I was surprised to hear of more remote service access solutions that were being used for long distance services. Since many of us at the meeting represented assistive technology support specialists that cover wide territories, the discussion came up about fuel costs and how we can manage the budget and provided services.
There are some hardware and set up tasks that can't be done remotely. In those cases, the travel is still an essential. Remote "telepractice" sessions were suggested as a cost-saver for situations where specialists would have to travel several hours twice a month to contact students, and the content works well to transfer online. Face to face contact would still happen, but not on every visit.
The discussion moved to the trend of Charter schools that are online schools. One specialist that has a high school daughter who because of illness is in a distance ed program online at home, shared that she is getting more support from the way the program is outlined, online support, email, e text, etc. Books and E text CD's are shipped to the home ahead of time. The drawback is that the student has to be motivated to work on their own.
It is evident that soaring gas costs will continue to have an effect on the discussion of services, how much travel is reimbursed to specialists. That translates to a changing look in how students receive special services.
A study was shared that evaluated telepractice services to two groups, adult stroke victims receiving OT and children in school receiving speech. Customer satisfaction in general was high, with a positive indication that goals were met successfully. The one criticism was in the speech service delivery. Families missed the one-on-one contact and felt it had a negative effect on the medium for delivery.
The consideration of these options are not going to go away. How service delivery adapts and how it impacts everyone is yet to be seen.
All the best to you!