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Technical Report - History of Assistive Technology Outcomes (Version 1.0)

Roger O. Smith, PhD, OT, Kathy Longenecker Rust, MS, OTR, April Lauer, BS, OTS & Erin Boodey, BS, OTS


Rationale for field scan

The purpose of this field scan was to place assistive technology outcomes measurement in the context of time. We understood that AT outcomes measurement activity has been a relatively new phenomenon. It seemed that publications and services discussions have only occurred in the past decade or so. We also saw that measuring the outcomes of assistive technology has become a significant concern for AT practitioners and the research community. This field scan reviews the literature from an historical perspective and summarizes major events related to AT and AT outcomes.

Description of scope of scan

This field scan reviews publications from the last thirty years. The resulting chronology lists significant events that have either precipitated AT outcomes work or contributed directly as an AT outcomes publication. The chronology includes years, descriptions, significance, and references. Then we divide the events into two groups: 1) outcomes predecessors and 2) outcomes focus. We then categorize the service delivery contexts of these publications by: a) medical, b) educational, c) vocational, and d) independent living areas. The final categorization of the events divides them into: a) Legal Policies & Standards, b) Publications, and c) Outcome Measurement Instruments.

Data collection procedures

The ATOMS project team launched the field scan with a series of internal interviews. We then followed up with a literature search of recommended sources, evaluating reference lists and bibliographies of key papers and a review of Science Citation key sources. Listed events were sorted into a chronological order and categorized.


The chronological list is presented in two displays; the first is set-up as a two-dimensional array (PDF 0.50MB) that lists events and respective codes. The second is set-up as a time-line horizontal chart (PDF 0.42MB) labeled by key descriptors.


The precursors to AT outcomes work began in the area of legal policy standards starting with the Institute of Medicine in 1970. It wasn’t until the mid 1990’s that publications and outcome measurement instruments emerged. This field of interest is young. Six specific summary observations follow.

  1. Federal laws and regulations seem to serve as precursors to AT outcomes measurement development.
  2. This chronology speaks to AT outcomes measurement not AT outcomes research that might follow a parallel, but distinct path.
  3. All four service areas (medicine, education, vocational rehabilitation, and independent living) are represented with highly interdisciplinary efforts.
  4. The field of AT outcomes measurement is very young, with focused works mostly published since the mid 1990’s.
  5. Many Federal agencies and organizations have prominently shown interest and encouraged progress in AT outcomes measurement research. Perhaps this has occurred on the wave of socio-political interest related to accountability.
  6. Little outcomes measurement to date has dealt with cost, although mention of the need is increasing.


The field of assistive technology remains young, maybe in its infancy. This field scan organized published interdisciplinary contributions into a single source detailing the major events in AT outcomes.


Adaptive Technology Resource Centre. (n.d.). Assistive technology outcomes. Retrieved September 25, 2003, from

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, Pub. L. 101-336, July 26, 1990, 104 Stat. 327 Short title, see 42 U.S.C. 12101 note.
Andrich, R. (2002). The SCAI instrument: Measuring costs of individual assistive technology programmes. Technology and Disability, 14(3), 95-99.

Assistive Technology Act of 1998, Pub. L. 105-394, Nov. 13, 1998, 112 Stat. 3627 Short title, see 29 U.S.C. 3001 note.

Assistive Technology in the Community. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2, 2003, from

ATOMS Project, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. (2001). Assistive technology outcomes measurement system. Retrieved September 25, 2003, from

CARF (2001). Employment and community services: Standards Manual July 2001-June 2002. Tucson: Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.

CATOR (n.d.). Consortium for assistive technology outcomes research. Retrieved September 25, 2003, from

Committee on Assessing Rehabilitation Science and Engineering. (1997). Enabling America: Assessing the role of rehabilitation science and engineering. Washington, D.C.: Institute of Medicine.

Community Research for Assistive Technology (CR4AT). (n.d.). Retrieved October 2, 2003, from

Community Research for Assistive Technology. (2001). NIDRR program directory: Disability and rehabilitation research projects. Retrieved October 2, 2003, from

Cook, A., Hussey, S. (1995). Assistive technologies: Principles and practice. California: Mosby Year-Book, Inc.

Cook, A., Hussey, S. (2001). Assistive technologies: Principles and practice (2nd ed.). California: Mosby Year-Book, Inc.

Day, H., & Jutai, J. (1996). Measuring the psychosocial impact of assistive devices: The PIADS. Canadian Journal of Rehabilitation, 9, 159-168.

Demers, L., Weiss-Lambrou, R., & Ska, B. (1996). Development of the Quebec User Evaluation of Satisfaction with Assistive Technology (QUEST). Assistive Technology, 8, 3-13.

DeRuyter, F. (1995). Evaluating outcomes in assistive technology: Do we understand the commitment? Assistive Technology, 7(1), 3-16.

Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, Pub. L. 94-142, Nov. 29, 1975, 89 Stat. 773 Short title, see 20 U.S.C. 1400 note.

Education of the Handicapped Act Amendments of 1986, Pub. L. 99-457, Oct. 8, 1986, 100 Stat. 1145 Short title, see 20 U.S.C. 1400 note.

Edyburn, D. (Ed.) (2000). Technology and assessment [Special issue]. Diagnostique, 25(4).

Edyburn, D. (Ed.) (2001). What types of outcomes should be expected when students use assistive and instructional technologies?

Special Education Technology Practice, 3(1).

Federal Register/Department of Education/National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR); Notices of Final Long-Range Plan for Fiscal Years 1999-2004. (1999).

Fougeyrollas, P., Noreau, L., Bergeron, H., Cloutier, R., Dion, S., & St-Michel, G. (1998). Social consequences of long tem impairments and disabilities: Conceptual approach and assessment of handicap. International Journal of Rehabilitation Research 21, 127-41.

Hammel, J. & Finlayson, M. (2003). Journal of Disability Policy Studies. 12(2), 66-129.

IDEA reauthorization, Pub. L. 105-17, June 4, 1997, 111 Stat. 37 Short title, see 20 U.S.C. 1400 note.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Pub. L. 102-119, Oct. 7, 1991, 105 Stat. 587 Short title, see 20 U.S.C. 1400 note.

Information Technology for Independence. (2001). Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, Health Information Management.
NATRI. (2000). National Assistive Technology Research Institute: Mission and Overview. Retrieved December 23, 2003, from the World Wide Web:

Pressman, H., Blackstone, S. (1996). Alliance '96 portfolio: Outcomes measurement in assistive technology. California: Augmentative Communication Inc.

Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1986, Pub L. 99-506, Oct. 21, 1986, 100 Stat. 1807 Short title, see 29 U.S.C. 701 note.

Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1992, Pub. L. 102-569, Oct. 29, 1992, 106 Stat. 4344 Short title, see 29 U.S.C. 701 note.

Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, Pub. L. 105-220, title IV, Aug. 7, 1998, 112 Stat. 1092 Short title, see 29 U.S.C. 701 note.

Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Pub. L. 93-112, Sept. 26, 1973, 87 Stat. 355 Short title, see 29 U.S.C. 701 note.

Research Plan for the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research. (1993). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,

Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

RESNA. (1998). Volume I: RESNA Resource guide for assistive technology outcomes: Measurement tools. Arlington, VA: author.

RESNA. (1998). Volume II: RESNA Resource guide for assistive technology outcomes: Assessment instruments, tools, & checklists from the field. Arlington, VA: author.

RESNA. (1998). Volume III: RESNA Resource guide for assistive technology outcomes: Developing domains of need and criteria of services. Arlington, VA: author.

RESNA. (n.d.). RESNA policy on the qualification of service providers in assistive technology. Retrieved September 24, 2003, from

RESNA. (1992). Assistive technology and the individualized education program. Washington DC: RESNA Technical Assistance Project.

RESNA. (1997). Guidelines for knowledge of skills for provision of the specialty technology. Virginia: author.
Scherer, M., & Craddock, G. (2002). Matching person and technology (MPT) assessment process. Technology and Disability, 14, 125-131.

Schwartzberg, J. G., Kakavas, V. K., Furey, P., Malkind, S., & Change, C. (1994). Guidelines for the use of assistive technology: Evaluation referral prescription. Chicago: American Medical Association.

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Smith, R.O. (1993). Assessing the impact of assistive technology using OT FACT version 2.0. Proceedings of the 16th Annual RESNA Conference, Arlington, VA.

Technology-Related Assistance Act for Individuals with Disabilities, Pub. L. 100-407, Aug. 19, 1988, 102 Stat. 1044 Short title, see 29 U.S.C. 2201 note.

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Trachtmann, L. (1994). Outcome measures: Are we ready to answer the tough questions? Assistive Technology, 6, 91-92.
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