Director of Technical Assistance, CAST and National AIM Center
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Dr. Zabala is general and special educator who is a pioneer in assistive technology and accessible instructional materials. In the 1980s—after many years as a distinguished general educator in schools in Georgia, Florida, and Caracas, Venezuela—she began exploring ways to use technology to extend learning opportunities to all students, including those with disabilities. As a technologist, special educator, and teacher trainer, Dr. Zabala earned international recognition for her work and is a presenter of training for educators and families.
Dr. Zabala is the Director of Technical Assistance for CAST and for the National Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) Center. The National AIM Center is funded by the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education and is charged with working with state education agencies, local education agencies and other stakeholders to develop effective systems to speed the delivery of high-quality accessible instructional materials to students with print disabilities. She brings rich experience to this position having served as the Project Manager of the AIM Consortium, a 15-state federally-funded project also led by CAST (2007-2009) and charged with improving the quality, availability, and timely delivery of accessible instructional materials to K-12 students with print disabilities. In addition to directing technical assistance for the AIM Center, she will be overseeing both formative and summative evaluations for both the National AIM Center and the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) Center with support from an external evaluator.She is also developer of the SETT Framework, a concerns identification and solution seeking tool that helps collaborative teams of educators, families and students select, develop, and use a variety of solutions to support the communication, participation, and achievement of students with disabilities. Dr. Zabala is a founding member of the QIAT Community of AT professionals and facilitator of the QIAT List. She is also a past-president and current secretary of the Technology and Media Division (TAM) of the Council for Exceptional Children.
Dr. Zabala received her Bachelors degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education from the University of Florida, her Masters in Curriculum and Instruction in Early Childhood Education from Florida Atlantic University, and her Doctorate in Special Education Personnel Preparation from the University of Kentucky. She is a strong supporter of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Assistive Technology as complementary supports for student achievement.