Lakeville Area Public Schools offers resources for families who are considering Assistive Technology (AT) in the Individualized Education Plan (IEP). As outlined in IDEA 97 (34 C.F.R. 300.346), it is mandated that all students with an IEP must be considered for assistive technology. To provide a free, appropriate, public education, the IEP team must consider if AT is needed for the student to meet IEP goals and objectives.
Our district understands the federal requirements for assistive technology and strives to exceed these requirements by implementing best practices for quality assistive technology services. In order to ensure best practices for assistive technology services, our district follows the “Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology Services” guidelines developed by the Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology (QIAT) Consortium.
Frequently Asked Questions
What exactly is AT?
The definition of AT includes AT devices and AT services: Assistive Technology Device – the term “assistive technology device” means 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 functional capabilities of a child with a disability. Assistive Technology Service – the term “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.
Why do I need to know about AT?
All students with an IEP must be considered for assistive technology. To provide a free, appropriate, public education, the IEP team must consider if AT is needed for the student to meet goals and objectives. It is best practice to document in the student’s IEP that AT was considered.
What is meant by “consideration” when discussing AT?
“Consideration” is a process and should not be confused with “assessment”. Simply put, consideration is a relatively short process in which IEP team members use information analysis and critical decision making to determine student needs for AT.
Who provides consideration for AT?
The IEP team provides consideration of students with disabilities. In the event a team concludes they do not have enough information, they are still required to seek assistance to ensure that informed consideration had occurred.
What are the conclusions an IEP team could make in regard to AT?
- AT is not needed. The student is making adequate progress through task modification, skill remediation or other interventions.
- AT is needed, and is successfully being used. In this case, it is appropriate to state in the IEP that particular AT services and devices have been found to be effective to assure that they are available to the student.
- AT may be needed, but the IEP team is unsure what service or device would meet the student’s needs. The team may decide that new AT should be tried and additional data be collected to determine what an appropriate service or product might be.
- The team is unsure what AT is, and so must find resources in order to make an informed decision regarding consideration. These resources can be from within the school district or, if there are no resources available, from an outside agency.
Must every student with a disability be assessed for AT?
No-but AT must be considered for every student with a disability. If the IEP team determines that there is a need for an assistive technology assessment, that must occur as well.
What is the school’s responsibility for providing AT?
It is the policy of the U.S. Department of “Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) that schools must provide AT services and products necessary for a student to receive a free, appropriate, public education. These services and products should be described in the student’s IEP as special education, a related service, supplementary aid or service or accommodation to testing.
Are schools required to pay for assistive technology services and products?
Not necessarily. Schools have the responsibility to provide the services and products that are included in the IEP. However, the school may utilize a variety of funding mechanisms to pay for them. Special education personnel are encouraged to learn about the various Minnesota resources for helping with funding for AT as needed.
What are schools’ responsibilities for customization, repair, maintenance, or replacement of AT devices included in the IEP?
Schools are responsible to provide these services in order for a student to receive FAPE. This includes the repair, maintenance or replacement of a privately owned device that is included in the IEP.
Can students take school owned AT devices home on school nights, over weekends, breaks or over the summer?
This is determined by the IEP team on a case-by-case basis if the device is required at home for a student to receive FAPE (e.g. do homework, study spelling, etc.). It would be prudent to have procedures or policies in place which outline responsibility regarding installation of software, charging the device, how it is transported, limits on use (e.g. can the device be used for recreational internet use?), etc.
I think my student needs a laptop OR a parent has requested a laptop for their child. What should I do?
There are a couple of questions to ask yourself here. What need does the student have that can only be met using a laptop? The SETT process is a tool that would help you do a feature match of assistive technology to match student need with necessary features. Another factor to consider is need versus a nice thing to have. Almost every student could benefit from having their own laptop but not many students NEED a laptop to meet their goals and objectives.
My student is moving to a different school in the district. What do I do with their assistive technology?
Assistive Technology that is written into an IEP and purchased for a student to meet a need is to follow that student for the duration of the need. Whether a student is moving from elementary to middle school or from middle school to high school their assistive technology moves with them. Assistive Technology purchased for a student should be inventoried and labeled. When a student graduates, no longer needs special education services or no longer needs the assistive technology to meet a need, the assistive technology is returned to the AT library and is made available to trial or is assigned to a new student.