Assistive Technology

What's Required

According to federal regulations each public agency must ensure that an assistive technology device and or an assistive technology service is made available to a student with a disability if such device or service is required as a part of the student's IEP. All ARD/IEP Committees are required by federal regulation CFR 300.324(a)(2)(v) to consider the student's need for assistive technology (AT) devices and services in the development of the IEP. This does not mean that the AT needs of a child with disability must be considered in every ARD/IEP Committee meeting, but it does means that the AT needs of a child with disability must be considered every time the IEP is being developed.


The first step in considering a student's need for assistive technology is to understand that assistive technology is defined under federal and state legislation as both a device and a service.


Assistive technology device means any item, piece of high and low technology equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities or increase the independence of a student with a disability so that he or she can participate more fully in all settings. On a case-by-case basis, the use of a school-purchased assistive technology device in a student's home or in other settings is required if the ARD/IEP Committee determines that the student needs access to those devices in order to receive FAPE. The term, assistive technology, does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted or the replacement of such device.


Assistive technology service means any service that directly assists a student with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. The term includes:

  • evaluating the needs of a student with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the student in the student's customary environment;

  • purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by children/adult students with disabilities;

  • selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing assistive technology devices;

  • coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs;

  • training or technical assistance for a student with a disability or, if appropriate, that student's family; and

  • training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals providing education or rehabilitation services), employers, or other individuals who provide services to, employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of that student.


Assistive technology devices and services are provided when necessary to assist a student with a disability to participate in and benefit from his/her educational program. The process of determining if a student requires assistive technology to participate in and benefit from instruction, begins with the ARD/IEP Committee or the campus-based special education team supporting the student at school. This committee should:

  • review the student's present levels of performance and evaluation data to determine if there are any areas where the student needs additional support in order to access and progress in the curriculum.

  • develop functional and/or instructional goals and objectives addressing any areas of need that were identified in step one.

  • determine if any tasks that would be required to achieve the goals and objectives identified in step two are difficult or impossible for the student to complete.

  • decide whether AT devices and/or services are needed to assist the student to complete any tasks that were identified in step three.


Adapted from The Texas 4-Step Model: Considering Assistive Technology in the IEP Process (2009).

As a result of this consideration process, the ARD/IEP committee may decide:

  • AT is needed for the student to receive FAPE and the ARD/IEP committee knows the specific AT devices and/or services that the student requires. These devices and/or services are documented in the student's IEP. The ARD/IEP Committee or campus-based special education team should identify and document on the IEP any equipment and/or product systems that are used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of the student at school.

  • AT is not needed at this time. The student is anticipated to progress in the educational program with the current supports and services provided either through general education or special education and related services. The ARD/IEP Committee must ensure that a student has access to technology available school-wide or in the student's classrooms (e.g. computer keyboard or mouse, felt pens, rubber grip pencils or pens) and if these are sufficient for the student to receive FAPE.

  • more information is needed. In considering the student's need for AT, the ARD/IEP Committee identified tasks that were too difficult or impossible for the student to complete and determined that the student may require additional AT supports in order to complete these tasks. The ARD/IEP committee identified the specific information that is needed at this time to further address the student's need for AT.

Adapted from The Texas 4-Step Model: Considering Assistive Technology in the IEP Process (2009).


What We Do

A request for assistive technology (AT) is reviewed by the Multi-Disciplinary Team in each department. This team including the PT, OT, VI, and/or SLP reviews the request and the need for the requested device or accommodation with the teachers and other staff. This service is not evaluation, but may lead to an evaluation if a need is identified as a result of the consultation process or if a parent, as a participant in this process, requests a formal evaluation.

A request for AT service is typically initiated for one of the following reasons:

  • in considering a student's need for AT in the development of an individualized education program (IEP), the IEP team needs more information to complete the consideration process.

  • in attempting to implement the recommendations of an AT evaluation, an IEP team member needs additional training.

  • an IEP team member identifies a concern for a student's progress in the goals and/or objectives that include the use of an AT device.

  • Transfer Student - A student transfers into TSD from another school district or other instructional setting with an AT device documented in the student's IEP developed in the previous instructional setting.


To request technical assistance by the multidisciplinary team, the IEP team member (including the parent) submits the request for evaluation to a campus administrator or the department evaluator. The person requesting the evaluation should also indicate if it is in the area of: communication, written expression, and/or access.


By involving the appropriate Assistive Technology team member assigned in the initial technical assist process that includes the area of need that has been identified, the ARD/IEP committee receives more specific direction on how to proceed in the most efficient manner to appropriately address the needs of the student. This initial technical assist for AT will include information gained from the following:

  • classroom teacher and support staff if applicable, and parent if indicated

  • student produced work samples collected by the classroom teacher(s)

The process may also include:

  • review of the student's present level of academic achievement and functional performance,

  • observation of the environment(s) where the educational concern is presented.

Upon completion of the initial technical assist by the assigned Assistive Technology team member, one of the following will be determined:

  • No additional support is indicated:

    • The qualified AT team member will provide a written summary to the department. This summary is to be reviewed by the ARD/IEP committee in the next scheduled ARD/IEP committee meeting. The AT team member will verbally review the response to the technical assist with the classroom teacher and department evaluator submitting the request upon completion of the response.

  • If further service is indicated:

    • The ARD committee should conduct a Review of Existing Evaluation Data (REED) and formerly request an assistive technology evaluation.

    • Parental consent will be given to the parent/guardian by the department evaluator. 

    • Upon receiving consent, the department evaluator and multi-disciplinary team member should determine the due date of the evaluation. 

Assistive Technology Evaluation

The evaluation of a student to determine the student's need for an AT device may be requested or initiated by one of the following means:

  • result of an  AT technical assist by an AT team member there is a recommendation for an AT evaluation,

  • ARD/IEP Committee with the input of the AT team member determines an educational concern necessitating the AT evaluation,

  • student moves into the district with documentation identifying the student as having been supported with an AT device as a part of their previous IEP and no current evaluation report is provided by the previous school district within 30 calendar days, or

  • AT evaluation for a student currently supported with an AT device at school is approaching three years old.


The recommendations for supports made from the assistive technology evaluation may include:

  • instructional modifications or accommodations

  • instructional strategies

  • assistive technology devices

The recommendations are implemented by the department instructional team supporting the student. Assistive technology team members will provide training for providers at the request of the department. Assistive technology devices are provided through the Special Education Services department. Recommendations for assistive technology devices include to the greatest extent possible a range of supports including no tech and low tech supports to provide backup supports for the student when more advanced technology resources may be inoperable or inaccessible.


Assistive Technology in the IEP

When assistive technology is considered in the ARD/IEP process and determined to be necessary for the student to receive FAPE, the ARD/IEP Committee can provide the assistive technology as:

  • Part of special education

    • When assistive technology is provided as a part of the special education services a child receives, it is included as a condition to at least one of the child's instructional objectives demonstrating the need for this device to support the student to receive FAPE. It is implemented by the classroom personnel.

  • A related service

  • A supplementary aids and services

    • When assistive technology is provided as supplementary aids and services, it is identified as an accommodation the student uses to access the curriculum demonstrating the need for the device/service in order for the student to receive FAPE. It is implemented by the classroom personnel.

STAP Program for People with Hearing Loss
The Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program (STAP) helps people who have a disability that interferes with their access to telephone networks purchase basic specialized assistive equipment or services.

To be eligible for a voucher, you must:


Note: It can take about 6 months before an application is processed.

Contracted local service providers may assist in completing and certifying applications at no cost to the applicant. For help with certification, click here. Once your application is approved, a voucher is issued for the specified product. The voucher must be exchanged with one of the vendors registered with this program. The list can be searched by the city you live in or by the product that is listed on the voucher. Only STAP registered vendors can exchange a voucher. Not all vendors sell all equipment. An applicant has 30 days from the date the voucher is exchanged to return the equipment for any reason.