Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Just a Click Away

Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Just a Click Away

Article excerpt

The Use of E-Signatures for School Psychologists

Despite all of the advances that have been made to seamlessly move school paperwork onto the cloud, there are still a few obstacles that get in the way of true efficiency. One of these obstacles is the need for physical signatures on many forms and documents.

There is abetter way to get signatures onto documents that is quicker and can be more secure than even traditional signatures. Electronic signatures have been available for well over a decade, though their adoption in the schools has been quite limited. This will likely change in the near future as more schools start going paperless with their school records.

The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-Sign Act) was signed into law in 2000. The E-Sign Act defined an electronic signature as, "an electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record."

The use of electronic signatures could apply to schools in a variety of ways. School psychologists could sign their reports without needlessly printing out a hard copy. Special education meetings could more easily incorporate video conferencing as members who were joining remotely could sign electronically. This could cut down on travel costs for a district and save time for professionals such as school psychologists who travel between schools.

There are several types of electronic signatures, and confusion over the different types might be why people have been reluctant to use them. At its most basic, an electronic signature can be a typed name or digitized image of a handwritten signature applied to a document. This is the most basic form and it has problems due to the difficulty of maintaining the integrity and security of the signature. It would be very easy for others to copy and paste a basic electronic signature. However, these signatures are still considered legal through the E-Sign Act.

There are several more secure types of electronic signatures. The first is a biometric signature, which requires the signer to use a fingerprint or retina scan to validate the signature. A second type is a digital signature which uses a private key or certificate to verify the signer. A third type is a signature capture device where the signer uses a tablet or signature pad to sign. These devices are often seen at grocery stores and other big box retailers. A fourth type is to use identity verification services which e-mail validation of a signature. …

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