Abilities Technology Strategic Plan

Abilities Technology Strategic Plan

Abilities Technology Strategic Plan / 2015 /
Abilities Technology Strategic Plan / July 1
Abilities of Northwest Jersey Technology Strategic Plan, provides a common vision for continued technological advancement and strategic planning for future growth and needs in the area of technology. / Using Technology to help individuals with different Abilities /


Executive Summary...... 2

Criteria for the Technology Plan...... 3

Overarching Goal...... 3

Action Step 1: Strengthen Leadership ...... 3

Action Step 2: Improve Staff Training ...... 5

Action Step 3: Support Agency’s Programs and Services ...... 6

Action Step 4: Provide Improved Access and Technology Usage………………………..8

Glossary...... 9

Task Force Committee Members...... 9

Abilities of Northwest Jersey Technology Plan


The Abilities of Northwest Jersey Technology Plan is aligned to the national technology plan, Toward a New Golden Age in American Education: How the Internet, the Law, and Today’s Students are Revolutionizing Expectations and outlines the Abilities’ vision for educational technology. The document offers guidance to agency systems and leaders on how to build local capacity to support further implementation of technology in today’s educational settings. The Abilities plan provides a common vision for continued technological advancement and strategic planning for future growth and needs in the area of technology and its many uses.

Four major action steps (objectives) are addressed in the plan and have been reviewed for alignment with national goals and expectations, as well as, the overall Abilities technology goal. Addressing the following four action steps will assist the Abilities and local agency systems in developing technology integrated learning environments supported by all stakeholders:

Action Step 1: Strengthen Leadership

Action Step 2: Improve Staff Training

Action Step 3: Support Agency’s Programs and Services

Action Step 4: Provide Improved Access and Technology Usage

While necessary revisions will occur during the life of this document, it is intended to serve as a model by each program at Abilities. The technology strategic plan will be evaluated annually and revised every three years. The technology strategic plan consists of the following sections: (1) Statement of action step, (2) Statement of current status, (3) listing of benchmark/targets, (4) evaluation strategies and timelines, and (5) recommended Abilities strategies.

The plan must meet the following five criteria that are core elements of successful technology initiatives:

1. The plan must establish clear goals and a realistic strategy for using telecommunications and information technology to programs or services;

2. The plan must have a professional development strategy to ensure that staff knows how to use these new technologies to improve programs or services;

3. The plan must include an assessment of the telecommunication services, hardware, software, and other services that will be needed to improve programs or services;

4. The plan must provide for a sufficient budget to acquire and support the no discounted elements of the plan: the hardware, software, professional development, and other services that will be needed to implement the strategy;

5. The plan must include an evaluation process that enables the agency to monitor progress toward the specified goals and make mid-course corrections in response to new developments and opportunities as they arise.



ACTION STEP 1: STRENGTHEN LEADERSHIP Leaders at all levels will support systemic change through transformational leadership while monitoring effective use of instructional technology which supports standards- based agency improvement efforts.

Current Status

  • All newly hired staff are trained in Foothold;
  • All Staff are provided with a copy of Abilities technology policies & procedures;
  • Staff and consumers are provided with technology to use to achieve their goals;
  • All leaders will include components of effective technology integration in the development of agency improvement plans.

Recommended Abilities Strategies Provide cohesive, multi-faceted technology leadership professional development opportunities, career pathing, and tech tools for administrators. Encourage technology based creative and supportive partnerships between agencies, higher education, businesses and the community. Encourage e-mail as the official source of communication to strengthen leader’s technology skills at all levels. Provide samples of indicators that monitor and evaluate the use of technology for curriculum integration to be used on Abilities required observation, or evaluation forms. Encourage all task force and special committees established to focus on technology- related issues to include memberships comprised of all appropriate stakeholders. Encourage all administrators to have a basic understanding of accessible technology and universal design principles and their impact on instructional practice. Pursue educational technology funding for programs. Foster the development of administrators as “instructional leaders” providing technology leadership models and programs highly focused on instruction, technology integrated programs/services and operational planning that includes technology.

Recommended Agency Strategies Establish and maintain systems of communication that support the effective use of electronic communication. Provide funding and technical support for leaders at all levels to enable participation in ongoing professional development activities. Provide each staff and administrator with an up-to-date computer, software and appropriate training to ensure its effective use. Conduct a technology needs assessment of each program/service and establish a plan for technology professional development for leaders/aspiring leaders. Provide for a plan to systematically update equipment which keeps pace with the changing technology.

Evaluation Strategies and Timeline

  • Evaluation Strategy Frequency - Abilities Annual Survey

Step 1- Implementation Plan for Leadership
Year / Action Items
1 / Upgrade technology service to O365
1 / Distribute tablets to support their work outside of the office
2 / Test remote backup procedures
2 / Distribute higher powered computers
3 / Upgrade desktop processing system to Windows 10
3 / Evaluate technology needs for leadership


Staff will participate in effective professional development to ensure that technology and other educational resources available at Abilities are being used to enhance staff and service recipient growth and learning.

Current Status

  • Offer professional development opportunities throughout the Abilities.
  • Seek competitive grants to support staff and consumer development through technology integration.
  • Use cloud and server based support for daily technology use
  • All staff will engage in professional development that includes both online and face-to-face local along with Abilities developed professional development opportunities.
  • All staff will participate in professional learning communities that facilitate the integration of technology into staff and service recipient learning.
  • All new staff will participate in ongoing professional development designed to facilitate the integration of technology into instruction and support the establishment of highly qualified staff
  • All staff will know how to use data to personalize/individualize instruction

Recommended Abilities Strategies Offer the following face-to-face, hybrid, or online professional development opportunities at either the Abilities main office, centers or community partner sites. Expand Making Connections resources and provide associated professional development opportunities. Provide professional development training. Allocate sufficient funds and resources for professional development and technology to support personnel. Offer support in the area of Assistive Technology at Abilities. Utilize e-mail as the official source of communication.

Evaluation Strategies and Timeline

  • Evaluation Strategy Frequency – Semi-Annual Survey after agency-wide training

Step 2- Staff Training
Year / Action Items
1 / Create Foothold User Manual
1 / Develop Foothold Training for current and future staff
2 / Provide supplementary training for staff on how to use Smart Boards
2 / Provide training for staff on how to utilize new apps
3 / Examine opportunities to build on staff training for the future
3 / Evaluate agency’s training needs for staff


In the past five years there has been significant growth in service provision to individuals with disabilities and their staff. Traditional agencies are turning to these services to expand opportunities and choices.

Current Status

  • Abilities’ provides access to high quality programs and services.
  • Abilities operates 6 day habilitation programs in 3 separate locations (Phillipsburg, Washington, Hackettstown)
  • Individuals who attend these programs are offered training through a wide range of activities. These activities include but are not limited to all areas of life skills, community inclusion, and sensory activities. All activities are geared toward increasing independence and quality of life.
  • Job Club and Self-Advocacy meetings are held monthly for anyone who chooses to participate.
  • OT, PT and Speech Therapy can be provided on site. Therapists can work directly with individuals to provide assessment and therapeutic intervention designed to maximize skills in the areas listed above.
  • With the evolution of technology, Abilities has found that it is beneficial to incorporate within its programs training on utilizing computers and tablets. Individuals, who are interested, will have the opportunity to use a computer/tablet for the purpose of educational, therapeutic, or communication activities.

Recommended Abilities Strategies Provide new service recipients the opportunity to enroll in Abilities programs/services. Give staff the opportunity to expand learning opportunities. Disseminate Abilities program and service information throughout Hunterdon, Morris, Sussex and Warren counties to promote the enrollment. Provide current and new staff with growth opportunities.

Evaluation Strategies and Timeline

  • Evaluation Strategy Frequency- Program Survey Annually Completed

Step 3- Programs & Services
Year / Action Items
1 / Provide tablets for staff and updated computers for staff and consumers to use
1 / Obtained hard cases, stylus and keyboards for staff to use with tablets
2 / Upgrade 2011 machines to SSD
2 / Implement video-based support to record consumers job performance
3 / Introduce electronic job coaching
3 / Review repair issues for tablets and laptops to determine date to swap the old equipment for new.


Most agencies now have access to high-speed, high capacity hardware, software, and broadband communications. However, improved access, usage and integrated, interoperable data systems that are current and well maintained could empower Abilities programs and services.

Current Status

  • A recent Technology survey discovered that “Ninety percent owned more than one device (personal computer, landline telephone, tablet, and public computer, mobile phone without applications or Internet, or smartphone), with many reporting high utilization of multiple devices, and 61% having 2 devices”.
  • Help to keep staff and service recipients aware of latest technology
  • CEO or designee backs up the server on a weekly basis as per protocol.
  • IT Consultant monitors broadband and network support to ensure the most secure and up to date versions are available.
  • Integrated data systems provide staff and service recipients with access to agency performance data and analysis tools and resources to assist in the analysis and use of data.
  • EHR Specialist works with Director of Programming Services to ensure all electronic files or services provided to consumers are up to date.
  • CFO approves technology requests and purchases.
  • The Abilities IT Committee works to ensure inventory is up to date and older-pieces are replaced as they reach the 3-5 year mark or stop performing efficiently.

Recommended Abilities Strategies Advocate that all staff and consumers have access to a variety of electronic resources such as digital and video cameras, scanners, graphing calculators, and science probes. Work to create and expand opportunities for distributing computers to staff for home use for the items that do not meet Abilities performance requirements. Continue partnerships with other organizations. Support the creation finding diverse funding sources to support technology use. Seek grant awards and support local efforts to obtain grants at the corporate, state and federal levels.

Evaluation Strategies and Timeline

  • Evaluation Abilities Technology annual strategic plan review

Step 4- Technology Access
Year / Action Items
1 / Introduce new tablets for greater consumer and staff access
1 / Implement new higher speed band through cable for internet access
2 / Upgrade file server memory
2 / Introduce more applications to allow for easier file sharing
3 / Switch from LogMeIn backup to One-Drive
3 / Evaluate agency technology access in relation to agency needs


  • Assistive Technology- The term “assistive technology device” means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a child with a disability. The term excludes medical devices that are surgically implanted, or the replacement of such devices. [20 U.S.C. Section 602.1]


A special thank you goes to the following task force members for their work on drafting the latest Abilities Technology Strategic Plan. Their dedication and hard work are appreciated.

  • Chief Executive Officer- Cynthia B. Wildermuth
  • Information Technology Consultant- Stephan Schauble, ACN
  • Chief Financial Officer- Michael Nicholson, EdS, MS, CCTM, CSSO