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1 Woodburn School District Special Education Manual-Assistive Technology 12/10/10 Introduction Assistive technology devices and services are a means of insuring that children with disabilities are able to access their free and appropriate public education (FAPE). IEP teams are required to consider if a student needs assistive technology (AT) devices or services. If the team determines that the student needs an AT device or services, it is included in the IEP and the school district has to ensure that device or service is provided. Augmentative Communication is a type of AT, but will be discussed separately because of it s unique requirements. What Are The Legal Requirements For Assistive Technology? Part B of the IDEA states that the IEP team shall "consider whether the child needs assistive technology devices and services." i In addition, the assistive technology act of 2004 states that assistive technology services and devices are used to maximize accessibility for children with disabilities. Assistive Technology Device: ii 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 the functional capabilities of a child with a disability. The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of such device. This definition is very broad and can include anything from a pencil grip to an electronic augmentative communication system. Basic Categories of AT devices: 1. Low tech tools: basically things that don't require electricity. These can include slant boards, pencil grips, footrests, pictures and symbols. 2. Mid-tech tools: these can include switches, environmental control, static display communication devices, or portable word processors. 3. High-tech tools: these tools are more complex than the previous categories and can include computers, software, communication devices with dynamic displays, etc. 1

2 Assistive Technology Service iii : 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. This includes: a. The evaluation of the needs of a child with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the child in the child s customary environment; b. Purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by children with disabilities; c. Selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing assistive technology devices; d. Coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs; e. Training or technical assistance for a child with a disability or, if appropriate, that child s family; and f. 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 child. Examples Of AT Services: 1. Evaluating a student to determine if an AT device would help improve their ability to access their education. 2. Working with the student s IEP team to determine how to implement using an AT device for writing. 3. Modifying a computer so that a disabled student can access it. 4. Programming an augmentative communication device so the student can use it across different environments. Documenting AT Devices And/Or Services On The IEP: IDEA requires us to consider whether the child needs assistive technology devices and services. This doesn t necessarily mean that an evaluation needs to be performed. Consider means that some discussion and examination of AT options took place at the IEP meeting. From that discussion there are four possible outcomes: 1. The student s current interventions are working and no assistive technology is needed. 2. AT is already being used and is working fine. 3. The student requires some trials of new types of AT devices which may require an AT consultation. 4. The team needs more information to make a decision and the student will require an AT evaluation. If the student needs an augmentative communication (AC) evaluation, see How do I refer for an AC 2

3 evaluation below. Because an accommodation is whatever the special education student requires to ensure FAPE, assistive technology devices, should be documented in the Supplementary Aids/Services; Modification; Accommodations section of the IEP service summary. Only an AT or AC evaluation should be listed under related service. Writing Goals For Students Using AT Devices: If the student is using assistive technology devices or is starting a trial of AT, try not to include the devices in IEP goals. Goals should describe the educational or functional outcome that the student produces, not the method the student uses to achieve them. Consulting with a Teacher on Using AT to Help a Student Meet Their IEP Goals: A student needs assistive technology when that student is struggling to meet educational goals iv. If the teacher requires assistance determining if AT would benefit the student, the teacher can request an AT consultation from the districts A-Team. The AT consultant will meet with the teacher to review the IEP goals, discuss the difficulties that have occurred, and what has already been tried to improve the student s performance on their IEP goals. If the AT consultant requires additional information, including student observations, to make recommendations, he or she will assist the teacher to request an AT evaluation. Evaluating A Student For AT Devices Or Services: Who can perform an AT evaluation? Special educators and related service providers such as Occupational Therapists (OT), Physical Therapists (PT) and Speech Language Pathologists (SLP) may be qualified to provide AT evaluations. The IEP team reviewing the evaluation should include people who are knowledgeable about the student, about the curriculum, about language (if there are communication concerns), about motor (if there are mobility, or fine motor concerns). The team will also need to include an administrator who can authorize uses of school district resources. How do I refer a student for an AT evaluation? Fill out the Request for Assistive Technology Consultation form and submit it to the special education director. The information on this form is vital and will help the director determine which service provider to contact to perform the consultation. How do I refer a student for an augmentative communication (AC) evaluation from WESD? WESD requires that the Augmentative Communication Checklist be filled out before an AC evaluation 3

4 can be provided. If you determine that a student is able to perform all items on the checklist that student can be referred for an AC evaluation. Fill out a referral form and send it, along with the checklist, to the special education director. After the special education director has approved the referral form, consent for the AC evaluation can be obtained from the parent. Because of their background and training, the building speech language pathologist (SLP) should help manage this part of the special education process. The evaluation period is 60 school days, like those of all special education evaluations. When is the cut off date each school year for referral for an AT evaluation? (FOR JENNIFER) We need to set a cut off date, probably in April or May. Additional Questions: Do you have to consider AT when an IEP is reviewed or changed? Yes, the IEP team must reconsider the special factors, including assistive technology, when reviewing the IEP. v If we list an AT device on the IEP will our district have to pay for it? If the student s family has the AT device, and will allow it to be used at school, the district will not have to provide it (see further discussion below). Otherwise, the district will need to provide the device either by borrowing, renting or purchasing it. What if the device the student requires is expensive? If the student requires the device to receive FAPE, the device must be provided regardless of cost. The district cannot reactively deny assistive technology based on the cost of the device. However, this does not mean that a less expensive alternative that achieves the same result cannot be used. Who owns an AT device when the district or ESD purchases it? The assistive technology device belongs to the agency that purchased it. If the student changes districts, it does not go with him or her. The exception would be if the device belongs to the ESD, and the student moves to a district that is also served by that ESD. Can we use outside funding to pay for AT? Yes, there are no restrictions in the IDEA to prevent a district from using outside funding to purchase assistive technology. Can an AT device go home with the student? The district cannot refuse to let students use assistive technology devices at home if it is required to implement the IEP. The IDEA states that on a case-by- 4

5 case basis, the use of school purchased assistive technology devices in a child s home or in other settings is required, if the child s IEP team determines that the child needs access to those devices in order to receive FAPE. vi What do we do if the parent already has recommendations for AT from an outside evaluator like a speech therapist or hospital that the IEP team doesn't agree with? According to the IDEA, school districts are not required to implement all recommendations provided by an independent evaluator vii. If the parent obtains an independent educational evaluation at public expense or shares with the public agency an evaluation obtained at private expense, the results of the evaluation must be considered by the public agency, if it meets agency criteria, in any decision made with respect to the provision of FAPE to the child. If the IEP team can show using appropriate procedures for evaluation, IEP development, and placement, that the student does not require the recommended assistive technology to receive FAPE, then the district does not have to provide the AT. If the family owns the AT device needed for the students IEP and it breaks do we need to pay to have it repaired if the family can't? If the family owned device becomes unavailable, the district must continue to implement the IEP by providing a substitute device, or by reviewing the IEP with all team members to determine if the device is still needed. In some cases the district may choose to pay for the repair of the device because it continues to be needed to fulfill the IEP. Can Assistive Technology be used during State-Wide Testing? The state of Oregon has published the Oregon Accommodations Manual that details how to select, administer, and evaluate accommodations for Oregon s statewide assessments. The manual can be downloaded from the ODE web site: If students need accessible instructional material (AIM) how do we make sure they have access to them? Accessible instructional materials are needed for students who are blind or students who cannot hold a book or turn its pages or cannot decode the text or cannot comprehend the syntax. For those students accessible formats including Braille, large print, books on tape, or electronic books may be needed. The Center for Accessible Instructional Materials (CAST) has an AIM Navigator that can help you determine if your student needs these materials. The Navigator is found at: Please contact the special education director for assistance determining if accessible instructional 5

6 material is required and how to access it. viii i Part B of the IDEA Sec (a)(2)(v) ii Federal Registry Department of Education 34 CFR Parts 300 and 301 (Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1401(1) iii (Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1401(2)) iv The practical and fun guide to assistive technology in public schools pg 136 v Sec [b][2] vi Section (b) vii c(1) viii Accessible Materials (1) School districts must ensure the timely provision of print instructional materials, including textbooks that comply with the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standards (NIMAS) for students who are blind or print disabled, in accordance with OAR (2) School districts must ensure the timely provision of instructional materials in accessible formats to children who need instructional materials in accessible formats, including those who are not blind or print disabled. 6

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