Success Story: Using Computerized Forms to Lessen Paperwork Burden

Kay Ostrom, SLP
Kaskaskia School District, Illinois

What did you do?

In 1993, a fellow SLP and I decided that we had had enough of cumbersome paperwork and asked our special education director to find us a computer program. We believed that there had to be a simpler way to complete the paperwork that was required. We connected with a computer programmer and developed a software program to do the special education paperwork required by IDEA.

What were your greatest challenges?

In 1993, most of us didn't really understand what computers could do for us. What we did know was what was needed to do our jobs. At first, it was hard to get the computer programmer to understand what we do and how he could make our lives easier. Once the software was developed, however, it was a challenge to make people understand that we had learned a lot about computers. We were seen as people who do "speech." Our other challenge was getting other SLPs and teachers to understand how easy the computer program was to use and how much time it could save them.

What advice would you give others?

The best advice I could give to anyone who is advocating for a change is to join a colleague or group of colleagues. Don't try to do it alone. We found that working together helped us maintain our focus and sustain the effort. One of the most rewarding things about doing this was that the colleagues in my district were so appreciative of our efforts. Using computerized forms greatly lessened their paperwork burden. Using the Helping Educators to Lessen Paperwork (HELP) program, we can now complete an IEP and all of the associated paperwork in about twenty minutes! The time savings is there for anyone who wants to use the program.

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