Assistive Technology FAQ
What is assistive technology?
IDEA 2004 defines Assistive Technology (AT) as "any item, piece of equipment, or product system -- whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified or customized -- that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of students with disabilities." This definition of AT is broad and it should be noted that the word “technology” does not imply a requirement for electronic components. AT encompasses a range of tools from low tech supports (ex. communication book) to higher technology tools (ex. AAC devices that are accessible via eye gaze).
IDEA 2004 defines "AT Service" as including:
- Evaluating student needs for AT;
- Purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for AT devices for children with disabilities;
- Selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, retaining, repairing, or replacing AT devices;
- Coordinating and using AT devices in therapies, interventions, or services;
- Training or technical assistance for a child with a disability or their family;
- Training or technical assistance for professionals, or other individuals who provide services to the student
What is the IEP team required to do at an IEP meeting regarding assistive technology?
IDEA 2004 states that AT must be considered as part of the development, review, and revision of a student's IEP and determinant in considering Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Consideration must address the student’s need to access curriculum and specifically designed instruction and goals. This typically happens when reviewing the "Special Factors" of an IEP.
Does every student on an IEP require assistive technology?
No. Although the need for AT must be considered for every student on an IEP, consideration does not imply a mandate for the provision of AT for every child with a disability. For example, if a student’s performance is functional in relationship to curriculum and goals, the consideration should be brief and consensus should be reached relatively quickly.
I think a student I work with or my child could benefit from AT! What do I do next?
Any member of an IEP team including a parent may request an AT evaluation or support. A building case manager or SLP may initiate support for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to:
- Staff training on AT tools, devices, and supports
- Suggestions or brainstorming of embedding AT tools in the school curriculum or routines,
- Technical support and troubleshooting for student or school-owned devices.
- Inviting the AT Specialist to IEP meetings in which the team believes a detailed conversation of AT consideration will occur.
- Supporting the team with an assistive technology trial of a specific tool
- Conducting a full-assessment/SETT meeting because a student's needs are complex.
What is the AT assessment process?
An AT assessment is a more formal evaluation process that may include the following: a preplanning Student Environment Task Tools (SETT) meeting, student file review, observation of the student, staff/teacher parent interviews, evaluation of the student through trial use of various assistive technologies, training, data collection, a post assessment meeting that involves sharing an assessment report with the IEP team and possibly additional follow up SETT meetings. Signed consent from a parent is needed to begin this process. AT Assessments are typically reserved for students with complex needs and require input and training from many team members such as PTs, OTs, SLPs and other specialists. (ex. assessing communication devices for a student who is nonverbal, and orthopedically/visually impaired). The AT Specialist typically leads the AT Assessment process but there may be a few instances in which another team member is the lead.
Does every student considered for AT require an assistive technology assessment?
No. Most investigations of AT can be completed through the trial/consultation process rather than a formal assessment.
How Can I Learn More About Assistive Technology?
Ken Allen and Michal Rubin, the district AT Specialists, maintain a google sites webpage with new and useful information about the exciting world of AT. Check it out!