Joy Smiley Zabala, Ed.D.

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Joy Smiley Zabala, Ed.D., is a general and special educator who has spent over 25 years conducting professional development and training for students, families, education agencies, organizations, companies, and others across the U.S.A. and abroad to expand the use of assistive technology (AT) as a means to increase the communication, participation and productivity of people with disabilities. She received her B.A. in Education from the University of Florida, her M.Ed. from Florida Atlantic University, and her Ed.D. from the University of Kentucky with an emphasis on personnel preparation using distance education tools and strategies. She holds the Assistive Technology Practitioner credential issued by the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA).

Dr. Zabala is a frequent presenter on AT decision-making, implementation, and evaluation of effectiveness. She also presents often on how Universal Design for Learning ( and AT work together as complementary supports for student achievement and has also published on the topic. She is the developer of the SETT Framework, a collaborative decision-making tool (, a founding member of the QIAT Community and facilitator of the QIAT List (, and a past-president of the Technology and Media Division (TAM) of the Council for Exceptional Children (  She currently serves on the Advisory Boards of the Family Center for Technology and Disability ( and Bookshare (

Dr. Zabala is currently the Director of Technical Assistance at CAST ( where she also directs the technical assistance efforts of the National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials ( and serves as the evaluator of the NIMAS Development Center.  From 2007 to 2009, she was the project manager of the AIM Consortium, a collaborative effort between CAST and fifteen states committed to working together to provide specialized instructional materials in a timely manner to students who require them. The AIM Center and the AIM Consortium, along with the NIMAS Development Center are funded by a grant from the Office of Special Education Programs of the U. S. Department of Education.


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