Overview: The Access Technology Skill Assessment Measure (AT-SAM) is the standardized test instrument to evaluate the skill level of a person who uses assistive technology to access a Windows computer equipped with Microsoft Office applications.
The AT-SAM evaluation tool is a person-to-person skills assessment battery intended to produce a baseline functional evaluation of the computer-linked access technology (or “assistive technology”, hereby called AT) skills of a person with visual impairment. AT-SAM is a remotely delivered V-Learning (VVT Virtual Learning) process. The person taking the assessment could be physically located anywhere in the world using a Windows computer that is equipped with Microsoft Office applications and which is set up with the AT-SAM assessment files (with or without Internet access). VVT’s AT-SAM Assessors interact with and monitor the person being assessed remotely from the VVT Access Learning Centerlocated in Greater Philadelphia, PA. Usually there is also a vocational counselor or an HR representative present to observe and assist with any needs of the person taking the assessment.
The person being assessed may be blind, have low vision, or have other visual issues, or learning/physical disabilities that limit their ability to read hard copy print or operate a standard Windows PC and common office productivity software tools without the aid of AT hardware, software, or peripheral equipment (including computer Braille). In the vocational world, the person being assessed may be a job candidate, a new hire, or an employee in need of assessment for AT skill-training connected to job risk, job change, or promotion within an enterprise or agency. In the K-12 and higher education spaces, the students can be reliably assessed for the key performance factors that directly impact educational success.
To address the differences in these two primary categories of AT users and their goals, VVT has two corresponding general versions of the assessment: AT-SAM Pro (Professional) and AT-SAM SE (Student Edition). The new hire/employee vocational emphasis describes the main focus of the Professional version. The Student Edition was developed with orientation toward the needs of high school juniors and seniors, 1st – 2nd year higher education students, or any other person bound for university study or higher education programs.
Since its first use in large corporate enterprises, AT-SAM has been 99% reliable as a predictor of success for job candidates with disabilities hired into computer-linked roles. After one year of using AT-SAM as part of the screening process at one Fortune 50 corporation, all candidates that were hired through that process were still in their jobs. In fact, most of these employees excelled with high rates of productivity, efficiency, and accuracy when compared to their sighted colleagues. In contrast, visually impaired candidates hired into corporate positions without AT-SAM skill screening resulted in a 50% job failure/turnover rate. For further reading about AT-SAM’s potential in vocational settings, check out the AT-SAM Pro documentation: http://VirtualVisionTech.com/AT-SAM_Pro
This same screening technique, when applied specifically to the educational environment (using the Student Edition) yields comparable results and similarly defines any additional training in AT applications that will prepare them for the challenges inherent to the higher educational experience. Additionally, VVT can customize the AT-SAM assessment for your particular business or industry needs and even brand it as a custom evaluation tool specific to your organization!
Using functional performance measurements and careful V-Learning observation methodologies, the AT-SAM assessment team develops a baseline measurement of the blind or low vision person’s abilities to operate a standard Windows computer equipped with Microsoft Office using Assistive Technologies, in a simulated high pressure work or educational environment. Since the person must use AT to access Windows computers, AT-SAM measures the person’s technology performance skills in two arenas: mainstream & assistive software and hardware. Depending on the assessment type, there will be particular emphasis on using the various software titles in a more vocational capacity (with the AT-SAM Pro) or with more of an orientation toward educational research (with the AT-SAM SE).
The written AT-SAM Results Report gives VR Counselors, HR decision-makers, and educational professionals the detailed scoring data that they need to know about an applicant or student’s AT abilities… and by implication, it is a strong indicator of potential for success in competitive employment or educational environments.
The AT-SAM Results Reporting charts the position of an AT user with regard to current skill level measured against National standards and averages and even other real-world peers in similar roles. These metrics are based on many, many years of industry experience and AT-SAM evaluations performed by VVT, as well as current US (National and State) statutory training objective requirements. The outcome reporting also relates any deficits identified and recommends any necessary course work to achieve common vocational and educational goals and performance levels.
The following features are common to both the Professional and Student Edition:
Overall, the AT-SAM is an assessment tool that, when coupled with a window for remediation through training, can gauge ability and ensure the appropriate pairing of an AT user with his or her goals for employment or higher education. The AT-SAM Pro (combined with any resultant/recommended training) can ensure preparedness of an individual for competitive employment in today’s technology-centric work place. Likewise, the AT-SAM SE will prepare the continuing student for the rigors of the higher educational environment and allow the student the opportunity to engage the challenges of contemporary disciplined learning in mixed-delivery environments.
Regardless of how it is applied, AT-SAM is the only tool available, and the only tool you’ll need to benchmark the skill level of an AT user as an indicator for real-world success.