S.T.A.R.S.—Strategies for Technology Assistance in Rural Settings
The STARS Assistive Technology Center is a partnership among NEREC, The New Mexico Governor’s Commission on Disability (GCD), the New Mexico Technology Assistance Program (NMTAP), and New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU).
There is a significant need in rural Northeastern New Mexico for a range of assistive technology (AT) equipment, services, and supports. Services in remote, rural areas are not readily accessible to people with disabilities. These individuals often do without accommodations that would greatly enhance their opportunities to succeed academically, in training, and in careers. Many people with disabilities can benefit from improved quality of life through use of assistive technology. The STARS AT Center provides increased access to assistive technology, a critical component of a system of supports.
The mission of the STARS AT Center is to facilitate access to assistive technology for students and adults with disabilities in rural Northeastern New Mexico and assist them in transitioning to higher levels of educational achievement, employment, and improved quality of life. Our service area includes San Miguel, Mora, Guadalupe, Colfax, Union, and Harding Counties.
The STARS AT Center can also assist other schools and districts across NM through its partnership with the NM Technology Assistance Program (NMTAP). For more information about how you can access the technical assistance and resource facilitation that the STARS AT Center provides, please contact:
- Glenn Damian, NEREC AT Program Director
- Office: (505) 426.2265
- AT Center(505) 454.3560
The STARS AT Center, located on the NMHU campus, provides the following service to schools, students, and adults in rural and small urban communities in the northeastern portion of New Mexico:
- Assistive technology evaluation
- Assistive technology training
- Equipment loans
- User support
- Vocational evaluation
- Transition assessment and facilitation
Important components of the project include training and support to parents and families of persons with disabilities in the use of assistive technology in the home and community environment.
The STARS Assistive Technology Center along with its partner, the New Mexico Technology Assistance Program, hosts assistive technology demonstrations and trainings on a regular basis. These events are open to staff from regional schools, service agencies, students, and families of people with disabilities across New Mexico. We will post upcoming events regularly on this web page.
Building Expertise in AT is Central Focus of S.T.A.R.S. Project
With the assistance of the GCD (Governor’s Commission on Disability) and NMTAP, we will establish a model regional ABLE loan bank with regional demonstrations and trainings at NEREC/NMHU. We will have equipment on loan to students in secondary schools as well as to clients active through DVR (Division for Vocational Rehabilitation). NEREC will maintain inventory control and tracking of equipment on loan.
For this initiative, the NEREC and the participating school districts will identify an Assistive Technology Liaison at each school. These individuals will have an adequate foundation in technology and experience working with students with disabilities. These AT liaisons will receive training in applied AT in educational settings and will meet with teachers and ancillary service providers including SLPs, OTs, and special education directors to identify students with AT needs and assist in setting up evaluations. When students are identified and evaluated, the AT evaluators will train AT liaisons in supporting teachers and ancillary staff who work with students to master the selected technology and provide ongoing support in its use.
An important component of the proposed project will be training and support to parents and families in assisting use of AT in the home and community environment. School social workers will serve as a link to parents and families and will connect them to training through NEREC.
We anticipate implementing that the STARS initiative over a two-year timeframe, with the first year focusing on the establishment of the center, acquisition of AT equipment, development of training materials, initiation of outreach activities, and identification of potential clients and AT liaisons. We plan to begin offering services during the project’s first year and expect the center to be fully operational by the beginning of the second year.