Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mandatory AT Consideration - A Refresher

It is a federal mandate that every student on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) MUST be considered for Assistive Technology.

Do you know when this was written into federal law? Based upon what I hear from special educators, some of you might answer, "Recently." Actually, this was added in IDEA '97 - TWELVE YEARS AGO! I know this is still not happening at all IEP team meetings.
IDEA ’97 added the requirement that each IEP Team consider the need for assistive technology as part of the Consideration of Special Factors.
300.346 (a)(2) Consideration of Special Factors.
The IEP Team shall ....
(v) consider whether the child requires assistive technology devices and services.
Is it happening at every IEP meeting you attend? If not, choose to be the catalyst for compliance.

And what conclusions are reached following AT consideration? There are only four possibilities:
  1. The first is that current interventions (what ever they may be) are working and nothing new is needed, including assistive technology.

  2. The second possibility is that assistive technology is already being used either permanently or as part of a trial to determine applicability, so that we know that it does work. In that case the IEP team should write the specific assistive technology into the IEP to insure that it continues to be available for the child.

  3. The third possibility is that the IEP team may conclude that new assistive technology should be tried. In that case, the IEP team will need to describe in the IEP the type of assistive technology to be tried, including the features they think may help, such as “having the computer speak the text as the student writes”. The IEP team may not know at this point a specific brand or model, and should not attempt to include a product by name, since they do not know if it will perform as expected. Describing the features is the key step for the IEP team in this situation.

  4. Finally, the last possibility is that the IEP Team will find that they simply do not know enough to make a decision. In this case, they will need to gather more information. That could be a simple process of calling someone for help, or going to get some print, disk, or online resources to help them better “consider” what AT might be useful. It could also be an indication that they need to schedule (or refer for) an evaluation or assessment of the child’s need for assistive technology. ( WATI Assessment Guide, pages 7-8)

For additional information, access these Assistive Technology Consideration Resources to make informed decisions that serve the needs of your students.


loonyhiker said...

This was a great list and I appreciate it! In my district, there was just a statement about AT that was routinely checked and not really discussed. If we felt a student needed AT, we would first have to ask the district to do an AT evaluation. If the district determined no AT was needed (it didn't matter what the teacher recommended), than we could not mention it at the IEP meeting. I wish more parents would know about this so they could bring it up at IEP meetings!

narrator said...

So glad you re-stated this. I'd bet no more than 5% of school districts consider AT properly during IEPs, which means their kids are not being given paths to independence or success.

- Ira Socol

Kate Olson said...

Wow, this is a great reminder! I look forward to being the catalyst for increased awareness of this area at IEP meetings.

5Ollies said...

I was not aware of this information. Thank you for bringing it to everyone's attention. I will definitely be making my school district aware of this information.