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Assistive Technology: A Guide for School Districts

As originally published by Education Management Consulting, December 1996.

By: Dr. Edward Dragan
Tel: (609) 397-8989
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Abstract:

This article reviews recent legislation and how that legislation effects compliance with student IEPs in regards to the equipment that can improve a student's ability to learn and interact with teachers, family, and friends. The article details the recommendation of devices and the school's responsibility in regards to their procurement, usage, and maintenance.

1. What is the difference between an assistive technology, device and an assistive technology service?

Answer: An assistive technology device can be simple or complex. Assistive technology devices include Velcro, adaptive clothing and toys, seating systems, powered mobility systems, augmentative Communication devices, special switches, and thousands of other commercially available or adaptive items. Common examples of assistive technology devices used in the classroom include: computer hardware, Software, and adaptations; augmentative and alternative communication systems; assistive listening systems: and classroom modifications, such as environmental controls and adaptive seating/positioning devices. These equipment solutions can improve a student's ability to learn and interact with teachers, family members, and friends.

Assistive technology services are those that ensure appropriate selection, maintenance, customization and repair of equipment; those that provide technical assistance, consumer or caregiver training, and peer counseling; and those that help fund equipment through loan, rental, lease, or purchase.

2. How should assistive technology as recommended by the TEAM be included in the IEP?

Answer: Assistive technology can be included in the IEP in the following ways: Under the Student Instructional Profile, page 2 of the IEP form is required as part of the student's special education, related services, or supplementary aids and services. Example: student uses specially lined paper when there is written work that is not done on the computer.

As a goal statement when assistive technology is needed to develop technology skills to reach other goals and instruction may be needed, Example: student will learn to use a word processing program with spelling, grammar, and punctuation checklist.

As part of a goal statement when assistive technology is needed to carry out specific goal(s). Example: student will use a cassette recorder to practice her oral language responses.

3. What is the responsibility of the local school district to ensure the delivery of the assistive technology listed on the Student's IEP?

Answer: According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and policy directives from the United States Department or Education, it is the responsibility of the local school district to provide all assistive technology written into the IEP. (See Appendix for public agencies that support the purchase or access to assistive technology devices and services.)

4. Who should be on a TEAM when assistive technology devices and services need to be considered?

Answer: Chapter 766 Regulation [[paragraph]]314.0 states that the "Administrator of Special Education shall ensure that the TEAM includes persons knowledgeable about the child, the meaning or the evaluation data, and the placement options." In addition, "...specialists who are registered, licensed, or otherwise approved by the commonwealth may be added to the TEAM." This means that if assistive technology devices or services are being considered, someone on the TEAM must be knowledgeable about assistive technology. In some cases, this will require an additional professional participating in TEAM meetings.

5. Who should evaluate a student for an assistive technology device(s) or service(s)?

. . .Continue to read rest of article (PDF).


Dr. Edward Dragan, provides education expert consultation for high-profile and complicated cases. As an educator and administrator, he has more than 35 years' experience as a teacher, principal, superintendent and director of special education. He also has served as a state department of education official.

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