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Strategies for Assistive Technology Negotiations
adapted from an Advocacy Institute presentation on Assistive Technology

by Dave Edyburn, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

If a School Official Says... A Parent Might Respond (in writing)... Resources
1. We’ve considered your child’s need for assistive technology and have determined that s/he will not benefit... ...I would like to review the documentation that supports your decision. In particular, I would like to see the data regarding performance with assistive technology and performance without.

Remediation vs. Compensation

WATI Assessing Student Needs for AT - 5th Edition

Chapter 1 - Consideration Guide

WATI Assessment Package

2. Best practice suggests you always begin with no-tech solutions first... ...Consideration should not be a linear process of trial and error. Rather, all possible solutions should be explored.

WATI Assessment Package

3. We can’t afford that...

...Cost is cannot be considered a factor in AT consideration. Funding AT

4. We are not sure what types of AT are out there...

...What steps will you take to fulfill the AT consideration mandate?

Texas AT Training Modules

AT Parent Guide - AT Tools

5. It’s not clear that (the student) actually does better with the AT...

...I would like to see the data that supports such a conclusion. Typically, we need to review performance data over time, with and without the technology to come to such a conclusion.

How do you know?

6. We don’t want him to become dependent on a text-reader...when will he ever learn to read...

...Since the student doesn't have the independent reading skills and the expectation in grade 4 and beyond is to access large amounts of text, how will you demonstrate that he has access to the curriculum without a text-reader?

Learning from Text

7. Your child is not the only one that struggles with this problem...

...I can appreciate your concern, but my primary interest is the success of my child. As a result, what are you going to do to ensure that my child is successful?

Teaching Every Student


8. We will provide some specialized technology but there is no need to write it on the IEP... ...I am pleased to hear that assistive technology will be provided. However, to ensure the rights of all parties are protected, our plan for acquiring and using AT should be written on the IEP.

Documenting AT Needs in the IEP

Chapter 15 - Documenting AT Needs in the IEP

9. We are not authorized to make a decision about AT...

...I am disappointed to hear that. I guess we will need to adjourn the meeting until an appropriate administrator is here. Texas AT Training Modules

10. The textbook is not available in digital format...

...That’s unfortunate. That means that the textbook must be scanned using a “scan and read” program such as Kurzweil or WYNN or be professionally scanned.

Scan to Speak Programs

11. Copyright laws do not permit us to have your child’s textbook scanned.

Because my child is reading is ___ grades below grade level, s/he requires alternative ways to access the general curriculum. *

Ensuring Access for Students with Print Disabilities

12. The student isn't eligible for AT because he does not meet criteria for a "print disability" under Chafee... 
...Many students with learning, hearing, or other cognitive disabilities who need AIM will not qualify under copyright law as a student with a “print disability” (e.g., dyslexia); yet it is still the responsibility of SEAs (State Education Agencies) and LEAs (Local Education Agencies) to provide AIM to them.

Legal Issues Associated with the Provision of AIM to Students with print Disabilities

OSEP Q and A

Ensuring Access for Students with Print Disabilities

13. The student must have an Assistive Technology evaluation before s/he can be provided with grade level textbooks in accessible formats... ...Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) must be provided in a "timely manner" ("at the same time as other children receive instructional materials").

Ensuring Access for Students with Print Disabilities

34 C.F.R. §300.172(b)(4) Access to instructional materials.

*“With the advent of cost-effective and efficient digital scanning technology, local districts have significantly increased their capabilities to digitize books directly into more accessible digital formats. … in the absence of accessible materials from publishers, scanning a book may be the most effective method of providing instructional materials to print-disabled students, at least for the immediate future.” 

An Educator’s Guide to the Acquisition of Alternate Format Core Learning Materials for Pre-K-12 Students with Print Disabilities


Learning from Text

WATI Assessing Student Needs for AT - 5th Edition

Chapter 1 - Consideration Guide

WATI Assessment Package

Assessing AT Student Needs

Funding AT

Texas AT Training Modules

AT Parent Guide - AT Tools

How do you know?

Learning from Text

Teaching Every Student


Documenting AT Needs in the IEP

Scan to Speak Programs

Ensuring Access for Students with Print Disabilities

Legal Issues: Laws, Regulations, Guidelines

Accessible Textbooks in the Classroom: An Educator’s Guide… (2010 Revision)

34 C.F.R. §300.172(b)(4) Access to instructional materials. (IDEA Regulations, Subpart B, p.18)

In order to meet its responsibility under paragraphs (b)(2), (b)(3), and (c) of this section to ensure that children with disabilities who need instructional  materials in accessible formats are provided those materials in a timely manner, the SEA must ensure that all public agencies take all reasonable steps to provide instructional materials in accessible formats to children with disabilities who need those instructional materials at the same time as other children receive instructional materials.

While comprehensive assistive technology evaluations are important and needed, a 60 day wait to establish the need for Accessible Instructional Materials is not necessary.  IEP teams have sufficient existing data – test scores, grades - to establish a student’s need for text-to-speech software and accessible instructional materials without an assistive technology evaluation.

Back to Wrightslaw Assistive Technology Devices and Services

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