University of Illinois at Chicago
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Recontextualizing the Student: Analysis of the SETT Framework for Assistive Technology in Education

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posted on 2012-12-13, 00:00 authored by Daniel P. Cochrane
The SETT Framework is used across the United States as a tool to make decisions about assistive technology for students with disabilities in K-12 education. In email list discussions, it is the model most frequently referred to by AT practitioners working the educational setting. It has also been incorporated into some state assistive technology manuals. Recently, educational blogger and doctoral student Ira David Socol proposed a re-ordering and re-labeling of the SETT Framework to better align it with an interactionist rather than a purely medical model of disability, which is identified as a social wrong. Using Fairclough’s version of Bhaskar’s explanatory critique, this study considers whether the SETT Framework poses discursive obstacles to addressing the social wrong and considers whether Socol’s version provides a way past the obstacles. Fairclough’s approach to critical discourse analysis is used to analyze the dialectical relationship between the most recent text describing the SETT Framework and the conjuncture of social practices it represents and reproduces: assistive technology and special education. Analysis of assumptions reveals a mixture of conceptualizations about the disabled student. Analysis of social actors and actions, using some of van Leeuwen’s methods, reveals a student recontextualized as mostly passive in the SETT decision-making process. This is contrasted with Socol’s version, which tries to portray the student as a decision-maker.



Politano, Patricia


Disability and Human Development

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level

  • Masters

Committee Member

Sandahl, Carrie Gabel, Susan

Submitted date



  • en

Issue date