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EDUDEAF: IEP and Assitive Technologies

Key Words: Deaf Education Information, Deafness Related Issues, Legal Issues Education

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Subj: Special Education Decision / Court Case
Date: 97-03-25 12:19:24 EST
From: myared@SMTP.AED.ORG (Michael Yared)
Sender: EDUDEAF@LSV.UKY.EDU (A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education)
Reply-to: EDUDEAF@LSV.UKY.EDU (A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education)
To: EDUDEAF@LSV.UKY.EDU (Multiple recipients of list EDUDEAF)

Special Ed -- Appeals Panel Decision & Draft Federal Court Complaint for Damages & Injunctive Relief.

We've won a Due Process hearing, on grounds which might be useful to others. Also, we've prepared a major Federal Court Complaint, for damages and injunctive relief, to enforce a state-level appeals decision, and to obtain implementation of the IEP.

The MARCH 12, 1993 Decision in the "Due Process" appeal & the Complaint are at my web site: (Click on reference on Main Page).

The Appeals Review Panel's most significant findings are that:

The Panel rejects the District's argument that specific methods cannot be included in an IEP.




David Ferleger, Esq.,
37 S. 20th Street, Suite 601
Philadelphia, PA 19103 (web site for disability law, general legal, & Jewish links)

Mike Yared

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Deaf Education Home Page Deaf Education Information Home PageDocument 1 2

Subj: Technology and IEP, this is long
Date: 97-03-27 22:58:33 EST
From: semesky@EROLS.COM (Linda Semesky)
Sender: EDUDEAF@LSV.UKY.EDU (A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education)
Reply-to: EDUDEAF@LSV.UKY.EDU (A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education)
To: EDUDEAF@LSV.UKY.EDU (Multiple recipients of list EDUDEAF)

I am forwarding info received from a member of our parent's support group. It clearly defines assistive technology regulations in the US. I have copies of some of the individual policy letters and/or can tell you where to find them if you need. There are attorneys operating with Grant funding whose specific mandate is to ensure that school systems appropriately provide assistive technology which usually is not being done correctly.

Linda S.


Susan Goodman March 29, 1995


The Education for all Handicapped Children Act (or EHA, now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, IDEA) was passed by Congress twenty years ago. The law requires Free (at no cost to the child of family) Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for children identified as disabled. It requires school districts to provide special education and related services without charge based on an Individual Education Plan (IEP) designed to meet the child's unique needs.

Special education is defined as "specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parent, to meet the unique needs of a child with disabilities. With the necessary supplementary aids and related services needed for the child to benefit from his educational program in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).

The legal presumption favors education for children with disabilities in regular schools, with supplemental aids and services and removal only when the cost is so great it is not practical to do so.


The term "related services" (as defined in IDEA) means transportation, and such developmental corrective and other supportive services as required for the handicapped child to benefit from special education.

These services were defined as transportation, audiology, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, early identification and assessment of disabilities in children, counseling services, and medical services for diagnostic or evaluation purposes. 34 C.F.R Sec. 300.13. According to 34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.13 comment, this list is not exhaustive and may include other developmental, corrective or other supportive services...if they required to assist a handicapped child to benefit from special education.

While the terms assistive technology devices and services were not specifically used in the original act, they clearly would be a functional part of the services defined (e.g. a communication device to implement a goal as part of speech pathology services) as well as other developmental, corrective or supportive services. In spite of this, assistive technology was often not considered when assessing a child's needs, writing and implementing a child's IEP.

The awareness of assistive technology was heightened with the passage of The Technology Related Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities of 1988. This act, which created statewide systems of technology assistance, defined assistive technology devices and services. Assistive technology device was defined as:

Assistive technology service was described as:


A policy letter is a written, public response to a member of the general public who writes a letter to the Department asking for clarification on a section of the law. Courts pay great deference to agencies interpretations of the laws they administer. This makes policy letters a powerful tool for parents, advocates and others in gaining access to assistive technology.


The Office of Special Education Programs in the U.S. department of Education referred to the Tech Act definitions (listed above) of assistive technology devices and services in a 1990 policy letter clarifying the right of students to technology in IEP's. This policy letter gave families a new tool in advocacy for their sons/daughters and promoted the development of new technology policy in the states.

It helped lay the groundwork for inclusion of specific language on assistive technology devices and services in the 1992 Amendments to IDEA. The amendments state that assistive technology devices and services must be considered on an individualized basis and become a part of the IEP if the child needs it to benefit from his educational program.

Since that time, a number of policy letters have been issued. These policy letters have repeatedly reinforced the right of the child to assistive technology devices and services if they are needed to enable a child to benefit from his/her IEP. They have served as effective tools for gaining inclusion of assistive technology in IEP's. Below is a summary of the actual letters related to assistive technology that have been issued since 1990.


The Right to have Assistive Technology included in an IEP - August, 1990

A child's need for assistive technology must be determined on case-by-case basis and can be special education, related services or supplemental aids and services for children with handicaps who are educated in regular classes.

Taking Assistive Technology home - November 27, 1991

If the IEP team determines that a particular assistive technology item is required for home use in order for a child to be provided FAPE (benefit from his educational program) the technology must be provided to implement the IEP.

Responsibility of the school district for assistive device (hearing aid) - November, 1993

A hearing aid is a "covered device" under the 1990 amendment to IDEA and must be available to the child if it is determined by the IEP team that it is needed for the child to benefit from his/her educational program.

Liability of schools for family-owned assistive devices used at school

If parents provide a device for a child in order for his IEP to be implemented, the school must assume liability for the device.


Policy letters issued by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), are an effective tool for removal of barriers for access to assistive technology. They can be used in individual cases to remove a barrier and enable a student to have access to technology. In broad systems change efforts they can ultimately lead to legislative changes. Action steps for each policy letter related to assistive technology to date have been published by United Cerebral Palsy Associations. Below is a sample of actions steps suggested from the August, 1990 policy letter related to the right to assistive technology in Individualized Education Plans.

State Level

  1. Arrange a meeting with your state Director of Special Education.
  2. Seek an acceptable resolution to the following issues:
  3. Consider the establishment of a task force that includes
  4. parents, therapists, non-profit providers, and local school system representatives to develop compliance guidelines. Issues to be addressed include:

Local Level

  1. Share this article and policy letter with parents, therapists, educators, and administrators.
  2. Arrange for a meeting with your local Director of Special Education to discuss a process to ensure appropriate assessment of students' needs for assistive technology:
  3. If the above list of issues are not worked out to satisfaction, consider:
  4. Decisions must be made on an individual student basis, not for a group of students or based on a particular type of disability. Cost and availability of devices and/or services cannot be a part of the decision-making process to meet a student's right to a free appropriate public education.

This document was produced by the Assistive Technology Funding and Systems Change Project, funded under Contract #HN940400 from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education, to United Cerebral Palsy Associations, Inc., and its subcontractors.

The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and no official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of the opinions expressed herein should be inferred.

For information, contact:
The Assistive Technology Funding & Systems Change Project
1660 L Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036
Tels: (202) 776-0406, (800) 833-8272 (TDD)
Fax: (202) 776-0414

For individualized technical assistance on AT funding issues, contact: (800) 827-0093 (voice) or (800) 833-8272 (TDD).

Uploaded by: BJ Lawrence/ Kent State University/ Deafed Major