RESNA Announces Certification Program Changes

The Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) is a non-profit professional organization whose members serve people with disabilities seeking technology applications to maximize their ability to function in their environment.

Thirteen years ago, RESNA established a voluntary certification program administrated by the RESNA Professional Standards Board (PSB). The purpose of the certification program is to promote quality assurance for the consumer, and uphold standards for competent practice in the delivery of assistive technology (AT) services. The RESNA PSB has recently completed a comprehensive program evaluation to ensure the integrity and value of certification for professionals and to better serve those with disabilities.

After extensive research by the RESNA Professional Standards Board (PSB), input from stakeholders, consideration of alternatives, and discussions with certificants and members, a Certification Program comprised of a single AT certification is planned. Development of additional appropriate Specialty Certifications is planned, beginning with Seating and Mobility.

The RESNA PSB and Board of Directors (BOD) have approved the consolidation of the current Assistive Technology Practitioner (ATP) and Assistive Technology Supplier (ATS) certifications into a single certification. For reasons of trademark protection/violation, marketing and branding, and intent for the designation to have relevance, the RESNA BOD and PSB have chosen to maintain the acronym ATP and assign the letters a new meaning. The new designation, Assistive Technology Professional (ATP) recognizes professionals who have reached an internationally accepted standard of knowledge in assistive technology and who adhere to RESNA`s code of ethics and standards of practice. Unlike the current ATP and ATS, the Assistive Technology Professional (ATP) is not associated with the certificant`s role (evaluation or for-profit sale). Regulations, licensure, employment requirements, and policy of funding sources continue to dictate who may perform what service.

The RESNA Professional Standards Board and Board of Directors are committed to an aggressive time line for implementing program changes. Our next steps are:

1. Announce a no-fee, no additional testing, administrative procedure and timeline current certificants will use to convert from the ATP and ATS designations to the Assistive Technology Professional;
2. Ensure the appropriate changes are made in policy with funding sources, employers, and accrediting bodies;
3. Move forward with strategic communications and marketing plans to increase the value of the certification and to provide materials for certificants to promote their certification;
4. Develop and release an updated test instrument for January 2009;
5. Implement computer-based testing in January 2009; and
6. Develop and implement the first specialty certification in Seating and Mobility in mid 2009.

Working on behalf of the interests of RESNA certificants, the Professional Standards Board and Board of Directors are dedicated to upholding the integrity and value of the RESNA certification program. It is with this motivation that we move forward with the announced changes.

Greg W. McGrew
President, RESNA

Laura Cohen
Chair, Professional Standards Board