Topical Guides


Assistive technology is any kind of technology that can be used to enhance the functional independence of a person with a disability. Accomplishing daily tasks such as talking with friends, going to school and work, or participating in recreational activities is often a challenge. Assistive Technology (AT) devices are tools to help to overcome those challenges and enable people living with disabilities to enhance their quality of life and lead more independent lives.
(from: Family Center on Technology and Disability (FCTD): Assistive Technology 101)

IDEA 2004 defines assistive technology and assistive technology services for children and youth with disabilities.  This information is found by using the search function at the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) website: Building the Legacy: IDEA 2004

The following resource material and dialogue starters will help to bridge the conversation gap around the use of assistive technology.  We thank the Family Center on Technology and Disability (FCTD) for permission to highlight and link to their work.

To begin, review the Facilitator's Handbook, and then choose the topic and the appropriate dialogue guide starters for your audience
•    Dialogue Guide Facilitator Handbook

Assistive Technology 101
Source Document:
FCTD Fact Sheet: Assistive Technology 101, The Family Center on Technology and Disability (FCTD), Academy for Educational Development (AED)
Dialogue Question Starter: Assistive Technology 101


The Possibilities of Assistive Technology (AT)
Source Document:
Family Information Guide to Assistive Technology: Section 1: The Possibilities of Assistive Technology (AT), The Family Center on Technology and Disability (FCTD), Academy for Educational Development (AED)

Dialogue Question Starter: The Possibilities of Assistive Technology (AT)


Assistive Technology in Schools
Source Document:
Family Information Guide to Assistive Technology, Section 2: Assistive Technology in Schools, The Family Center on Technology and Disability (FCTD), Academy for Educational Development (AED)
Dialogue Question Starter: Assistive Technology in Schools

Assistive Technology and the IEP
Source Document:
FCTD Fact Sheet:  Assistive Technology and the IEP, The Family Center on Technology and Disability (FCTD), Academy for Educational Development (AED)
Dialogue Question Starter: Assistive Technology and the IEP

Funding AT
Source Document:
Family Information Guide to Assistive Technology: Section 3: Funding AT , The Family Center on Technology and Disability (FCTD), Academy for Educational Development (AED)
Dialogue Question Starter: Funding AT

Assistive Technology Laws
Source Document:
FCTD Fact Sheet:  Assistive Technology Laws, The Family Center on Technology and Disability (FCTD), Academy for Educational Development (AED)
Dialogue Question Starter: Assistive Technology Laws

Quick Questions and Tips

Source Document:
Family Information Guide to Assistive Technology: Section 4: Quick Questions and Tips, The Family Center on Technology and Disability (FCTD), Academy for Educational Development (AED)
Dialogue Question Starter: Quick Questions and Tips






This Dialogue guide was based on the FCTD Fact Sheets: Assistive Technology 101
The Family Center on Technology and Disability (FCTD), Academy for Educational Development (AED)



Knowing your available time and your audience, choose one or many of the dialogue starters below.


Reaction Questions



1.    Are the stakeholders (teachers and other school professionals, parents, students, etc.) in your school/district aware of assistive technology and its role in providing access to instruction?  What do you feel are the most important considerations in providing information to stakeholders?

2.    Does your district have a definition and process for selecting assistive technology? 

  • If so, how is it similar or different from the definition and selection process in the brief?
  • If not, what should be included in your definition and selection process?



3.    From your experience, please give examples of types of assistive technology commonly used in your school/district. 

4.    Have you had experience in selecting assistive technology for students in your school/district? Please describe the process, its rewards and its challenges.

5.    Describe the process your school/district uses to conduct a formal assessment to determine the assistive technology needs of a child.  How often do you review the use and effectiveness of the assistive technology once the child is using a particular tool?

6.    Please describe the working relationship between stakeholders in sharing information on the selection of assistive technology?  What can be done to improve upon the current level of interaction and collaboration?

7.    What stigmas might a student utilizing assistive technology face from his/her peers, staff, community at large?  In what ways might we support the child in dealing with these obstacles and potential problems in the future?

8.    In your opinion, are parents and school personnel aware of the many types of assistive technology that are available? 

  • If so, how are they informed?
  • In your opinion, are parents and school personnel aware of the many types of assistive technology that are available?
  • If so, how were they informed?
  • If they are not aware, how might their awareness be increased?



Application Questions



1.    How can our school/district and technology resource organizations work together to create a common understanding of assistive technology, the process by which it is matched to students’ needs, and resources available in our community?

2.    What processes/guidelines will our school and community agencies put into place to ensure that students in need of assistive technology have what they need?  Including,

  • Identifying information to be gathered and who will provide the information (family, classroom, others who interact with the teachers);
  • Evaluating and choosing the right device;
  • Obtaining resources and the appropriate assistive technology; and
  • Monitoring for use and effectiveness.


3.    What are the areas of expertise that families and school/district personnel will need in order to effectively determine the need for and provide for the selection of assistive technology?  What opportunities shall we create for knowledge and skill development?

4.    What resources are available for stakeholders including students with disabilities and families to acquire information on assistive technology, and how will we ensure that information on these resources is made available to all?



The following stakeholders worked together within the
IDEA Partnership to create this dialogue guide:


Role: Policymaker
Location: Arkansas

Role: Family Member
Location: Florida

Role: Special Education Administrator
Location: Florida

Role: Higher Education
Location: Georgia

Role: Special Education Administrator
Location: Georgia

Role: Family Member
Location: New Jersey

Role: Special Education Teacher
Location: Oklahoma

Role: General Education Teacher
Location: Wisconsin






The IDEA Partnership, located at the National Association of
State Directors of Special Education, is sponsored by the
U.S. Department of Education
Office of Special Education Programs.   2009

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This Dialogue guide was based on the FCTD Fact Sheet:  Assistive Technology and the IEP, The Family Center on Technology and Disability (FCTD), Academy for Educational Development (AED)


Knowing your available time and your audience, choose one or many of the dialogue starters below.


Reaction Questions



1.    In your opinion, why is there a reference to assistive technology as a service in a student’s IEP?

2.    Describe how assistive technology is part of your school/district’s IEP planning meeting including the process for: 

  • Informing parents of the availability of appropriate assistive technology, assessing to determine need;
  • Selecting and accessing the right technology based on the students’ environment demands and preferences;
  • Identifying the training and technical assistance needed for use; and
  • Evaluating the assistive technology as the students age and their environment changes, including at the point of transition to post-secondary?


3.    Describe the strengths and weaknesses of your school/district’s current IEP process based on the above elements.

4.    Do you feel that there is sufficient knowledge and information for all stakeholders including students with disabilities and families to determine assistive technology need and tools and how to include these in the IEP?

5.    How do we find sources available at the district/state/regional/state/national levels to assist in determining the types of tools, comparisons of products, product listings, and related information about assistive technology?

6.    What staff and community assistive technology providers are available to assist IEP committee members in assessing students’ assistive technology needs, locating and selecting appropriate assistive technology, and providing training and technical assistance as needed for students, families, and professional school staff?

7.    Describe the process your school/district has in place to resolve disagreements between the parent/family and the school regarding assistive technology in the IEP?

8.    To what extent is your district experiencing disagreements about assistive technology decisions?



Application Questions



1.    What resources and learning opportunities will be implemented to ensure that all members of the IEP team understand the necessary elements for addressing the assistive technology needs of our students?

2.    What school and community resources are available to assist in this process and how can we develop a systematic way of ensuring that all stakeholders have awareness of these resources?

3.    What procedures and learning opportunities will we put in place to ensure teachers, related service personnel and families have the knowledge and skills to collaborate on an assessment of assistive technology needs and selection of appropriate tools? 

4.    What learning opportunities will we put in place to encourage positive relationships and collaborative processes to reach agreement on student assistive technology needs? 

5.    What procedures and learning opportunities will we put in place to address disagreements between the parent/family and the school regarding assistive technology in the IEP? 


The following stakeholders worked together within the
IDEA Partnership to create this dialogue guide:


Role: Policymaker
Location: Arkansas

Role: Family Member
Location: Florida

Role: Special Education Administrator
Location: Florida

Role: Higher Education
Location: Georgia

Role: Special Education Administrator
Location: Georgia

Role: Family Member
Location: New Jersey

Role: Special Education Teacher
Location: Oklahoma

Role: General Education Teacher
Location: Wisconsin







The IDEA Partnership located at the National Association of
State Directors of Special Education is sponsored by the
U.S. Department of Education
Office of Special Education Programs.   2009

 

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This Dialogue guide was based on Family Information Guide to Assistive Technology: Assistive Technology in Schools: Section 2, The Family Center on Technology and Disability (FCTD), Academy for Educational Development (AED)


Knowing your available time and your audience, choose one or many of the dialogue starters below.


Reaction Questions



1.    From your experience, what do you know about or what have you seen that could be considered assistive technology?  Please give examples.

2.    If you know a child that has used assistive technology resources, what was the best part of the experience?  What was the most frustrating or most difficult part?

3.    In what ways are your current procedures supportive of assistive technology in Section 504 plans and IEPs?

4.    In what ways is the school/district informing parents of preschool-age children with special needs about the possibility of assistive technology evaluations and services?

5.    In your opinion, who should be included in the consideration of and evaluation for possible assistive technology supports?  Why are these persons (roles) important when considering who should be involved?

6.    In your opinion, who has the expertise to provide the practice and provision of assistive technology services for a student?  Why are these persons (roles) important when considering who should provide services?



Application Questions



1.    What can we put into place to ensure that school personnel, families, and agencies are both aware of applicable assistive technology provisions in the statutes?

2.    What practices can we put into place in our school/community to ensure students and families have access to appropriate assistive technology and services available through IDEA? 

3.    What practices can we put into place to ensure evaluations for assistive technology are conducted in a timely manner?

4.    What procedures shall we put in place for a student who needs an assistive device we don’t currently have in our district?  What can we do to facilitate comparable services/devices for a student who moves in to the district with assistive technology needs and services already in place in the IEP? 

5.    What procedures shall we put in place to purchase or acquire new assistive technology? 

6.    If the IEP team is unable to determine what assistive technology devices are best for the student, what procedures will we put in place to ensure access to a formal evaluation? 

7.    What practices will we use when any member the IEP team disagrees regarding the assistive technology evaluation?  How can we work together to resolve disagreements between parents and the school if and when they occur?


The following stakeholders worked together within the
IDEA Partnership to create this dialogue guide:



Role: Special Education Administrator
Location: Florida

Role: Related Service Provider
Location: North Carolina

Role: Special Education Teacher
Location: South Carolina

Role: General Education Teacher
Location: Pennsylvania



The IDEA Partnership located at the National Association of
State Directors of Special Education is sponsored by the
U.S. Department of Education
Office of Special Education Programs.   2009

 

dgheader.png





This Dialogue guide was based on the FCTD Fact Sheet:  Assistive Technology Laws, The Family Center on Technology and Disability (FCTD), Academy for Educational Development (AED)

Knowing your available time and your audience, choose one or many of the dialogue starters below.


Reaction Questions



1.    In your opinion, why is it important that laws be in place to ensure access to assistive technology?  What biases might we encounter when we consider equal opportunities for students and adults that require assistive technology?

2.    Which of the laws in this article are commonly understood by the community?  Which of these are relatively unknown to the community?  Why do you think that is so?

3.    As you can tell from this brief, there are many federal laws that address the provision of assistive technology. 

Do you believe stakeholders (teachers and other school professionals, parents, students, community assistive technology providers) have a clear understanding of the different situations in which students and adults with disabilities can legally request and obtain needed assistive technology? 
If not, what barriers prevent this information from being more widely known?

4.    What policies and procedures are in place in your district and/or community to monitor implementation of the laws that apply to assistive technology?

5.    Is there a person(s) in your school/district/region/state that is responsible to keep up to date on federal laws that impact special education services?  Who is that person(s)?  If you do not know, how can you find out?



Application Questions



1.    What learning opportunities will we put into place to ensure that all stakeholders, especially students and their families, are aware of applicable assistive technology statutes to ensure the rights of students with disabilities?

2.    How can we help students and families access appropriate assistive technology services available under these laws?

3.    What procedures will we put in place to monitor the implementation of assistive technology laws that are applicable to the constituent group we serve? 

4.    What procedures will we put in place to ensure sharing of additional information and support relative to assistive technology laws?



The following stakeholders worked together within the
IDEA Partnership to create this dialogue guide:




Role: Policymaker
Location: Arkansas

Role: Family Member
Location: Florida

Role: Special Education Administrator
Location: Florida

Role: Higher Education
Location: Georgia

Role: Special Education Administrator
Location: Georgia

Role: Family Member
Location: New Jersey

Role: Special Education Teacher
Location: Oklahoma

Role: General Education Teacher
Location: Wisconsin







The IDEA Partnership located at the National Association of
State Directors of Special Education is sponsored by the
U.S. Department of Education
Office of Special Education Programs.   2009