Does Assistive Technology (AT) mean only expensive, high-tech or electronic products?
No. Assistive Technology (AT) includes low-tech and high-tech products that enable people with disabilities to be more productive and independent. Assistive technology includes a wide range of products, from simple to complex and inexpensive to expensive. A few examples of low-tech AT include pencil grips, tactile rulers, raised line paper, graph paper, large print text, adapted scissors, slant boards, Velcro, magnetic strips, magnifiers, highlighters, page flags, color transparencies, rubber stamps, timers, typewriter key guards, and teacher-made communication boards.
What is an Assistive Technology (AT) service?
“Assistive technology service means any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. The term includes the evaluation of the needs of a child with a disability . . . purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices . . . selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing assistive technology devices . . .coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices . . . . training or technical assistance for a child with a disability or, if appropriate, that child’s family . . . and training or technical assistance for professionals, employers, or other individual who provide services to, employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of that child.” [34 C.F.R. § 300.6] For more information on assistive technology, visit the ADE Assistive Technology webpage.
What are a school’s responsibilities when an AT device breaks, is sent out for repair, or when there is a delay while a school hopes or waits for a different funding source to pay for a device or fund a repair?
The IDEA regulations state that “[e]ach public agency must ensure that assistive technology devices or assistive technology services, or both . . . are made available to a child with a disability if required as part of the child’s” special education, related services, or supplementary aids and services. [34 C.F.R. § 300.105(a)] This means that a school cannot unduly delay the provision of an AT device while it waits or hopes for some other funding source to come through. If it is anticipated that a specific device may be funded by another source and that the funding will be delayed to the point that the student’s access to a FAPE or progress toward goals will be adversely affected, the school should consider contacting the AT Lending Library to see if borrowing the device for a period of one month is a possibility. Alternatively, the student’s IEP team should convene to determine if a different device would allow the student to access a FAPE and make progress toward IEP goals. If a communication device has been provided to the family through another agency such as DDD, the district may allow, but cannot compel, the family to send that device to school.
Do IEP teams have to consider assistive technology (AT) for every student eligible to receive special education?
Yes. The key word is “consider.” The responsibility for developing a student’s IEP rests with the IEP team, which is charged with the duty to review the strengths of the child, the concerns of the parents, the results of evaluations, and the developmental and functional needs of the child. [34 C.F.R. §300.324(a)] Further, the IEP team must consider the communication needs of the child and whether the child needs assistive technology devices/services. [Id. at subsection (a)(2)(v)] The federal regulations, at §§ 300.6(a) through (f), explain the breadth of services required of school districts as they provide for the acquisition of assistive technology devices for children with disabilities, including: the selecting, customizing, adapting, maintaining, repairing, or replacing AT devices; training or technical assistance for a child with a disability or, if appropriate, that child’s family; and training or technical assistance for professionals who provide services to the child. For more information on assistive technology, visit the ADE Assistive Technology webpage.
What is the assistive technology (AT) lending library, and who can access the 3,000+ items (devices, kits, books, communication systems, iPads, software and other materials/resources)?
The equipment inventory available through this program is available for loan to personnel from public education agencies (i.e., districts, charters, and other public schools), as defined in Arizona state statute and recognized by the Arizona Department of Education. This program is designed to provide short-term (4 weeks) loans of assistive technology and/or universal design for learning products to be used for the following purposes:
- Consideration/Assessment as part of the IEP development process or IEP recommendations
- Classroom implementation on a time limited basis
- Serve as temporary loaner during device repair or while waiting for funding
- Provide an accommodation for a student on a short-term basis
- Professional development (teacher training, skill development, etc.)
Although families are not eligible to use the ADE AT lending library, they can access a similar program provided by the Arizona Technology Access Program. Parents may borrow items from the AzTAP AT Loan program at no charge for a 2-week trial period. Families can also make appointments with AzTAP for free demonstrations of the assistive technology products it has in its inventory. For more information on assistive technology, visit the ADE Assistive Technology webpage.