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Central Washington University

CWU’s Special Education Technology Center Awarded $360K

ELLENSBURG, Wash. — Central Washington University’s Special Education Technology Center (SETC) has received a $360,000 grant for the 2013-14 academic year to support assistive technology in K-12 public schools. This grant comes from the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to support the SETC in its statewide needs project.

The grant is the SETC’s primary funding source. It is used it to cover costs for disseminating information, providing consultations to school districts, stocking and maintaining its assistive technology lending library, and offering in-service trainings ranging from full-day conferences to webinars and tech support.

The SETC provides all 296 public school districts in the state with training, technologies, and services that assist students with special educational needs. It also provides services to the families of these students through their child’s school district.

“Our purpose is to ensure that students with special educational needs have the opportunity to learn and receive an education appropriate to their needs and abilities, ” says SETC Director Jerry Connolly. “The SETC is the only assistive technology resource in the state that focuses specifically on K-12 public schools. Without the SETC, school districts and families would have to rely on philanthropy, private funds, or state services like [the Department of Social and Health Services].”

The SETC is one of six projects that the OSPI funds to support special education within Washington State. Each project focuses on a different facet of special education, such as assistive technology, sensory disabilities, or autism. The SETC has training/consultation centers in Ellensburg, Tacoma, Federal Way, and Spokane. They also provide training at each of the nine Educational Service Districts around the state and, per request, at any school district site.

Training and consultation is also provided via webinar and teleconference.  “Travel is expensive,” says Connolly. “The distance technologies we use allow us to serve every school district in Washington State without the burden of travel time/cost for us or the school team."

The SETC has several part-time assistive technology specialists with backgrounds in speech therapy and occupational therapy, located across the state.  These employees provide consultation and hands-on technical assistance for students whose communication and physical access needs can be addressed with technology interventions.

Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1518, valeriec@cwu.edu

September 16, 2013