Documenting AT services and devices
So The ARD Committee has decided that the use of Assistive Technology (AT) is necessary for your child to access the general curriculum and/or make progress on their individual education program. Depending on your child and his/her needs, you and the ARD committee will determine whether AT will be documented within:
- A goal,
- As a related service,
- As an accommodation for assessments,
- As a supplementary aid or service, and/or
- The transition planning process.
To understand the student’s ability before the implementation of AT, it is important to review the information gathered while considering the need for AT. This data is called baseline data – it is a measure of how the student did without AT. This will help determine where AT will be documented also.
Since AT devices and services are tools used to help your child meet his/her academic and functional goals, goals will not be written specifically for the use of AT. Instead, when you develop goals and objectives for your child, the ARD committee will determine if the use of AT is needed to accomplish the goal. AT is the means to achieving the goal, not the goal itself. Therefore, AT will be embedded within your child’s academic and/or functional goals.
Sometimes the use of AT devices or services may be part of a related service. If so, then naturally the frequency, duration and location of the service would be included within the IEP. If AT is a related service, the ARD committee may need to note in other sections of the IEP the types of technology used, the environments to be used, as well as who is responsible.
If AT is required for your child to participate within the general education setting or other areas with students without disabilities, the AT device or service may be included as a supplementary aid or service. Again it will be important to note how, when and where these aids and services will be provided, along with who will provide the supports and services.
To be included as an accommodation for an assessment (state or district), it is important to remember that an AT accommodation should be routinely and effectively used in the classroom by your child. Please review the Accommodations Resources webpage by TEA to learn more about the variety of accommodations, if the AT accommodation is allowable and the documentation required within the IEP.
If your child has been using assistive technology, you may need to discuss AT within the transition planning process. We refer here to the transition planning requirements in Texas that begin at age 14. AT may be necessary to help your child advocate more fully during the IEP planning and to make choices. If your child is transitioning at any stage to a new environment, extra notes may be needed so that the new team understands your child’s present levels and the goal of the AT devices and services.
Don’t forget to also create a plan for when the device needs repairs or maintenance. It is not effective for your child, or the rest of the team, if a device is not working and there is no back up device available. Make plans ahead of time on what the team will do in these situations to ensure your child can continue to make progress towards their goals….even if it is a low tech solution until the AT is up and running again.
Regardless of where the AT device or service is documented, it is important for you as the parent to ensure that the information is adequately written down so that everyone on your child’s team clearly understands how your child will access the AT; and when and where the AT will be provided, and who will support your child, or the staff that works with your child, with implementation.
Implementation & Evaluation
Once the ARD Committee has agreed to the IEP and the use of specific AT devices and services, implementation should begin as soon as possible. A district cannot cite “lack of finances or personnel” as reasons for not providing AT.
To determine AT effectiveness, data should continue to be collected, as defined in the IEP, and used to determine progress, or a need for change. Data collection and analysis should be across all settings – not just during one portion of your child’s school day. The collection and analysis of data will provide an understanding of how the student was doing before AT, and the effect of AT after it was implemented. Data analysis will also identify any need for changes.
Consideration of AT should be an ongoing process that can be revisited at any time there is concern related to your child’s ability to access the general curriculum or make progress.
Ultimately, by using the AT device or service, your child should become a more active participant in his or her education, as well as improve their ability to become more independent and fully participating members of their school and home community.
NOTE: Keep in mind that students who are not identified for special education services under the IDEA, but do qualify under Section 504, may require AT services as related aids and services in order for them to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Documentation of their needs would then take place within the 504 Plan. AT falls within the definition of “auxiliary aids and services” under Title II of the ADA, and some students with disabilities who do not qualify for IDEA services may have a right to AT services under Title II.