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 students 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 care giver 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 if required as part of the students 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 students IEP?
Answer: According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and policy directives from the United States Department of 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 of 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)?
Answer: According to the IDEA, a student must be evaluated by a qualified professional who is knowledgeable in assistive technology. For example, if the students speech and hearing are being evaluated, a speech-language pathologist and a pediatric audiologist are considered qualified professionals. Chapter 766 Regulations [[paragraph]]320.2(a) states that "the child shall be assessed in all areas related to the childs suspected need for special education and related services."
6. Must the school district assume financial responsibility for the purchase of assistive technology devices and services if listed in the IEP?
Answer: Yes. The school district must assume financial responsibility for purchase of assistive technology devices and services unless the cost is covered by third party benefits or insurance coverage and the parents agree to use such coverage to pay the cost, or a donation to the school district is made. A students parents cannot be required to assume the cost.
7. If a student requires a hearing aid, is the school district required to provide it if the device is listed in the IEP?
Answer: Yes. A hearing aid is considered a covered device under the definition of "assistive technology device." Thus, if a students IEP specifies a hearing aid, the school district is responsible for providing it at no cost to the student and his/her parents.
8. Is a school district obligated to allow a student to bring an assistive technology device home?
Answer: Under some circumstances. An assistive technology device may be taken home at night, on weekends, or over the summer if the use in other settings is included in the IEP. A decision as to whether a student may use a device or service in settings other than the school, e.g., home, community, must be made on an individual basis. Furthermore, a school district may need to provide a second device for use at home if transporting the device is impractical.
9. Is a school district responsible for retaining, repairing or replacing assistive technology devices?
Answer: If purchased or secured by the school district, then the school district should retain, repair, or replace assistive technology devices. It is suggested that the special education administrator or his/her designed examine all warranties and contracts that may accompany specific devices. Additionally, if the students family has provided an assistive technology device that the TEAM has identified as necessary for the provision of a free appropriate education and has included in the IEP, then the school district, with the agreement of the family, may use the device at school and is responsible to repair or replace the device if necessary. (See also question #11.)
10. What is the responsibility of a school district if a given device is no longer available for purposes of implementing a students IEP?
Answer: A school district is responsible for either continuing to implement the students IEP by providing a substitute device, or for reconvening the TEAM for the purpose of reviewing the students IEP, and if appropriate, amending its provisions.
11. What is the responsibility of a school district when parents elect to purchase a needed device on their own and the family-owned device is written into the IEP?
Answer: Federal law is silent on this issue. However, it is reasonable to expect a school district to assume liability for an assistive technology device that is family-owned, but used to implement a students IEP, either in school or at home. In the absence of the family assuming financial responsibility, a school district would be required to provide and maintain a needed assistive device that was written into the IEP. (See also question #9.) In circumstances where the family has provided the original device, the Department recommends that school districts clarify in their agreements with the family whether the family retains ownership of the device in the case of replacement.
12. If a TEAM recommends an assistive technology assessment and the assessment takes place after the TEAM meeting, what is the responsibility of the school district?
Answer: The school district must reconvene the TEAM to discuss assessment results. Depending on the TEAM decision, a new IEP or an amendment to the IEP may need to be developed.
13. Under Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, is a school district required to provide assistive technology devices?
Answer: Independent of special education law and regulation, Section 504 applies to students who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity such as caring for oneself or performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, or working. Depending upon the students individual needs, and if the student is "an individual with handicaps," a school district may be required to provide adaptive equipment or assistive technology devices.