Assistive Technology: Legal Issues that influence decision making Overview Objective To develop a training packet of professional development materials that will enable AT Network participants to deliver an introduction to Assistive Technology (AT) legal issues. Goals The goal is to help Ohio educators and families learn how using assistive technology can support students with disabilities in achieving higher levels of access and participation in the educational setting. Introduction to AT Professional Development Materials The materials in this packet are intended to support a one-half to one-hour presentation. • Legal Issues in AT PowerPoint • Script for the AT Legal Issues PowerPoint Note: To provide a consistent state-wide message to the AT Legal Issues, presenters are encouraged to maintain the format and procedures included. However, it can be expected that modifications will be necessary depending on the audience. Legal Issues in AT PowerPoint and Script The script that is provided with the PowerPoint offers suggested presentation delivery. Presenters should familiarize themselves with the PPT and it’s content prior to presentation. Legal Issues in AT PowerPoint and Script Assistive Technology: Legal Issues that Influence Decision-Making Slide 2: The legal mandates of IDEA have significant ramifications for the inclusion of assistive technology devices and services. In this presentation, you will review these IDEA mandates with a discussion of the application for Assistive Technology. Slide 3: First we must look at the definition of assistive technology devices that is included within IDEA. The range and types of devices are not specifically listed, but the definition encompasses any device that will increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability. The exclusionary statement for medical devices that are surgically implanted was added to the IDEA definition in the 2004 revisions. Slide 4: The IDEA definition continues to define services related to the selection, acquisition or use of assistive technology devices specific to an individual child. Slide 5: These services include: •(click) The evaluation of the needs of a child with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the student in the student's customary environment. •(click) Purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices for students with disabilities. •(click) Selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, and applying use of assistive technology equipment. •(click) Training or technical assistance for a student with a disability or, if appropriate, that student’s family. •(click) 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. •(click) Coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs. • AND •(click) Maintaining, repairing, or replacing assistive technology. Slide 6: With this definition of assistive technology devices and services in mind, let’s review the basic mandates of IDEA and consider the school district responsibilities. IDEA mandates that all children with disabilities are entitled to FAPE, or a free and appropriate public education. Slide 7: It is the responsibility of the IEP team to determine what constitutes a “free and appropriate” education. This must be done on a case by case basis for each child and included in the student’s Individualized Education Plan. Within the development of the child’s IEP, the team must also consider any needs for assistive technology. The District must ensure that a student with a disability receives the assistive technology devices and services, which are necessary for FAPE. The student’s IEP team determines the relationship that must exist is between the educational needs and the device or service. “Free” as related to assistive technology means that the devices and services, if deemed appropriate, must be provided at no cost to the parents. Slide 8: What is “appropriate” has been the discussion of debate and litigation surrounding IDEA. In relation to assistive technology, it means an appropriate device or service the child needs to benefit from his/her educational program, an appropriate assessment of needs related to assistive technology, and appropriate training for school personnel and parents on the use of the equipment. Slide 9: IDEA states that educating students with disabilities should occur in the regular education classroom whenever possible, or if not possible, in a setting that provides the greatest interaction with the student’s non-disabled peers. Slide 10: The burden is on the school district to prove that the regular education environment is not beneficial to the student. The school district must also determine if the support of assistive technologies will enable the student to remain in the regular education environment. The implications are that there needs to be district wide awareness of the types of assistive technology devices available and how these might benefit a student in the classroom. Slide 11: IDEA further mandates supplementary aids and services that may be needed by a student. The definition of supplementary aids and services includes devices that enhance a child’s ability to benefit from educational programming, as well as devices that allow the student to be physically present in the classroom. Assistive technology devices and services may therefore included as supplementary services and aids. Slide 12: All personnel working with the student should be trained on the implementation of the assistive technology in the classroom. In order for the device to be effectively used, these significant people must be familiar with the device and ways that it will enable the student to benefit from his/her educational program. Slide 13: The evaluation team must be knowledgeable about the specific area of disability and the technology devices and services that may enable the student to benefit from his/her educational program. If the school district does not employ personnel who can properly evaluate the assistive technology needs of the student, it is their responsibility to obtain these services. Likewise, a parent’s right to seek an independent educational evaluation includes an assessment that will enable an IEP team to determine a student’s needs for assistive technology. The right to an independent educational evaluation extends to situations where the school neglects to evaluate the student for assistive technology needs, as well as instances where the parent disagrees with the school’s evaluation in that area. Slide 14: The evaluation team must be knowledgeable about the specific area of disability and the technology devices and services that may enable the student to benefit from his/her educational program. If the school district does not employ personnel who can properly evaluate the assistive technology needs of the student, it is their responsibility to obtain these services. Likewise, a parent’s right to seek an independent educational evaluation includes an assessment that will enable an IEP team to determine a student’s needs for assistive technology. The right to an independent educational evaluation extends to situations where the school neglects to evaluate the student for assistive technology needs, as well as instances where the parent disagrees with the school’s evaluation in that area. Slide 15: IDEA mandates that the IEP must include the goals for the student, the services the student will receive, and how and where the student will receive these services. The IEP team must consider and determine modifications or assistive technologies that are needed for the student to achieve these goals. Slide 16: Assistive technology may be included in the IEP either as part of the student’s goals and objectives, a related service, or as a supplementary aid or service. The basic criterion is that the student needs the assistive technology to benefit from special education and this must be documented in the IEP. Slide 17: An awareness of these IDEA mandates is only the first step in determining whether or not a student “needs” assistive technology. Slide 18: School district personnel must be prepared to respond to difficult questions about the need, type, and effectiveness of a variety of assistive technologies to insure that all of their students receive a free and appropriate public education.
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