CIRCA:Using the SETT Framework to Level the Learning Field for Students with Disabilities - Zabla, Joy


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The SETT framework is a widely used diagnostic tool for developing assistive technologies [[1]]

"Originally developed to support assistive technology selection and use in educational settings, the principles of the SETT Framework have been used to guide decisions about a much broader range of educational services, and also, with minor adjustments, have been successfully used in non-educational environments and service plans."

conference paper overview

SETT (Student, Environment, Task, Tools) framework .Pdf of conference handout

The SETT Framework, developed by Joy Zabala, is an organisational instrument to help collaborative
teams create student-centred, environmentally useful, and tasks-focused tool systems that foster the educational
success of students with disabilities.
Key questions are asked in each area to in order
to guide teams in gathering data and information to support the consideration and implementation of appropriate
inclusive technologies. These questions provide a framework and not a protocol, as they guide the discussion
and provide a vehicle for the team to collaborate and form a consensus on ‘where to from here’.


  • What are the student’s current abilities?
  • What are the student’s special needs?
  • What are the functional areas of concern?
  • What are the other students doing that this student needs to be able to do?
  • What does the student need to be able to do that is difficult or impossible to accomplish independently at

this time? Environment

  • What activities take place in the environment?
  • Where will the student participate—classroom, home, community, therapy?
  • What is the physical arrangement?
  • What activities do other students do that this student cannot currently participate in?
  • What assistive technology does the student have access to or currently use?


  • What specific tasks occur in the environment?
  • What activities is the student expected to do?
  • What does success look like?


Tools are devices and services—anything that is needed to help the student participate and benefit from.
  • Are the tools being considered on a continuum from no/low to high-tech?
  • Are the tools student centred and task oriented and reflect the student’s current needs?
  • Are tools being considered because of their features that are needed rather than brand names?
  • What is the cognitive load required by the student to use the tool?
  • What are the training requirements for the student, family and staff?
When an inclusive technology solution is identified teams need to consider a number of factors.
  • Does this tool address the tasks the student is experiencing difficulty with?
  • Does it reinforce least restrictive options?
  • Is it simple to use and acquire?
  • Will it be accepted by student, family, and peers?
  • Will the student require a range of strategies for an individual task?
  • Were no/low-tech options also considered?
Finally, a trial and evaluation of the inclusive technology selected is undertaken.
The SETT Framework is not a one off event but an ongoing framework
for collaborative teams to gather information and ensure that the most appropriate inclusive technology tools
are being utilised by the student. As a result there needs to be ongoing Re-SETTing, where teams
need to return to the SETT questions at least annually.
It is a matter of keeping decision-guiding information accurate, up to date,
and clearly inclusive of the shared knowledge of all involved
Personal tools