Client Services

Services for School-aged Children

The Center for Assistive Technology provides Assistive Technology assessment and training services for school age children on a fee-for-service basis.

Approach

  • Referral is made by the Committee for Special Education Chairperson of the student's school district.
  • The CAT assessment team works closely with the school team and family members to identify the daily activities and educational tasks in which technology may increase functional ability.
  • Recommendations for specific assistive technology hardware and software are made. If equipment is purchased, the CAT team provides equipment setup and overview as part of the assessment process.
  • Training for individual students and school team members is also provided on a fee-for-service basis.
  • To request a referral package for an assistive technology assessment for a school aged student in the Western New York area, please call (716) 836-1168.

Frequently Asked Questions

Assistive Technology — What is it?

An "assistive technology service" is any service which helps a person learn about, acquire and use an assistive technology device.

An "assistive technology device" is any item or piece of equipment used to maintain or improve the functional capabilities of a person with a disability.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Implementation of the federal IDEA is the responsibility of NYS Department of Health for children birth to age 3, and the NYS Department of Education for children ages 3 through 21.

The definitions of assistive technology services and devices are included in the federal IDEA.

Some examples of assistive technology devices used in an educational selling:

  • computer software and hardware adaptations — including Braille printers, voice output, touch screens, switches which allow computer access through voluntary movements such as eye blinks, head or neck movements.
  • augmentative | alternative communication systems — including talking computers, or dedicated speech devices.
  • assistive listening devices- including hearing aids, infrared, personal FM units and closed caption TV classroom modifications-including individual adaptive seating/positioning devices, environmental controls.

This information is provided by the TRAID Project, funded under Public Law 100-407 by a grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education.

Special Education — What is it?

Special education services means specially designed educational instruction, including supplementary aids and related services which allow a child with a disability to benefit meaningfully from his or her educational program.

All special education services, including supplementary aids and related services, must be provided at no cost to the parents.

This information is provided by the TRAID Project, funded under Public Law 100-407 by a grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education.

What qualifies a child for special education services?

Age — Children from 3 through 21 may qualify for special education services.

Disability — A child must have a disability such as a hearing, orthopedic, speech, or visual impairment, mental retardation, or a learning disability, which interferes with the child's ability to benefit from a regular educational program.

Committee on Special Education (CSE)

The CSE, comprised of an interdisciplinary team, reviews the cases of children aged 5 through 21 referred to them by parents, teachers and others. A child can receive special education services after the CSE has identified the child as having a disability. The CSE will arrange for a comprehensive evaluation to determine all the appropriate services to meet the child's needs.

The Individualized Educational Program (IEP):

The CSE, with the involvement of the family and student, must develop a written IEP. The IEP will identify all the services to be provided for the child including: special education, supplementary aids and related services. The lEP will address how often the services must be provided, describe any specialized equipment and indicate the recommended educational program and placement. During the IEP meeting, the family should discuss the necessary arrangements for where and for what purposes any technology is to be used. The CSE must review the IEP at least once per year, and more often, if requested by a parent or teacher.

This information is provided by the TRAID Project, funded under Public Law 100-407 by a grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education.

How to obtain Assistive Technology?

Referral to CSE

Any request for special education services, including assistive technology, should be made, in writing, to the CSE Chairperson for the school district. This referral starts the process that will allow services and devices to meet the child's educational needs to be incorporated into the IEP.

Evaluations

To determine a child's need for special education, including assistive technology, the CSE is required to provide, at no cost to the family, a comprehensive evaluation.

If the parent(s) disagrees with the findings of the school district's evaluation, they have the right to request an independent evaluation. The school district is responsible for the cost of the independent evaluation.

Criteria for Approval

Assistive technology services and devices can be approved on the IEP as special education, as a supplementary aid, or as a related service, if they are needed to allow the child to achieve reasonable educational progress in the least restrictive setting.

Assistive technology should be considered and approved to allow the student to remain in the regular classroom setting, before any more restrictive instructional setting is necessary. If technology has been approved by the CSE, the school district is required to purchase the service and/or device.

Ownership

Any equipment purchased by the district remains the property of the district. If the student moves to another school district, the equipment stays with the district which made the purchase.

Medicaid or Private Insurance

Purchases using these sources may result in the individual's ownership of the device. Use of these payment sources is voluntary and must be done with parents' knowledge and permission. Parents should be sure to ask if using their private insurance will limit the amount of insurance protection available for future family use. Voluntary use of these payment sources does not relieve the district obligation to implement and ensure delivery of all IEP services.

Taking Equipment Home

There are no restrictions in the federal law prohibiting taking equipment home if it is needed for the child to fully benefit from its use. Circumstances requiring out of school use should be discussed with the CSE and necessary arrangements agreed upon with the family in the IEP meeting.

Training

To ensure both proper selection and full functional use of a device, training of the student, family and key school personnel is critical. Such training is included in the definition of assistive technology service and should be funded by the school district.

Repairs and Maintenance

The school district should pay for repairs and maintenance if it purchased the device. Examine all warranties and maintenance contracts that may accompany specific devices for provisions that may cover these services.

The circumstances involving the need for training, repair and maintenance should be discussed with the district and administrative arrangements clarified prior to implementation of the agreed upon IEP for the child.

This information is provided by the TRAID Project, funded under Public Law 100-407 by a grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education.

What to do if a request is denied?

An informal attempt to resolve any disagreements may initially be handled by the family, by referring the issue back to the CSE.

The Impartial Hearing

Any time a parent disagrees with the proposed IEP, a hearing can be requested.

The parent(s) has the right to be represented by an attorney or other advocate and can present witnesses and other evidence in support of their position.

The current program is to remain in place while any impartial hearing is pending (i.e. student is entitled to "Status Quo Protection"). For example, if the current IEP provided use of a special computer and a new proposed IEP eliminates that provision, the computer must be provided during the course of the hearing appeal process.

NOTE: Free advocacy and legal service may be available to assist you. Call 1-800-522-4369 (voice/TTY) to learn of sources nearest you.

This information is provided by the TRAID Project, funded under Public Law 100-407 by a grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education.

What about students whose disabilities do not meet the criteria for special education?

Not all students with a disability require special education services, yet some still need assistive technology devices and services to fully participate in school activities. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act requires schools to ensure that students with a disability are not discriminated against in gaining access to the full range of programs and activities offered by the school.

As with special education, it is the district's responsibility to pay for devices and services (i.e. training, repairs and maintenance) provided under Section 504. Section 504 will allow some students to receive assistive technology and overcome functional limitations without the need to be classified as a student with a disability in need of special education.

Examples of what could be funded, by school districts, under Section 504:

  • A student cannot sit at a conventional desk because a physical disability requires using a wheelchair. The school must take reasonable steps to ensure that the student can fully participate in the regular classroom setting. Purchase of a specially designed desk to allow the student to sit and work from his or her wheelchair during the day may be required.
  • A student with a vision problem cannot read from a conventional computer screen. If computers are used in the regular school curriculum, the school must take all reasonable steps to make those computers usable by students with disabilities. The school may be required to purchase a special monitor or computer screen overlay or software to enlarge.

This information is provided by the TRAID Project, funded under Public Law 100-407 by a grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education.