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Functional Resources was formed in 1983 as a limited partnership among the authors of the FSSI.  In 1991 it was registered as a business in Amarillo, Texas and continues to provide materials, instruction, and software from the Amarillo office.  There is also an office in Austin, Texas where research and demonstration are conducted.  The FSSI is a unique instrument.  Its roots go back to efforts to address the assessment needs of the population of individuals affected by the rubella epidemic of the mid-1960s.  The first effort in trying to develop appropriate assessment devices led to the construction of the Callier-Azusa Scale as part of the program for individuals who are deaf-blind at the Callier Center for Communication Disorders.   The Callier-Azusa was a Piagetian influenced developmental scale that targeted assessment of children who performed below existing developmental scales.  The scales came from many sources and the Callier-Azusa Scale has had a long run as a respected assessment device. However, the Callier-Azusa Scale did not address development beyond the pre-operational period of development as defined by Piaget and his colleagues.  There was a need to have another scale that focused on assessing individuals who were deaf-blind, blind-multihandicapped, deaf-multihandicapped, or who had multiple problems that usual assessments did not address.  Most standardized tests do  not include individuals with deaf-blind conditions, blind-multihandicapped, or deaf-multihandicapped in their normative population.  Therefore results from these normative measures show deficits but do little to provide new information about the abilities of the person who is multiply involved, has major sensory losses, and who presents with levels of problems in regard to services

There were two groups that started to address the problem of assessing individuals who were deaf-blind, blind-multihandicapped, deaf-multihandicapped, or having major complex conditions. One group was in Austin, coordinated by Sally Schur, Ph.D. and Heather Becker, Ph.D. and another group in Dallas, coordinated by Ed Hammer, Ph.D.

The two groups worked together and resolved many issues of how to develop a working assessment.  The central theme of their effort was to go to providers of services and ask them to tell what success was in their program.  How does a program know when a person has completed that program and when that person is successful?  Often success is measured in years or ages, in other situations success is attained as long as funding is present.  Still other programs had specific things they wanted to person to achieve and these were considered measures of success. Another theme of the effort to develop an appropriate assessment for the identified population was to move away from the deficit model (that is showing what the person could not do) to an abilities model (showing what the person could do).  This led to analysis of tasks of basic life skills and identification of steps along a continuum of skills that could be used to establish a baseline, serve as a criterion measure, and monitor change over time. The decision was made to compare the individual to self over time making the scale an ipsalateral measure with the subject serving as her own control sample.

The next historical milestone was the structuring of the assessment along two variables. This provides the parameters under which the assessment functions.  What are the two most important achievements for a person?  What is the goal of education and training? Why is an individual with disabilities provided services?  What outcome could be expected as the result of services?  These global issues were addressed by defining two variables that served as the basis of the FSSI:

To what extent is the individual able to live in the community?

To what extent is the individual able to work?

These two outcomes are really the reason for ALL education, whether kindergarten or a doctoral program or a classroom for children who are deaf-blind.  Education prepares the person to work.  In the FSSI work has been re-defined along a continuum from self-care (which is a form of self-employment) to competitive employment.  During the time the FSSI has been used, work has been redefined with many new concepts: occupation of time, self-determination, self-help, job share, supported employment, etc.  These concepts and opportunities continue to be defined by the field and luckily the FSSI fits into that movement of work being the productive use of time.

Living in the community as used in the FSSI has also been expanded since the introduction of the measure in 1984.  The most recent change in the concept of community living is the Olmstead case where the Supreme Court of the United States agreed that the needs of the individual determines how and where services will be provided, not state plans or tradition.

Community living now involves more group home, more in-home family services, interveners, natural support systems, and living facilities specifically designed for a variety of uses (short term training, respite, family support, etc.).



The FSSI may be used at critical when questions of living in the community become central to assessment and programming such as in transition planning.  The FSSI is an excellent measure for schools and vocational rehabilitation to use as a common instrument to communicate the levels of function a person has achieved and is working on in programs.   The FSSI can be started as early as elementary school as a planning measure to assay the skills needed to be successful in transitioning from school to work (with work defined along the continuum of occupation of time and productivity).  The effectiveness of using the FSSI with difficult-to-serve populations to match education with rehabilitation through planned transition was shown in an excellent article (see Monitoring and tracking clients and helpers (M.A.T.C.H.): A system for matching students with disabilities with adult services. Washington, D.C.: Journal for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired, 1987, XIX,2, 53-64.).



Where is the FSSI going in the future?  Great effort has been made since 1975 when comprehensive services were required for children with disabilities.  One of the major activities has been the assessment of individuals with disabilities.  By law, children are assessed repeatedly on a cycle of 3 years (in some instance more often) and educational and rehabilitation planning is tied to assessment results.  The next trend is to evaluate environments where students are placed.  Too often, it seems, elaborate evaluations are conducted and the placement is exactly what would have been if no evaluations were completed.  The law, court cases, and professional standards require that environments be matched to the needs of the student/client, not vice versa.  The FSSI is now used to develop a profile of environments (classrooms, job sites, work stations, etc.).  These measures are now in print editions with computer software that is DOS based.  New editions of the FSSI Environmental Edition and Training Edition will be done in the near future.  This allows for jobs to be profiled to show what skills are needed to be successful on that particular job.  This program also allows for comparisons to be made between the profile of the individual (on the FSSI) and the profile of the job (on the FSSI) to show matches in skills/requirements, baseline/proficiency, and where modifications are needed in the job or in the individual before successful placement may be assumed.  This also allows for classrooms to be inventoried to show exactly what activities comprise the current schedule of the day in a classroom.  From this it will be possible to modify the classroom to receive the student by comparing the profile of the classroom (using the FSSI) to the profile of the student (using the FSSI).


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