These devices often need to be modified or customized to meet the individual needs of a student with a disability.For example, a computer keyboard may need to be adapted through the addition of tactile locator dots for a student with a visual impairment.The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates the school system’s responsibility to provide assistive technology devices and services to students with disabilities. 1401(1)) Although the IDEA uses the term “device”, it is important to recognize that assistive technology devices required by students with disabilities include hardware and software as well as stand-alone devices.The following information is included to provide IEP teams with an understanding of the legal context for providing assistive technology devices and services: Back to Top Assistive technology devices are identified in the IDEA 2004 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. Almost any tool can be considered to be an assistive technology device except for those assistive technology devices that are surgically implanted and have been excluded from the definition of an assistive technology device as defined in IDEA.For example, a classroom computer with a word processing program can be considered assistive technology for a student who demonstrates difficulty in writing and spelling if the IEP team has determined that it is educationally necessary.Assistive technology devices can be purchased from a local store or a vendor that specializes in the production and sale of assistive technology devices.The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of such device. The definition of an assistive technology device is very broad and gives IEP teams the flexibility that they need to make decisions about appropriate assistive technology devices for individual students.
When determining assistive technology needs, IEP teams should consider commercially available solutions that may be used “as is” or ones that can be modified to meet the student’s unique needs.In some situations, it may be necessary to construct a device to meet the student’s needs.