According to federal regulations each public agency must ensure that an assistive technology device and or an assistive technology service is made available to a student with a disability if such device or service is required as a part of the student's IEP. All ARD/IEP Committees are required by federal regulation CFR 300.324(a)(2)(v) to consider the student's need for assistive technology (AT) devices and services in the development of the IEP. This does not mean that the AT needs of a child with a disability must be considered in every ARD/IEP Committee meeting, but it does means that the AT needs of a child with a disability must be considered every time the IEP is being developed.
The first step in considering a student's need for assistive technology is to understand that assistive technology is defined under federal and state legislation as both a device and a service.
Assistive technology device means any item, piece of high and low technology equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities or increase the independence of a student with a disability so that he or she can participate more fully in all settings. On a case-by-case basis, the use of a school-purchased assistive technology device in a student's home or in other settings is required if the ARD/IEP Committee determines that the student needs access to those devices in order to receive FAPE. The term, assistive technology, does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted or the replacement of such device.
Assistive technology service means any service that directly assists a student with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. The term includes:
- evaluating the needs of a student with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the student in the student's customary environment;
- purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by children/adult students with disabilities;
- 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, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs;
- training or technical assistance for a student with a disability or, if appropriate, that student's family; and
- training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals providing education or rehabilitation services), employers, or other individuals who provide services to, employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of that student.
Assistive technology devices and services are provided when necessary to assist a student with a disability to participate in and benefit from his/her educational program. The process of determining if a student requires assistive technology to participate in and benefit from instruction, begins with the ARD/IEP Committee or the campus-based special education team supporting the student at school. This committee should:
- review the student's present levels of performance and evaluation data to determine if there are any areas where the student needs additional support in order to access and progress in the curriculum.
- develop functional and/or instructional goals and objectives addressing any areas of need that were identified in step one.
- determine if any tasks that would be required to achieve the goals and objectives identified in step two are difficult or impossible for the student to complete.
- decide whether AT devices and/or services are needed to assist the student to complete any tasks that were identified in step three.
As a result of this consideration process, the ARD/IEP committee may decide:
- AT is needed for the student to receive FAPE and the ARD/IEP committee knows the specific AT devices and/or services that the student requires. These devices and/or services are documented in the student's IEP. The ARD/IEP Committee or campus-based special education team should identify and document on the IEP any equipment and/or product systems that are used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of the student at school.
- AT is not needed at this time. The student is anticipated to progress in the educational program with the current supports and services provided either through general education or special education and related services. The ARD/IEP Committee must ensure that a student has access to technology available school-wide or in the student's classrooms (e.g. computer keyboard or mouse, felt pens, rubber grip pencils or pens) and if these are sufficient for the student to receive FAPE.
- more information is needed. In considering the student's need for AT, the ARD/IEP Committee identified tasks that were too difficult or impossible for the student to complete and determined that the student may require additional AT supports in order to complete these tasks. The ARD/IEP committee identified the specific information that is needed at this time to further address the student's need for AT.
Adapted from The Texas 4-Step Model: Considering Assistive Technology in the IEP Process (2009).
What We Do
A request for special education services for assistive technology (AT) is the procedure any campus in the Ore City ISD uses to initiate a request for an assistive technology service. This process provides a means for a campus to readily access the input of the assigned AT Team Member that can address the student's area of need. AT Team Members are qualified professionals who are certified Assistive Technology Professionals (ATP), or who have received additional professional development in the area of AT. This service is not evaluation, but may lead to an evaluation if a need is identified as a result of the technical assistance or consultation process or if a parent of a student with a disability, as a participant in this process, requests to move into an evaluation.
A request for AT service is typically initiated for one of the following reasons:
- in considering a student's need for AT in the development of an individualized education program (IEP), the IEP team needs more information to complete the consideration process.
- in attempting to implement the recommendations of an AT evaluation, an IEP team member needs additional training.
- an IEP team member identifies a concern for a student's progress in the goals and/or objectives that include the use of an AT device.
- Transfer Student - A student transfers into the Katy ISD from another school district or other instructional setting with an AT device documented in the student's IEP developed in the previous instructional setting.
To request an AT service, the IEP team member submits the Request for Special Education Services form and indicates a technical assist, consult/evaluation, or evaluation. The IEP team member should also indicate if it is in the area of: communication, written expression, and/or access.
By involving the appropriate Assistive Technology team member assigned to that campus in the initial technical assist process that includes the area of need that has been identified, the ARD/IEP committee receives more specific direction on how to proceed in the most efficient manner to appropriately address the needs of the student. This initial technical assist for AT will include information gained from the following:
- classroom teacher and support staff if applicable, and parent if indicated
- student produced work samples collected by the classroom teacher(s)
The process may also include:
- review of the student's present level of academic achievement and functional performance,
- observation of the environment(s) where the educational concern is presented.
Upon completion of the initial technical assist by the assigned Assistive Technology team member, one of the following will be determined:
- No additional support is indicated:
- The qualified AT team member will provide a written summary using the Request for Special Education Services form from the initial request. This summary is to be reviewed by the ARD/IEP committee in the next scheduled ARD/IEP committee meeting. The AT team member will verbally review the response to the technical assist with the classroom teacher and campus diagnostician submitting the request upon completion of the response.
- If further service is indicated:
- The ARD committee should conduct a Review of Existing Evaluation Data (REED) and formerly request an assistive technology evaluation and submit along with the signed parent consent and the Request for Special Education Services form to the Assistive Technology Team Leader.
The evaluation of a student to determine the student's need for an AT device may be requested or initiated by one of the following means:
- result of an AT technical assist by an AT team member there is a recommendation for an AT evaluation,
- ARD/IEP Committee with the input of the AT team member determines an educational concern necessitating the AT evaluation,
- student moves into the district with documentation identifying the student as having been supported with an AT device as a part of their previous IEP and no current evaluation report is provided by the previous school district within 30 calendar days, or
- AT evaluation for a student currently supported with an AT device at school is approaching three years old.
The recommendations for supports made from the assistive technology evaluation may include:
- instructional modifications or accommodations
- instructional strategies
- assistive technology devices
The recommendations are implemented by the campus team supporting the student. Assistive technology team members will provide training for campus teams at the request of the campus. Assistive technology devices are provided through the Office of Special Education Services. Recommendations for assistive technology devices include to the greatest extent possible a range of supports including no tech and low tech supports to provide backup supports for the student when more advanced technology resources may be inoperable or inaccessible.
Assistive Technology in the IEP
When assistive technology is considered in the ARD/IEP process and determined to be necessary for the student to receive FAPE, the ARD/IEP Committee can provide the assistive technology as:
- Part of special education
- When assistive technology is provided as a part of the special education services a child receives, it is included as a condition to at least one of the child's instructional objectives demonstrating the need for this device to support the student to receive FAPE. It is implemented by the classroom personnel.
- A related service
- A supplementary aids and services
- When assistive technology is provided as supplementary aids and services, it is identified as an accommodation the student uses to access the curriculum demonstrating the need for the device/service in order for the student to receive FAPE. It is implemented by the classroom personnel.