ATSTAR is an acronym which stands for Assistive Technology: Strategies, Tools, Accommodations, and Resources. It is a collaborative partnership comprised of educational professionals in Pre-K to 16 settings, technology experts, curriculum specialists, and leaders in the field of assistive technology. The central goal of ATSTAR is to build a National Collaborative Network to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to technology-enriched education and competitive employment opportunities. ATSTAR promotes the utilization of promising approaches and technology innovation relevant to the needs, issues, and trends affecting people with disabilities.
ATSTAR also engages in the research, development and piloting of innovative parent and teacher training initiatives to improve social, educational, and vocational results. The ATSTAR Collaborative is an organization that sees opportunities where others see obstacles.
The accomplishments of the ATSTAR Program demonstrate our partnership's ability to coordinate successful, national collaborations and to complete innovative and high quality products, against tremendous odds, and under tight timelines. In an 11-month period, the ATSTAR Program accomplished the following:
- Designed, and developed an innovative, interactive, CDROM/web-based curriculum for teams of campus personnel
- Established mission-critical partnerships with organizations that train and employ adults and students with disabilities
- Designed and produced a web portal of assistive technology resources that meets the highest standards of accessible multimedia and web design, including the W3C Standards
- In addition to making the user-end of ATSTAR materials completely accessible, the program collaborators have been working to make the system administration software for the ATSTAR web portal completely accessible as well. The purpose in making the system administration software for the ATSTAR web site completely accessible is to ensure that people with disabilities can be employed to maintain the Center's web-based resources and manage the Center's web portal.
The ATSTAR program was initially developed with a grant from the Texas Education Agency through their Technology Integration in Education (TIE) grant program. The grant was awarded to the Austin Independent School District (AISD) and development of ATSTAR was a collaborative effort between AISD and the following six agencies: The Austin Community College, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin Harvard School, Sylvan Learning Center, Far South Community Schools, and Region XIII Education Service Center.
The grant effort produced a CD and web-based assistive technology training model designed to prepare instructional staff at the campus level to conduct assessments, collect data, and integrate assistive technology into the instructional setting. The grant participants included 56 public school personnel on 14 separate campuses and 2 private school personnel. Training was delivered to approximately 640 educators and has impacted over 1,800 students. Additionally, in the 2004-05 school year 30 districts in Central Texas participated in the pilot.
In 2005, Knowbility took over full ownership of the ATSTAR curriculum, further developed an administrative tracking engine, and updated the curriculum.