The findings of this study are organized around several different outcomes and possible impacts of ACETS: (a) the degree to which ACETS improved employment-related skills in four areas (Job Hunting, Managing Work with a Disability, Communication Skills, and Information Technology Skills) and (b) online employment development and job search outcomes.
Direct instruction in the use of participants' communication device did not occur during ACETS because a prerequisite for participation in the program was mastery of one's communication system.
Basic computer skills, word processing and e-mail showed no improvement, because they were high at the start of ACETS.
All six participants remained active in the program throughout the year of ACETS, working to expand their job opportunities and job-related skills.
Second, because the authors did not employ a controlled experimental design, it was difficult to truly sort out the "natural" acquisition of skills over time versus the direct impact of ACETS on skill improvement.
As seen from the mean scores on the ACETS Employment Survey, prior to coming to ACETS participants saw themselves as having limited skills in areas that we know are crucial for employment.
With some support from ACETS staff, they were expected to arrange their own transportation for meetings and to hire their own personal assistants.
Lastly, via e-coaching and online follow-up support, ACETS was able to build a community of people who use AAC across the nation who could support and offer technical assistance to each other in their employment efforts.
Even with more intense training and supports than was provided through ACETS, a year may be too short a time to develop both the "hard" and "soft" skills needed for successful employment.
In fact, when asked, "When did someone first ask you what you wanted to be when you grew up," all six ACETS participants replied that "no one ever asked me" Schools must do a much better job in providing the education, training, experiences and expectation needed for school to work success.
These types of technologies appeared to be effective for maintaining the participants' motivation, keeping participants focused on their goals, providing feedback, and remaining in contact with ACETS staff despite large geographical distance.
ACETS has provided one such approach and some promising findings that can aid in constructing and implementing an effective means of improving the employment outcomes of people who use AAC.