The ATECH team wishes to express our deep sadness at the passing of Dr. Joy Smiley Zabala, a pioneer and shining star in the Assistive Technology field. We extend our condolences to her family, friends, and share the loss being experienced by all her many colleagues.

Joy was a leading expert in AT as well as an experienced educator and provider of technical assistance and professional development. Joy developed the SETT Framework model for assistive technology, used around the world to establish collaborative decision-making in all phases of assistive technology service design and delivery. She is equally renowned for her work in Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

Joy’s deep knowledge and understanding gave her immense skill in working with educators and families, as well as with professionals and organizations related to accessible technology and assistive technology. Her strong devotion to both community and social services was evident in all her work. Her wonderful and warm personality made her approachable and an esteemed colleague and mentor to many.

For many years Joy worked at CAST, serving in several different positions including as Senior Technical Assistance Advisor and Director of Technical Assistance. Joy also held positions as the Co-Director of the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials, Director of Technical Assistance for the AIM Consortium and the National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials, as well as serving on numerous Boards for many related nonprofit organizations. Joy was also a founding member of the QIAT Community and instrumental in developing the QIAT List.

Joy’s passion for life, her work, her music, and her family will always be remembered with a smile by those who knew her. We at the ATECH family send much love and our sincere condolences to the Smiley and Zabala families.


For more timely articles on Assistive Technology, visit our News & Events page.