Framework (What’s Required):
According to federal regulations each public agency must ensure that an assistive technology device and or an assistive technology service is made available to a student with a disability if such device or service is required as a part of the student’s IEP. All ARD/IEP Committees are required by federal regulation CFR §300.324(a)(2)(v) to consider the student’s need for assistive technology (AT) devices and services in the development of the IEP. This does not mean that the AT needs of a child with disability must be considered in every ARD/IEP Committee meeting, but it does means that the AT needs of a child with disability must be considered every time the IEP is being developed.
The first step in considering a student’s need for AT is to understand that “assistive technology” is defined under federal and state legislation as both a device and a service.
“Assistive technology device means any item, piece of high and low technology equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities or increase the independence of a student with a disability so that he or she can participate more fully in all settings. On a case-by-case basis, the use of a school-purchased assistive technology device in a student’s home or in other settings is required if the ARD/IEP Committee determines that the student needs access to those devices in order to receive FAPE. The term, assistive technology, does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted or the replacement of such device.”
“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. The term includes:
- the evaluation of the needs of a student with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the student in the student’s customary environment;
- purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by children/adult students with disabilities;
- selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing assistive technology devices;
- coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs;
- training or technical assistance for a student with a disability or, if appropriate, that student’s family; and
- 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 that student.”
Assistive technology devices and services are provided when necessary to assist a student with a disability to participate in and benefit from his/her educational program. The process of determining if a student requires assistive technology to participate in and benefit from instruction, begins with the ARD/IEP Committee or the campus-based special education team supporting the student at school.
This committee should:
- Review the student's present levels of performance and evaluation data to determine if there are any areas where the student needs additional support to access and demonstrate progress in the curriculum.
- Develop functional and/or instructional goals and objectives addressing any areas of need that were identified in step one.
- Determine if any tasks that would be required to achieve the goals and objectives identified in step two are difficult or impossible for the student to complete.
- Decide whether AT devices and/or services are needed to assist the student to complete any tasks that were identified in step three.
Adapted from The Texas 4-Step Model: Considering Assistive Technology in the IEP Process (2009).
As a result of this consideration process, the ARD/IEP committee may decide:
- AT is needed for the student to receive FAPE and the ARD/IEP committee knows the specific AT devices and/or services that the student requires. These devices and/or services are documented in the student's IEP. The ARD/IEP Committee or campus-based special education team should identify and document on theIEP any equipment and/or product systems that are used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of the student at school.
- AT is not needed at this time. The student is anticipated to progress in the educational program with the current supports and services provided either through general education or special education and related services. TheARD/IEP Committee must ensure that a student has access to technology available school-wide or in the student’s classrooms (e.g. computer keyboard or mouse, felt pens, rubber grip pencils or pens) and if these are sufficient for the student to receive FAPE
- More information is needed. In considering the student's need for AT, the ARD/IEP Committee identified tasks that were too difficult or impossible for the student to complete and determined that the student may require additional AT supports in order to complete these tasks. The ARD/IEP committee identified the specific information that is needed at this time to further address the student's need for AT.
Adapted from The Texas 4-Step Model: Considering Assistive Technology in the IEP Process (2009)
Senior Manager for Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Assistive Technology Services.
Consideration of the AT needs of a child with disability in the development of an IEP occurs in every ARD/IEP process.
The request for Assistive Technology service is responded to within 10 school days and is completed within 30 school days.
The Assistive Technology evaluation is completed within 45 school days. This timeline may be extended in cases where extended device trials are indicated to make the best decision for the student. The timeline is not extended without parent permission. In cases where extended device trial is indicated, and parent permission is not provided, the evaluation will be closed with a recommendation for extended device trial. At the completion of the extended device trial and addendum to the Assistive Technology evaluation report is prepared and reviewed through the ARD/IEP process.
The Assistive Technology completed evaluation report is reviewed through the ARD/IEP process within 30 calendar days of the date of completion.
Methods (What We Do):
Consideration of AT in the Development of the IEP
Consideration of the AT needs of a child with disability in the development of an IEP occurs in every ARD/IEP process.
Request for AT Service
The request for AT service is the procedure anyone in the Houston ISD uses to initiate a request for an assistive technology service. This process provides a means for anyone from a campus, field, or district office to readily access the input of an individual who has received additional professional development in AT that is specific to the student’s area of need. This service is not evaluation but may lead to an evaluation if in the service request process:
- student specific need requiring evaluation is identified
- a parent of a student with disability, requests to move into an evaluation.
A request for AT service is typically initiated for one of the following reasons:
- In considering a student’s need for AT in the development of an individualized education program (IEP), the IEP team needs more information to complete the consideration process.
- In attempting to implement the recommendations of an AT evaluation, an IEP team member needs additional training.
- An IEP team member identifies a concern for a student’s progress in the goals and/or objectives that include the use of an AT device.
- Transfer Student - A student transfers into the Houston ISD from another school district or other instructional setting with an AT device documented in the student’s IEP developed in the previous instructional setting.
To submit a request for AT service, the school, field office, or district office personnel complete an “Additional Service Request” in Easy IEP.
By involving the appropriately qualified professional in the initial review of the area of need that has been identified, the ARD/IEP committee receives more specific direction on how to proceed in the most efficient manner to appropriately address the needs of the student. Whether the initial review is provided by an occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech therapist, audiologist, certified teacher for the student with visual impairment, or special education program specialist, this initial review will always include information gained from the:
- parent/guardian/surrogate parent or adult student (when accessible) and
- the classroom teacher.
This process will also typically include:
- a review of the student's present level of academic achievement and functional performance,
- an observation of the environment(s) where the educational concern is presented, and
- a review of student produced work samples collected by the classroom teacher(s).
Upon completion of the initial review of the area of need by a qualified professional:
- If no additional support is indicated: The qualified professional will provide a written summary of the activities completed in the provision of the AT service and the outcome of the AT service by submitting a response to the initial request in the "Additional Service Request" system in Easy IEP. This summary is to be reviewed by the ARD/IEP committee in the next scheduled ARD/IEP committee meeting. The service provider will verbally review the response to the service request with the parent, guardian, or adult student (if available) and the classroom teacher submitting the request upon completion of the response.
- If further service is indicated: The qualified professional will request consent to proceed into evaluation using the approved Houston ISD consent form.
Requesting Consent for Evaluation
Once the need for an AT evaluation is determined, the AT evaluation facilitator will request consent to proceed with evaluation by providing the Houston ISD approved consent form. This form is provided in one of the following ways:
- In the process of an ARD/IEP committee meeting where the AT evaluator is in attendance,
- Via the normal channels by which the classroom teacher communicates with the student’s parent/guardian/surrogate parent, or
- Other communication method established by the campus.
The evaluation of a student to determine the student's need for an AT device may be requested or initiated by one of the following means:
- In responding to a request for AT service the service provider refers the student for an AT evaluation,
- An ARD/IEP Committee with the input of the AT evaluation facilitator determines an educational concern necessitating the AT evaluation,
- A student moves into the district with documentation identifying the student as having been supported with an AT device as a part of their previous IEPand no current evaluation report is provided by the previous school district within 30 calendar days, or
- The AT evaluation for a student currently supported with an AT device at school is approaching three years old.
The recommendations for supports made from the assistive technology evaluation may include:
- Instructional modifications or accommodations
- Instructional strategies
- Assistive technology devices
The recommendations are implemented by the campus team supporting the student. Assistive technology service providers may provide training for campus teams at the request of the campus administration. Assistive technology devices are provided through the Office of Special Education Services. Recommendations for assistive technology devices include to the greatest extent possible a range of supports including no tech and low tech supports to provide backup supports for the student when more advanced technology resources may be inoperable or inaccessible.
Assistive Technology in the IEP
When assistive technology is considered in the ARD/IEP process and determined to be necessary for the student to receive FAPE, the ARD/IEP Committee can provide the assistive technology as:
- Part of the special education
When assistive technology is provided as a part of the special education services a child receives, it is included as a condition to at least one of the child’s instructional objectives demonstrating the need for this device to support the student to receive FAPE. It is implemented by the classroom personnel.
- A related service
When assistive technology is provided as a related service, it is documented in the IEP as a specific support/service to be provided under the appropriate related service that supports the area of need. For example, if assistive technology in the area of communication skills in needed as a related service, it is provided by the speech therapy services provided on the campus. If assistive technology in the area of written production skills is needed as a related service, it is provided by the occupational therapy services provided on the campus. If assistive technology in the area of computer access skills in needed as a related service, it is provided by the occupational therapy or physical therapy services provided on the campus. These related services are only needed when required for the student to benefit from special education. The device/service is implemented by the classroom personnel with the support of the related service provider specified through the ARD/IEP process based on formal evaluation and the recommendations of a qualified professional (e.g. SLP, OT, PT).
- As supplementary aids and services
When assistive technology is provided as supplementary aids and services, it is identified as an accommodation the student uses to access the curriculum demonstrating the need for the device/service for the student to receive FAPE. It is implemented by the classroom personnel.