How to Prepare a Parent or Facilitator for a Telepractice Assessment
For Speech-Language Pathologists, learning to administer assessments via telepractice is a learning curve. However, there are ways for SLPs to make that curve a little less steep. One of the best ways to prepare for a virtual assessment is to equip the adult on the student’s side (a parent, caregiver, school staff member, etc.) with all the information they need to help the evaluation run smoothly.
Before the assessment session, it’s important to be in contact with the facilitator that will be assisting with the evaluation on the student’s side. This is likely the first time they’ve ever participated in something like this, and you really can’t over-prepare them. It's definitely worth your time and effort to provide adequate preparation. If the facilitator is a designated school staff member that will be assisting other assessments in the future, your efforts will go even further by preparing them for subsequent assessments.
When speaking with the facilitator, here are some important responsibilities to discuss:
Setting Up the Technology
The student will need a fully charged computer (laptop or desktop) with high-speed internet access. Inform the facilitator that others should not be streaming a lot of data from the same network, in order to maintain adequate bandwidth for audio/video conferencing.
Be sure the facilitator knows how to connect and/or turn on the webcam so that you can see the child's entire face.
A headset with a microphone is recommended over using the built-in speaker and mic, since it ensures a higher quality of audio input and output. If the parent wants to listen to the evaluation, they can utilize a splitter to plug in their own headset.
You may want to discuss the use of a second device (a phone or tablet) to be set up and logged into the platform as another camera that is only viewing the child‘s screen. This way you can see where the child points for receptive tasks.
Creating the Environment
The student should be seated at a desk or table with proper back and foot support.
The room should be quiet and free from distractions, including siblings or peers, devices, toys, and food.
The child should be sitting in a well-lit room, with their face easily visible.
The biggest point here is that the facilitator (or anyone in the room) cannot repeat or rephrase directions or prompts or help the student with answers in any way unless you are not using standardized assessments and are allowing it. This one is worth repeating to the facilitator a time or two, including right before the evaluation so that the student, facilitator, and anyone else that may be in the vicinity hears it. The ability to report standard scores and/or determine the child's abilities is dependent on this factor, so it's important to ensure understanding.
Prior to the test, inform the facilitator that he/she can assist by verifying that the student can clearly hear and see the SLP with no significant delay or intermittent sound signal.
The facilitator should also be ready to assist if technology, attention, or behavioral issues arise. Their physical proximity to the student depends on the student’s age, computer skills, and ability to remain seated at and attentive to the computer.
While preparing a facilitator for a telepractice assessment can be somewhat tedious, it will always be worth your time in helping evaluations get off on the right foot and save you time in the long run. Not only should you verbally discuss the above points, but providing them in writing may be helpful too! If you haven’t already, head over to my TpT store and download a FREE checklist of reminders to send facilitators prior to telepractice assessments.
Check out this blog post for more telepractice assessment tips!