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(5.47) What is assistive technology?

(5.47) What is assistive technology?

An assistive technology (AT) device is 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 students with disabilities.  [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.5; Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56020.5.]  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.  It includes: 

  1. Evaluating the needs of a student with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the child in the child’s customary environment; 
  2. Purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by students with disabilities; 
  3. Selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing or replacing assistive technology devices; 
  4. Coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs;
  5. Training or technical assistance for a student with a disability or, if appropriate, that student’s family; and
  6. 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 the student.

  [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.6; 5 C.C.R. Sec. 3051.19.]

The list of items or services which can constitute AT under IDEA is quite broad and has been extended to items such as eye glasses and hearing aids.  [U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) (1995); 22 IDELR 629; OSEP (1993) 20 IDELR 1216; see also Fed. Reg. Vol. 71, No. 156, p. 46581, 8/14/06.]  Medication, however, has specifically been excluded from consideration as an AT or service.  [64 Fed. Reg. 12540 (3/12/99).]  OSEP has stated that AT encompasses both a disabled student’s own personal needs for devices (for example, electronic note takers, cassette recorders, etc.), as well as access to general technology devices used by all students.  Therefore, if an eligible student is unable, without a specific accommodation, to use a technology device used by all students, the agency must ensure that the necessary accommodation is provided.  Further, districts must ensure that students, teachers, and other personnel receive the necessary in-service instruction on the operation and maintenance of technology.  [64 Fed. Reg. 12540 (3/12/99).]