Adaptive Equipment

Framework (What’s Required):

  • Students with disabilities, whether identified under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, [2004]), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (504, [1973]), or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA,[1990]), occasionally require adaptive equipment to enable them to achieve their highest level of independence with an activity or in the context of a setting. This adaptive equipment may be required across school and home settings and therefore be described as a personal use item or may be required specifically for a student to access, participate in, and thus benefit from the instructional program provided at school.

Persons Responsible:

  • Senior Manager for Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Assistive Technology Services.


  • Houston ISD will make every effort to meet the adaptive equipment needs of a student with disability within a reasonable timeline. The actual timeline required may vary depending on the availability of the equipment and the process needed to acquire equipment if not already available within the district.

Methods (What We Do):

  • The Houston ISD Office of Special Education Services (OSES) supports campus administrators to consider appropriate options to support students with disabilities to access, participate in, and benefit from instruction on the campus. There are three channels in which a student’s need for adaptive equipment is typically identified: medical prescription; campus concern for the student’s safety; or related service evaluation. 

    Medical Prescription:
    When a child’s need for adaptive equipment is identified by a medical practitioner, a physician typically prescribes the equipment to meet the personal use needs of the student. The medical practitioner assists the family to identify the avenues for obtaining the equipment through private insurance, Medicaid, or a social service agency. This equipment is typically custom fitted to the student’s specific needs related to the level of impairment the student experiences due to disability and the functional outcomes to be achieved by the equipment. 

    If a family needs support in obtaining the personal use adaptive equipment a student may require, assistance should be requested from the Houston ISD special education social workersupporting the campus. This assistance will typically support the family in connecting with community resources and social agencies.

    Campus Identified Safety Concern:
    When a need for adaptive equipment is identified due to concern for a student’s safety at school, this concern should immediately be brought to the attention of the campus Principal and the student’s parent. If the concern is one that is specific to the ability of the student to access the resources currently available on the campus, the solution is typically developed by a campus team and may involve modifications to the campus procedures, structures, or materials. 

    If a campus requires assistance to consider options in how to support a student’s access to the resources currently available on the campus, the campus administrator should request this assistance through the special education program specialist supporting the campus.

    If the concern is one that is a result of the student’s behavior exhibited while at school, the campus team should follow the Behavior Staffing & Placement Review procedures. It is important to recognize that the Houston ISD does not use adaptive equipment at any time as a means of restraint[1].

    If a campus requires assistance to consider options in how to support a student’s behavior, follow the Behavior Staffing & Placement Review procedures.

    If the concern is about how to appropriately include the student in the campus evacuation plan, the campus Principal should seek assistance from the Houston ISD Office of Risk Management.

    If a campus requires additional assistance after reviewing the campus evacuation plan options with the Office of Risk Management, and the concern is related to the complexities of evacuating the student related to the student’s disability, the campus may contact the Senior Manager for Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Assistive Technology Services for assistance.

    Related Service Evaluation:
    When durable adaptive equipment is identified through an occupational therapy, physical therapy, or assistive technology evaluation, the adaptive equipment is provided through the OSES. This equipment is typically identified as assistive technology in the student’s individualized educational program (IEP) and is recommended specifically to assist the student to access/participate in and thus benefit from the instructional program. This equipment is durable and is designated for use only by the student for which it is assigned by the evaluator. While consumable instructional materials may also be included as suggested interventions from these evaluation processes, consumable instructional materials are the responsibility of the campus to provide for all students when necessary including students with disabilities.

    If a need for considering a student with disability’s need for adaptive equipment to access, participate in, and thus benefit from the instructional program, the campus team should follow the procedures for requesting a screening by Occupational Therapy services, Physical Therapy services, or submit a request for Assistive Technology service using the Easy IEP Additional Services Request Module

    [1] Use of restraint as a recurrent behavior management technique to increase or decrease student behavior will be prohibited. (TEA: Dissemination of Adopted Commissioners Rules for Special Education 4-10-2002) “Restraint means the use of physical force or a mechanical device to restrict the free movement of all or a portion of the student’s body …” TEC, §37.0021(b)(1) “Restraint does not include the use of physical contact or appropriately prescribed adaptive equipment to promote normative body positioning and / or physical functioning” TAC, §89.1053 (b) (2).