This User Guide is geared toward assisting new members in using the features that OT Exchange has to offer. This Guide offers detailed information about all the sections on OT Exchange.
A Brief History of the Site
OT Exchange was inaugurated in February 2004. Prior to that, Deanna had a website through MSN called Deanna Savaâ€™s Website. Nikki Elbaz and Shalom Solomon approached Deanna about going into partnership with them to create a website independent of any Internet Service Provider, and she agreed. Nikki and Shalom had already come up with the site name OT Exchange before they approached Deanna.
Purpose of the Site
The purpose of OT Exchange is to provide FREE resources that would be of interest to anyone who supports children with special needs (therapists in all pediatric settings, teachers, other professionals, and parents) and their families. Some sections of the site are available to non-members, but you must be a member of the site in order to access the entire site (for example, to join in the chat room discussions and add content to the site). The good news is — membership is FREE as well.
Main Sections of OT Exchange
OT Exchange offers many types of resources, such as documents, message boards, links, announcements, online daily digest, chat room and calendar, directory, OT news, shopping links, site search, this User Guide, site map, and FAQ to name a few. In response to suggestions by readers, and based on the Website Admin. Teamâ€™s desire to improve the site, please be aware that new features are continually being added to the site.
Under this heading, users will find two sections â?OT Exchange, which brings users back to the Home page from anywhere on the site, and Deannaâ€™s Domain, which links users to Deanna’s sub site. This sub site contains Deanna’s photographs, poems, and a spirituality section. On Deanna Savaâ€™s Website, these sections could be accessed from the main site, but the OT Exchange Admin. Team decided to keep these areas on a separate sub site. However, users can toggle back and forth between OT Exchange and Deannaâ€™s Domain from either the main site or from the sub site.
Join â?This link appears under the Member heading before users are logged in.
Log in â?Users must type in the email address they provided when they joined the site, and their password. We have an auto login feature in Member Preferences (see below), and when users set that preference they donâ€™t have to type in their email address and password when they click on the log in link. When users log in, the Announcements page opens up. At the bottom of the login page, we have provided a link so users can have their password emailed to them if they have forgotten their password.
Log out â?After users are logged in (whether the preferences are set forn manual or auto log in) the â€œlog inâ?link changes to â€œlog out.â?
Preferences â?We provided three types of preference, as follows:
- Member details â?this is where members can change their name, email address, and/or password. Members can also complete minimal data for our data base.
- Message settings â?this is where members can choose to receive a daily digest of emails in their inbox, as well as notifications when other types of messages are posted (either topics and/or messages on message boards, new documents, links, or announcements).
- Site settings â?this area contains features such as auto login, date format (in line with the format used in a memberâ€™s own country), and time zone â?including when daylight savings time is turned on and off if a member’s area abides by DST.
- Donations â?this section was developed in response to members inquires about how they could make a donation to the site. Any funding from the advertisements or donations that exceeds the cost of maintaining and developing OT Exchange will be donated to a cause, and the recipient of the donation will be announced on the site. To this date, however, we have only received enough funding through these sources to cover the domain and other costs associated with maintaining the site, so we have not been able to make a donation to a cause at this time. However, that is our plan.
Main Sections Found Under the Information Heading
Following is a description of each of the main sections, which can be located under the Information heading at the top of the page. These sections are listed in the order that they appear under the Information heading:
Documents â?categories include assistive technology, checklists/evaluations, clinic-based, development, early childhood, early intervention, fine motor, hand issues, handwriting, home-based, miscellaneous, motor coordination, muscle strengthening, OT forms, school-based, self-care, sensory processing, toys/games/gifts, and visual motor.
Message boards â?this area includes the following message boards:
- General â?general discussions of interest to our members.
- Classified â?advertise job listings, items for sale, courses, post a desired position, etc. (itâ€™s free of charge, naturally, to advertise on this board).
- Survey â?post surveys of interest to the members. Among the surveys currently on the board is a survey related to addressing sensory processing in the schools that Deanna developed with two other occupational therapists.
- Research â?references related to a memberâ€™s OWN research projects.
- New products – companies that have ads on OT Exchange or who are members of the site can announce new products of interest to our members (i.e., related to supporting children with special needs and their families).
- Continuing education – post courses, resources for courses, or obtain information about continuing education courses.
Links â?Categories include assistive technology, continuing education, family resources, fun and games, listservs, miscellaneous, OT peds, retailers and suppliers, sensory, state/national associations and organizations, and vision-related.
OT News â?Both the OT Exchange Admin. Team, or any user, can add a news item to the site. News items are submitted the same way documents are submitted (click on the pink box on the OT News page that says â€œPost news itemâ?or on the link in the left-hand column that says â€œAdd itemâ?. The items will be approved by the OT Exchange Admin. Team before they appear on the site (unless the Admin. Team auto-approves a user).
Directory â?It is not mandatory that users add their names and contact information to this section. However, the directory was provided so parents, teachers, and others can locate a resource or practitioner in his/her area (or any given area), using the Directory Search feature.
Shopping links â?This section serves two purposes: 1) companies of interest to pediatric occupational therapists have paid to display an advertisement on our site. We developed this section so these advertisements would not appear on the home page. The funds from these advertisements help with the maintenance and further development of OT Exchange; 2) we thought this was a way to support companies who provide products and service for those who support children with special needs and their families.
Announcements â?The OT Exchange Admin. Team periodically posts important announcements that appear in this section, and go into every memberâ€™s inbox. Announcements older than one week go into the Archives (link is in the left-hand column of the Announcements page), sorted by month, for members to reference.
Daily digest â?This is an online daily digest feature, separate from the preference where users can receive a daily digest of messages in their inbox. It summarizes all types of messages and announcements that have been added to the site. Using the previous and next buttons, users can also scroll through the site for content that was already added. Using the â€œjump toâ?feature, users can also quickly jump to a specific date.
Chat Room and Calendar
Any member can access the chat room, but it is currently only being utilized for an online study group that Deanna facilitates for pediatric occupational therapists and certified occupational therapy assistants. The group typically â€œmeetsâ?the 2nd Wednesday of every month for a general chat, and the 4th Wednesday of every month for a discussion around a specific topic. The â€œmeetingâ?usually begins at 8:00 p.m. U.S. Central Time, and lasts at least for one- and one-half hours. Participation in this study group is eligible for National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc. (NBCOT) continuing competency credits if a therapist chooses to pursue this.
A link called Calendar is also under the Chat heading. This link brings up a calendar of the study group discussions (users have to click on the link within the calendar date to see the specific topic for that night). By setting the preferences in Member Preferences, the times for the chat discussions will appear in the users own time zone (after the user has logged onto the site).
This section can be found under the Search heading at the top of the page. There are two links under the Search heading: Site and Directory.
Site search – this section allows users to do a search through the entire site. Users can choose the areas they want to search through based on keywords, set the time frame for a search (including a specific date range), and sort from â€œnewest firstâ?or â€œoldest first.â?
Directory search – this section allows users to search for specific individuals who are listed in the Directory.
There are various sections listed under this heading. They are described in the order that they appear under the heading:
About â?This page provides general information about the site.
History â?This page provides a brief history of the development of OT Exchange.
Credits â?This page gives a brief description of the site developers, as a way to â€œintroducesâ?ourselves to members and visitors.
Site map â?This is a very convenient tool for users. The site map gives users a broad overview of the sections of the site. Users can link to any place on the site with the site map (as well as using the links in the top menu â?headings at the top of the page â?from any section of the site). As you can see, we like to give users lots of options!
User guide – The link for this User Guide is under the Help heading at the top of the page.
FAQ â?This is a very important area of the site. We have provided very comprehensive information related to using the site. Users might find answers to many of their questions or issues in this section.
We tried to make it easy for users to contact us with any questions, problems, comments or suggestions by creating a separate heading at the top of the page called Contact. From this section, users can link to the FAQ section; users can submit content to the site such as documents and links; and users can even post topics and respond to topics on the message boards. Specific links were provided on the Contact page to submit content to the site. These links take users to the appropriate area of the site to add content.