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clinically speaking
The New ATP Exam: Now Ready for All
By Julie Piriano, PT, ATP/SMS
As the RESNA Board liaison to the Professional Standards Board (PSB), I commend the PSB on a job well done in their implementation of a new, robust Assistive Technology Professional (ATP) Certification exam.
RESNA began the credentialing process in 1992, with the first ATP (Practitioner) and ATS (Supplier) exams administered in 1996. Its purpose was to “identify qualified providers by testing fundamental knowledge” and “set standards to measure competence and guide professional conduct.” In 2008, when it became clear that successful candidates of the two “generalist” exams demonstrated the same foundation of knowledge in assistive technology (AT) regardless of their role or method of service delivery, RESNA began consolidating the two exams.
The consolidated ATP (Professional) certification recog- nized individuals who analyze the needs of consumers with disabilities, assist in selecting appropriate equip- ment or services, and train consumers to use equipment in a “best practices” manner. These individuals reach an internationally accepted standard of knowledge in AT and promote RESNA’s standards of practice and code of ethics. But to make this an exam that could be effectively administered internationally, as requested by colleagues in Canada and numerous other countries, all United States-centric information needed to be removed.
The new exam, launching March 13, has no ques- tions related to U.S. laws, policies or funding, and was updated to test candidates’ broad scope of knowledge currently used in AT. Since the credential is not specific to one type of service delivery setting (e.g., clinics, schools, agencies), AT (e.g., augmentative and alterna- tive communication, wheelchairs, computer access) or diagnosis, disability or age across the lifespan, the PSB enlisted 53 subject matter experts (SMEs), who volun- teered their time to each step of the process.
According to PSB Chair Dan Cochrane, “The exam outline and the questions on the exam were written
by highly experienced AT practitioners who apply their expertise to the scenarios depicted. The exam reflects a variety of real-life situations related to the assessment, intervention planning and implementation of AT.”
Developing the new ATP exam involved five steps, completed from 2013 to 2016, to meet accreditation standards from the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE). These include Job Analysis, Task Analysis, Item
18 march 2017 | mobilitymanagement
Writing (creating test ques- tions), Field Testing, and Standard Setting.
Job Analysis
Led by Knapp & Associates,
the first group of SMEs defined
the scope of AT practice based
on how a transdisciplinary
range of professionals with
basic competence provides
AT services. They started with
RESNA’s existing job analysis and updated it to reflect current practice. Their greatest challenge was capturing the generic tasks that define AT service provision no matter where it happens, what type of AT is implemented or who receives it. The final outline can be viewed at and includes updates to the following:
1. Assessment of needs (11 tasks, approximately 30 percent of the exam).
2. Development of intervention strategies (14 tasks, approximately 27 percent of the exam).
3. Implementation of intervention (11 tasks, approxi- mately 25 percent of the exam).
4. Evaluation of intervention (4 tasks, approximately 15 percent of the exam).
5. Professional conduct/ethics (2 tasks, approximately 3 percent of the exam).
In conducting the ATP Job Analysis Study, the panel identified 81 knowledge areas relevant to the provi- sion of AT services, which can be viewed at resna. org/get-certified/atp/exam-outline/atp-job-analy- sis-study-knowledges. While I cannot tell you what is on the exam, understanding the 81 knowledge sets and 42 tasks used to write the questions will help you prepare.
The final outline was sent to 3,520 AT practitioners; 371 (11 percent) responded. A wide variety of AT practitioners participated in the survey, which was used to create a weighted blueprint for the exam.
Task Analysis
The exam blueprint was further analyzed by a second panel of AT practitioners working in pairs with trained facilitators at The Ohio State University’s (OSU) Center
on Education and Training for Employment (CETE). Each task in the job analysis was broken down to identify steps
Julie Piriano

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