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    Assistive Technology

    The Department of Education, Division of Special Education Assistive Technology (AT) Program oversees the provision of assistive technology devices and/or services to eligible students. The AT program conducts evaluations, facilitates device selection and acquisition, and provides training for students, teachers, and related service providers. The provision of these services is mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 (Public Law (Federal) 105-17) and provided as documented in the Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
     

    Assistive Technology and the IEP

    Here are a few basic requirements regarding the provision of Assistive Technology:

    • The IDEA mandates that the IEP teams must consider the potential AT needs of every student who is eligible for special education services.
    • The IDEA's definition of AT services includes evaluations.
    • The DOEis required to administer AT evaluations to students whose IEP teams have determined a potential need for AT.
    • The IDEA mandates that if it is determined by a student's IEP team that he or she needs AT in order to receive a free appropriate public education, DOE must provide that AT.
    • The AT may be provided as: special education, as related services, or as supplementary aids and services.
    • The IDEA requires a student with a disability be provided a free and appropriate public education(FAPE), in the least restrictive environment (LRE).

    Consideration:

    The checklist provided in the IEP packet provides space to document the consideration of assistive technology.

    Example of Minimal Consideration:

    Check “yes” or “no”

    Best Practice Example: Assistive technology is not required:

    An analysis of all tasks indicates that the student can complete the tasks independently. No assistive technology is required.

    Assistive Technology is required:

    An analysis of tasks that the student needs to perform indicates he/she requires the use of AT in the following areas: (list AT for communication, writing, etc.).


    Documentation on the IEP:

  • ONLY Assistive technology devices and services that are determined educationally necessary by the student’s IEP team should be clearly documented in the IEP.
  • Avoid naming BRANDS of devices.
  • Do not hesitate to invite personnel from the SPED Office of Assistive Technology to IEP’s, they can help the team navigate through the decision making process, and offer suggestions for Instructional strategies, modifications, and device selection.

     

    Assistive Technology IDEA Regulations

    What is Assistive Technology (AT)?

    These definitions also appear in the Tech Act Legislation (P.L.100-407) which has been adopted in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

    IDEA defines an assistive technology device 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 functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. [20 U.S.C. Chapter 33, Section 1401 (25)]. This definition is broad and includes a range of devices from low technology to high technology items as well as software.

    Under IDEA the legal definition of assistive technology services is:

    ...any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. [20 U.S.C. Chapter 33, Section 1401 (26)]

    What does this mean for students & schools?

    The Department of Education is required by law to consider and provide appropriate AT to students with disabilities when it supports their access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). All IEP's must indicate that AT has been considered to "to provide meaningful access to the general curriculum" (IDEA, 1997). More specifically, IDEA indicates that AT devices and services must be made available to a child with a disability if required as a part of the child's-

    • Special education;
    • Related services; or
    • Supplementary aids and services.

    If it has been determined that the student is eligible to receive AT services, then the law requires the following:

    • AT must be provided by the Department if Education at no cost to the family.
    • If the IEP team determines that AT is needed for home use to ensure FAPE, it must be provided.
    • The student's IEP must reflect the nature of the AT and amount of supportive AT services required.

    Keep in mind that AT is any item that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a child with a disability. Assistive Technology is a tool that can ensure access to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).

     

    Assistive Technology Resources

    Closing the Gap

    Closing the Gap is an organization that focuses on Assistive Technology for children and adults with special needs. Emphasis is placed on AAC devices.

    Assistive Technology: A Parent’s GuidePDF file

    This is a publication from Schwab Learning- a web based site that specializes in learning disabilities.

    AblePlay

    This site was developed for both professionals and families. It has a searchable database of toys, specifically those geared toward special needs children, and provides non-biased reviews of those toys.

    Alliance for Technology Access

    This organization is a nationwide network of service providers, vendors, resource centers and other organizations. The website is a good starting point for a person looking for devices and supports. There is a whole section on using AT in the schools- there is a list of programs for use in the classroom, along with tutorials for using the programs.

    Schwab Learning

    This is a good non-profit organization site for families with children who have a learning disability. The information provided on the site can prove especially useful- and covers issues not only pertaining to the child, but also family and financial issues. There is also a parent to parent message board available.

    Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative

    This is the Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative’s website. The site is geared for people who live within the state, as there are links to device libraries, and state resources, but there is so much more available on this site that is useful for both consumers and professionals. There are really great forms and training materials available, along with training resources that can be ordered.

    Apraxia Kids

    This is the official site for The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America (CASANA). The site is a great place for both family and professionals, and has more detailed information related to Apraxia, its diagnosis, and treatment. There is information available about sponsored events, message boards, and e-newsletters. One of the most useful tools on the site is the Apraxia library where you can find in-depth articles and information.

    Abledata

    This is a great informational site. There is a listing available of both commercial and non-commercial devices. Products are listed according to the area that you need assistance with. The site is primarily geared toward consumers, but this would be a great place for service providers to see what is available. The section of non-commercial devices contains quite an extensive list of “do-it-yourself” projects.

    National Public Website on Assistive Technology

    This is another great site for both consumers and professionals. The site is actually a searchable database for devices, and has links to vendors where the items can be purchased.

    Play to Say Toys

    This is a commercial site that stocks toys and games to be used during “play therapy” sessions. Toys are offered according to age-range, or ability.

    Technology for Education, Inc.

    This is a commercial site that supplies learning aids for children with varying abilities. This site has a really extensive inventory, and they have divided the product categories up by desired skills. Take note: This company will ship priority mail to Guam.

    Workshop Solutions

    This is a site put together for individuals who are handy, and would like to do something truly useful with their time. There are over 100 projects listed, and there’s a link for you to submit a project idea. I think these are especially important to us here in the Pacific because: we are so far away, and shipping is preposterous, add to that cost of these simple devices and we are talking about a quite significant chunk of change..

     

    References

    Assistive Technology for Young Children in Special Education. (1998). Retrieved October 18, 2007, from Edutopia: http://www.edutopia.org/node/493

    AT and Learning Disabilities. (2007, August 16). Retrieved March 12, 2008, from South Carolina Assistive Technology Program: http://www.sc.edu/scatp/ld.htm

    AT Services. (2007). Retrieved October 12, 2007, from Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative: http://www.wati.org/at_services/atservices.html

    Buffalo, U. a. (2000). Assistive Technology Training Online Project. Retrieved March 11, 2008, from ATTO: http://atto.buffalo.edu

    Cavanaugh, T. (2002). The Need for Assistive Technology in Educational Technology. AACE Journal , 10 (1), 27-31.

    Edyburn, D. (2000). Assistive Technology and Students with Mild Disabilities. Focus on Exceptional Children , 32 (9), 1-24.

    Hasselbring, T. S., & Williams Glaser, C. H. (2000). Use of computer technology to help students with special needs. The Future of Children and Computer Technology , 10 (2), 102-122.

    Hess, J., Gutierrez, A. M., Peters, J., & Cerreta, A. (2005-2006). Family Information Guide to Assistive Technology. Retrieved January 18, 2008, from Family Center on Technology and Disability: http://www.fctd.info/resources/fig/index.html

    Holum, A., & Gahala, J. (2001, October). Critical Issue: Using Technology to Enhance Literacy Instruction. Retrieved Ocotber 13, 2007, from North Central Regional Educational Laboratory: http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/content/cntareas/reading/li300.htm

    Lahm, E. (2003). Assistive Technology Specialists: Bringing Knowledge of Assistive Technology to School Districts. Remedial and Special Education , 24 (3), 141-152.

    Minnesota STAR Program. (2007). Retrieved March 12, 2008, from Minnesota STAR Program: http://www.starprogram.state.mn.us/referral.htm

    Moore, S. (1999, April 15). The Instant Access Treasure Chest. Retrieved February 10, 2008, from Virginia Commonwealth University: http://www.fln.vcu.edu/ld/ld.html

    NATRI AT Resources: Fundamentals: AT Defined. (n.d.). Retrieved October 12, 2007, from National Assistive Technology Research Institute: http://natri.uky.edu/resources/fundamentals/defined.html

    Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young CHildren- Executive Summary. (1998, March). Retrieved Ocotber 12, 2007, from ED.gov: http://www.ed.gov/inits/americareads/ReadDiff/read-sum.html

    School, G. E. (2008, April 7). Retrieved April 14, 2008, from Gretchen Everhart School: http://www.everhart.leon.k12.fl.us/assist_tech_resources.htm#talking_books

    Schrock, K. (2008). Kathy Shrock's Guide for Educators. Retrieved March 12, 2008, from Discovery Education: http://school.discoveryeducation.com/schrockguide/edspec.html

    Technical Assistance Guide. (1998, September). Retrieved October 12, 2007, from Nebraska Department of Education: http://www.nde.state.ne.us/SPED/iepproj/

    Wahl, L. (n.d.). What You Should Know About Assistive Technology. Retrieved October 14, 2007, from Alliance for Technology Access: http://www.ataccess.org/resources/atk12/whatknow.html

     

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What’s the difference between “AT consideration” and “AT assessment”?

    During the IEP process, the team needs to consider tasks that the student needs to perform. The team “considers” if the student will be able to perform the tasks outlined in the IEP.

    If the team feels that AT may be needed for a student, it would be beneficial to invite a member familiar with Assistive Technology to the meeting. The “assessment” takes place when actual devices or services that the student is currently using or has access to is discussed. If the IEP team is still unsure of how to proceed, it may be beneficial to initiate an Assistive Technology evaluation referral.


    What are assistive technology services?

    Any service that is needed to help the student acquire or use the assistive technology. Assistive technology services include:

    • AT assessment
    • fitting, adapting, maintaining, and repairing the assistive technology as needed,
    • training the student to use the assistive technology, and
    • training the school staff, and if necessary, the family to use the assistive technology.

    Do I have to call an IEP meeting?

    Not necessarily. Many strategies and techniques can be implemented as teaching strategies. Strategies can be discussed during staffing with related service providers.


    Do students become dependent on AT devices?

    No. AT helps students gain access to their environment and practice independence, rather than relying on others to help. It does not inhibit a student from acquiring skills that have not yet emerged. Example: A student with poor fine motor skills may use a computer keyboard but eventually develop the ability to use a pen.


    Who pays for Assistive Technology devices?

    If a device is deemed necessary for the student’s education, the Guam Public School System is legally required to provide the device for the student. Devices can be borrowed, donated, or purchased for student use.


    Are students allowed to take the devices home?

    The law states that: “On a case-by-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. (Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(12)(B)(i)) If a student is unable to perform a task that is required as a part of their education, then the device should be provided for the student’s use at home.

    EXAMPLE:

    If a student has been issued an Alphasmart keyboard (portable word processor), and is required to generate written assignments at home, the device should be sent home with the student.


    Is an AT device a related service?

    It may be. An AT device could fall under the following descriptors: 1. Special Education 2. A related Service 3. A supplementary Aid and Service


    Is GPSS responsible for providing eyeglasses, hearing aids, or other individually prescribed assistive devices for students eligible for special education and related services under the IDEA?

    IDEA regulations have not provided a direct answer to this question. As a general rule, public agencies are not responsible for providing personal devices. However, if the IEP team specifies that the student requires a personal device in order to receive FAPE, then the GPSS must provide the device at no cost to the student’s parents or guardians.


    Is there a predetermined list of AT devices for particular disabilities?

    No, the decision of whether to provide AT devices and/or services is determined on an individual basis, and focus is placed on the function the student needs to perform.


    Is cost considered when selecting AT?

    Cost is definitely considered, but it should not be the determining factor. The main issue is ensuring FAPE, and providing what is appropriate.


    How does the IEP team know if assistive technology is “needed” or “required”?

    The only way to truly know whether assistive technology will make a significant difference for a student is try it out. When AT is provided for a student, there is usually a trial period. After the trial period, the team can decide if the AT is appropriate and/or necessary.

     
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