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                            Quick Helps: assistive technology                                               



The IEP team shall consider whether the child needs assistive technology devices and services.  An assistive technology device may be considered special education, a related service, or a supplementary aid and service.  There are no-tech, low-tech, and high- tech options for the team to consider.  It is the school district’s responsibility, not the parents, to acquire and maintain the assistive technology device or service.


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.  The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of such device.


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. Such term


(A) the evaluation of the needs of such child, 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 such child;

(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 such child, or, where appropriate, the family of such child; and

(F) training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals providing education and rehabilitation services), employers, or other individuals who provide services to, employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of such child. 


When considering assistive technology the IEP team must document the following:


1-What are the tasks and/or activities that the student needs to do that s/he cannot do because of the disability?

2-What has been tried and what were the results?

3-What evidence does the team have to show what is and isn’t working?

4-Does the team have enough information and knowledge to evaluate assistive technology device and services for this student?  What is that information and knowledge that the team has or lack thereof?

5-Will the device or service assist the student in benefiting from special education?  How?

6-Is the use of the device or service necessary to maintain the student in the least restrictive environment?  Without the device or service will the child be removed to a more restrictive environment?

7-Would the device or service enable the student to meet his/her goal(s)?  How?

8-Has there been a functional evaluation of the student’s educational needs in the student’s customary environment(s)?

9-Does the student require the use of the device or service at home to benefit from his/her education?  Explain.

10-How does the device or service provide functional assistance to the student?


Areas to be considered for assistive technology are cognitive processing, levels of independence, self-care, handwriting, spelling, reading, math, written expression, seeing. listening, seating/positioning, daily organization, communication, mobility, recreation.


The IEP team should also document the training the student will receive and any training necessary for parent(s), teacher(s), or other support staff.  In addition, the IEP team should document maintenance and replacement of the device or service.


If the student needs the device or service to access the curriculum and to benefit from his/her education then the IEP team should also document the process that will be followed when the student is without the device or service. 


The Partnership of State's Committee offered to the NASDSE Board of Directors the following recommendations for essential competencies and basic knowledge in the area of assistive technology services and devices:

1-Understand assistive technology including legal requirements, its purpose and functional application for the student's educational program.

2-Demonstrate awareness of a variety of assistive technology devices/services and the ability to integrate technology into educational programs.

3-Demonstrate knowledge in their specialty area of assistive technology (e.g., access, alternative augmentative communication, computer-based instruction, mobility, positioning, assistive listening and signaling devices, recreation/leisure/play, vision technology and environmental control, and activities of daily living).

4-Demonstrate the ability to apply discipline-specific knowledge regarding assistive technology.

5-Demonstrate the ability to use appropriate assistive technology in a variety of educational settings.

6-Demonstrate the recognition of the need for on going individual professional development and maintaining knowledge of merging technologies.



For more information:

Competencies for Assistive Technology Providers

Assistive Technology Checklist   

Writing Helper        


Elementary Math Chart  


Middle School Math Chart    


Universal Design for Learning        



 (c)  2006    Claudia Lowe, B.S., J.D.        Educational Strategist & Consultant

(c)  2006    Claudia Lowe, B.S., J.D.     Educational Strategist & Consultant

Information provided on this site and all other communications produced by Claudia Lowe, J.D., SENC is for educational purposes only and not to be considered legal or medical advice or recommendations.