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  • Writer's pictureStacy Crouse

How to Prepare a Parent or Facilitator for a Telepractice Assessment

For Speech-Language Pathologists, learning to administer assessments via telepractice presents a unique 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 the information they need to help the evaluation run smoothly.

Before the assessment session, the evaluating SLP can contact the person who will be facilitating. If it's the first time they’ve ever participated in something like this, it's definitely worth the time and effort to prepare them adequately.

In cases where the facilitator is a designated school staff member who will be assisting with other assessments in the future, your efforts will go even further for each subsequent assessment.

A parent facilitator assisting his child in participating in a teletherapy assessment by ensuring the equipment is properly set up

There are several important components to discuss with the designated facilitator including setting up the technology, creating a testing environment, and standing by during the virtual assessment.

Technology Setup for a Teletherapy Assessment

The following technology considerations will ensure that the SLP and student can properly hear and see each other, which will decrease the likelihood of tech issues arising during the evaluation session.

A Computer

The student will need a fully charged laptop or desktop computer with high-speed internet access. To maintain adequate bandwidth for audio/video conferencing, inform the facilitator that others should not be streaming large amounts of data from the same network.

A Webcam

The facilitator should know how to connect and turn on the webcam so that you can see the child's entire face.

A Headset

A headset with a microphone is recommended (rather than the computer's built-in speaker and microphone) 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 a second set of headphones.

A Second Device (Optional)

You may want to discuss the need for having another device (a phone or tablet) set up and logged into the platform. This second device would serve as another camera that is only viewing the child‘s screen. It provides a way for the SLP to see where the child points for receptive tasks.

The Environment for a Teletherapy Assessment

In addition to the technology, the student's surroundings should also support the evaluation process as much as possible.

Proper Ergonomics

The student should be seated at a desk or table with proper back and foot support. Generally speaking, the elbows, hips, and knees should each be at a 90-degree angle. The screen should be at the level of the child's face (so they are not looking up or down).

A Quiet Space

The room should be quiet and free from distractions. This includes having siblings or peers, devices, toys, and food out of the vicinity where they could interfere with the session.

Adequate Lighting

The child should be sitting in a well-lit room, with a light source in front of them (and not just behind them). In short, you want the student's face to be easily visible.

Preparing parents and school staff for a teletherapy assessment

Assist During a Telepractice Evaluation

After the technology and environment have been set up, the facilitator's job is not done. Working with the facilitator to complete the following duties will help the evaluation be successful until the end.

Refrain from helping the student.

One of the most important points to convey to the facilitator is that during standardized portions of an assessment, neither they nor anyone in the room can help the student respond in any way. This includes not repeating or rephrasing directions or prompts and not helping the student identify or communicate answers.

This direction is worth repeating to the facilitator a time or two, including right before the evaluation so that the student and anyone else that may be in the vicinity also 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 and address any issues with it immediately when they arise.

Verify that the technology is working.

Before the test, inform the facilitator that they should verify that the student can clearly hear and see the SLP. There should be no significant delay or intermittent sound signal.

Troubleshoot technology issues.

The facilitator should also be ready to assist if technology, attention, or behavioral issues arise. Their physical proximity to the student during the assessment depends on the student’s age, computer skills, and ability to remain seated and attentive to the computer.

Free Teletherapy Assessment Checklist

You can provide the above information to the evaluation facilitator not only verbally, but also in written form. Download a FREE checklist of teletherapy assessment reminders to send facilitators ahead of time.

Checklist for evaluations in teletherapy to prepare parent or school professional

While preparing a facilitator for a telepractice assessment can be somewhat tedious, it will always be worth your time to help evaluations get off on the right foot and save you time in the long run.

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