The ATOMS Project – AT Outcomes Studies from the Vocational Model

Todd Schwanke

How does AT contribute to VR services and how effective is it compared to other concurrent or alternative interventions? What data is already being collected? How do you analyze the data? The ATOMS Project has partnered with Wisconsin DVR to develop and deliver several surveys and conduct AT outcomes analyses to help tackle the complex problems that create barriers to providing answers to these seemingly simple questions. This project investigates both historical data from existing systems and new data generated from the consumer, counselor, and provider surveys created specifically for this study.

This brief presentation describes the surveys and analyses, discusses sample survey questions, and explains some preliminary data. Challenges in data collection, analysis, and use of data/information will also be discussed. Of the four common models (medical, educational, vocational, and independent living) that people with disabilities experience and that ATOMS considers, this presentation focuses on the vocational model.

The results of this work have the potential to help guide the micro and macro decisions that service providers and administrators make related to AT in work. The team is also investigating the legal implications of how "evidence" produced by such studies might be used by different stakeholders in both positive and negative ways.

The Assistive Technology Outcomes Measurement System (ATOMS) Project ( is a highly collaborative effort based at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and is funded in part by NIDRR under Project H133A010403. Portions of this work have also been funded by the Wisconsin Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR).

Presentation Slides:
Slides 1-14
Slides 15-27

Todd Schwanke, MSE, ATP, is the Technical Specialist and a Project Leader for the Rehabilitation Research Design and Disability Center (R2D2) Center ( in the College of Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (UWM). His training and experience include rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology service delivery. He works on several projects, including the ATOMS (Assistive Technology Outcomes Measurement System) Project, RERC-AMI (Accessible Medical Instrumentation), and UWM’s Community Design Solutions. He also manages the ATUA (Assistive Technology and Universal Access) Lab in the Department of Occupational Therapy, is part of a team that teaches assistive technology and universal design courses, provides AT consultation for campus students, and teaches workshops on assistive technology and accessibility. His special interests include computer access, universal design, web accessibility, and adaptive skiing.

Presentation from the 'Workplace Accommodations: State of the Science' conference, September 15-16, 2005, Atlanta, GA