What is it?

Assistive Technology is any tool or combination of tools to support diverse learners.
Assistive technology consists of services and equipment for students with disabilities

Assistive Technology and IDEA

Assistive Technology services and devices are documented by the federal government in the reauthorization of IDEA, (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). 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 the functional capabilities of children with disabilities."

IDEA defines "assistive technology service" as:

"… any services that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistance technology device."

Such term includes:

  1. The evaluation of the needs of such child, 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 such child;
  3. Selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing of 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 such child, or where appropriate, the family of such child; and
  6. Training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals providing education and rehabilitation services), employers, or other individuals who provide services to, employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of such child.

When is it required?

All IEP and IFSP Teams must consider if assistive technology will help the student achieve a skill (read, write, communicate, etc.) more easily, more efficiently and in the least restrictive environment.

Assistive Technology Consideration and IDEA

IDEA '97 requires that assistive technology devices and services be provided for all children who need them to ensure the provision of a free and appropriate public education. This applies to children from birth to twenty-one years of age. The consideration of assistive technology devices and services is required during the development of every Individualized Education Program (IEP) and every Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) for children from birth to school age. IDEA also requires that each team that plans for the education of a child with disability document any assistive technology devices and /or services the child may need.

Assistive Technololgy can also be useful in providing accommodations to students or employees with an identified disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Who can help?

Northwest AEA has an Assistive Technology Team to assist and support local education teams in the decision making process regarding assistive technology. The Assistive Technology Team can serve as a resource in providing information, consultation, evaluation, training and follow-up in order for individuals to receive their Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).


Cindy Baird
Regional Facilitator
800/352-9040 Ext. 6021