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Special Factors in IEPs

Question 12.

My middle school child needs an FM system. The school says they will only provide one system for his primary classroom. Should the IEP team provide this type of technology for all his classes?


The law requires IEP teams to consider your child's language and communication needs, opportunities for direct communication with peers and professional personnel in the child's language and communication mode. The team must also consider whether your child requires assistive technology devices or services.

As your child gets older and his school environment and classroom setting change, so do his needs. That is why IDEA allows for review and revision of the IEP, in order to accommodate your child’s unique needs.

In elementary school, your child remained in one classroom, his primary educational classroom, so the school was able to meet his needs using one sound field system.

If the IEP says the school will provide a sound field system in his “primary educational classroom”, which class that would be will be in 6th grade? How will the school determine which of the 3 classrooms would be the “primary” classroom?

Your son will be required to move between three different classrooms, but only needs to hear in one of those rooms?

If he needs a sound field system to learn, then he needs it in all classrooms.  If he needs the system in one classroom, it is illogical to say he does not need it in the other classrooms.

You need to write a short letter to document what the school told you:

  • they cannot provide the system in all classrooms because of cost.
  • they will only provide the system in the primary educational classroom.

Ask what they mean when they refer to the “primary educational classroom.” If your son cannot hear when he attends math class or English class, you should ask how the school expects him to access the curriculum.

More than likely, once the school has to put it in writing, the answer to your question will be different.

If our child sees an audiologist in private practice, ask the audiologist to write a strong letter about his need for the FM system and the impact on his education if the school refuses to provide the system.

Legal Resource

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition

Wrightslaw: All About IEPs Chapter 7 - Special Factors in IEPs


20 U.S.C.§ 1401(26)

20 U.S.C.§ 1414(d)(3)(B)(iv) and (v)

IDEA Regulations

34 C.F.R. §300.34(a) and (c)

34 C.F.R. §300.324(a)(2)(iv) and (v)

Additional Resources

Special Factors: Communication Needs When Child is Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Deafness and Hearing Loss

Assistive Technology Devices and Services

Essential Guide to Assistive Technology

Evaluating Assistive Technology Products

Assistive Technology Checklist from the Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative

Strategies for Assistive Technology Negotiations

Glossary of Assistive Technology Terms

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