IDEA and Assistive Technology

In 2004, federal law mandated the consideration of assistive technology for students “to maximize accessibility for children with disabilities.” (20 U.S.C. 1400(c)(5)(H)) IEP teams must determine if assistive technology will support the unique needs of the learner. Many students with disabilities struggle with reading, writing, mathematics, vision, hearing, listening, communication, organization, and more. Almost all students can benefit from a form of low or high technology supports. More and more schools are providing laptops or tablets to all students, but very few are providing the individualized software and hardware to help students overcome their disabilities. In addition, many schools do not provide the staff training to support a smooth implementation of recommended technology.  

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 a child with a disability. (20 U.S.C. 1401(1))

IDEA defines an ‘assistive technology service’ as any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. Such term includes –

(A) the evaluation…

(B) purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices…

(C) selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing…

(D) coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices…

(D) training or technical assistance for such child, or …the family of such child…

(F) training or technical assistance for professionals… (20 U.S.C. 1401(2))

Learning for Tomorrow NJ is working with individuals, schools, and workplaces nationally to ensure the learners have the technology that fits their individual needs and their environment is able to support the learner and their technology needs.