The emphasis regarding accommodations during transition years should be on assisting the student to understand:
The following will be discussed in this section:
Assistive technology can refer to any device or product that enables an individual to perform an activity with greater independence. AT devices include "high-tech" products that are highly specialized and/or specifically designed for use by an individual with a disability (e.g., augmentative communication devices, wheelchairs) and those "low-tech" products that are not readily available to the general population (e.g., Velcro, computer software, calculators, name stamps). Low-tech devices are generally available "off the shelf" at general merchandise stores or through catalogs (e.g., Radio Shack, Lechmere, Sharper Image, Lillian Vernon).
Assistive technology service
Assistive technology service is any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive device. Services include:
Assistive technology devices and services are one type of accommodation.
Accommodations can also include modifications or changes to equipment like
building up a paintbrush handle so someone is able to grip it, adapting
curriculum, or modifying the environment (e.g., building a ramp, relocating
an activity to an accessible site or to a different, quiet area of the
Remember: Accommodations can be a team effort! Utilize friends, family, classmates, co-workers, advocates, therapists, human service providers, and school personnel as resources!
Rules and Regulations -- Making all individuals feel welcome
The ADA became law on July 26, 1990 and protects all Americans with disabilities from discrimination in employment, public services, transportation, public accommodations, and telecommunications. Each Title of the Act references assistive technology as a means to achieve equal access and opportunity.
Students should know that in order to be considered for accommodations under the ADA, they:
IDEA includes identical definitions of assistive technology devices and services to those included in the Tech Act. Assistive technology can be included in the IEP in a number of ways. It may be part of the student's annual goals and objectives and/or it may be required for the student to be educated in a regular class (e.g., use of computer, calculator, voice synthesizer) under supplementary aids and services. Additionally, the IEP may specify a related service (e.g., speech therapy, physical therapy), which would assist the student in being more independent or in acquiring and learning to use an assistive device.
Assistive technology should be considered as an option in every IEP. Each Local Education Agency (LEA) must ensure that assistive technology or assistive technology services, or both, are made available to a student with a disability if required as a part of the student's:
To further reinforce the role of an LEA, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has issued several policy statements noting that assistive technology should be considered as part of the process of developing a child's IEP (see Appendix V: Policy Letters and Technical Assistance Circular; J. Schrag, T. Hehir, N. Carney). These policy letters state unequivocally that assistive technology services and devices may be considered as special education, related services, or supplementary aids and services to enable a student with a disability to remain in the regular education classroom. As part of the requirements of a "free, appropriate public education" (FAPE), assistive technology needs must be considered when developing a student's IEP. In response to the requirements of the least restrictive environment principle and special education or related services, students with disabilities have a right to assistive technology. Schools can require parents to pay for AT devices and services if they have been identified in the student's IEP. The school system can ask parents to use private insurance but parents are not required to do so. Parents should be advised that using private insurance to purchase AT may affect future insurability or costs for the lifetime limit of the insurance policy.
AT belongs to the student if the student's private insurance or Medicaid funds have been used to purchase it and should not be used by anyone else unless the student grants permission (e.g., playing a computer game, working on an assignment with a peer). AT purchased by the school district remains the property of the district. The school district can allocate a device to a specific student or have multiple devices that are used by numerous students. It is advisable for the school district to cover the AT under a liability policy. Students must be permitted access to the AT at home if the IEP team (TEAM) indicates that the AT is necessary for a student to benefit from FAPE. A school board cannot change any portions of the IEP, except by reconvening the TEAM. Additionally, the school district may not refuse access to AT on the basis of insufficient insurance coverage. Furthermore, a school district may not postpone implementation of an approved IEP unless there is some extenuating circumstance, such as purchasing and shipping the AT.
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973
The Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1986 (P.L. 99-506)
The amendments of 1986 require each state vocational rehabilitation agency to describe in its three-year state plan how rehabilitation engineering services would be included throughout the rehabilitation process. The amendments also require the application of rehabilitation technology services when making determinations of eligibility. This is very important for individuals who might otherwise be ineligible for vocational rehabilitation services. Additionally, rehabilitation engineering was added to the four mandatory services that state rehabilitation agencies must provide.
On November 16, 1990, then-Commissioner of Rehabilitation Services Administration Nell Carney issued a policy directive to all state vocational rehabilitation agencies that set significant new guidelines concerning implementation of the 1986 Rehabilitation Technology Act Amendments (see Appendix V: Policy Letters and Technical Assistance Circular; N. Carney).
Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1992 (P.L. 102-569)
the individual requires vocational rehabilitation services to prepare
for, enter, engage in, or retain gainful employment.
This federal mandate provides financial assistance to states on a competitive basis to plan and implement a consumer-responsive system of technology services for individuals of all ages with disabilities. The Tech ACT Amendments were signed into law on March 9, 1994. The purposes of the amendments are to:
Accommodations are referenced in each title. They must be made except when doing so would impose undue hardship.
In employment, accommodations frequently require restructuring how a job is customarily performed or the work environment itself.
In places of public use, accommodations may require ceasing discriminatory eligibility criteria; modifying policies, practices, and procedures; providing auxiliary aids and services; removing barriers, etc.
Determination is made on a case-by-case basis. No specific form of accommodation is guaranteed for all individuals with a particular disability.
Other legislation facilitates compliance. For example, the Internal Revenue Code facilitates compliance by allowing deductions for the removal of architectural and transportation barriers.
Defines AT devices and services the same as the TECH Act.
AT must be provided when included in the IEP.
Requires Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to ensure that AT and/or AT services are made available to student if required as part of a student's
a. Special Education (section 300.17)
b. Related Services (section 300.16)
c. Supplementary Aids and Services (sec. 300.550(b)(2))
It is a team decision whether or not to include AT in the IEP. As members of the team, students and parents should learn about the possible benefits of AT and have the right to request that AT be included in the IEP.
In August 1990, the Office of Special Education Programs issued a policy statement asserting that AT should be considered as part of the IEP to enable a student with disabilities to remain in the regular education classroom.
Defines AT devices and services the same as the TECH Act.
Defines the term "rehabilitation technology" as including AT devices and services.
Requires each state vocational rehabilitation agency (MRC in this state) to describe how rehabilitation technology services will be provided.
Requires the application of rehabilitation technology services when determining eligibility.
·students with disabilities in transition
·individuals with severe disabilities
Defines "AT device" as any item, piece of equipment, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities for individuals with disabilities.
Defines "AT services" as any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device.
Provides financial assistance to states, on a competitive basis, to implement AT services in response to consumer needs (e.g., Massachusetts Assistive Technology Partnership, MATP, in this state).
Funds programs of national significance related to AT.
Establishes and expands alternative financing mechanisms to allow individuals with disabilities to purchase AT devices and services.
At age 16, Jane got a job working as an administrative assistant in a doctor's office. She continued working there, utilizing her laptop computer to type correspondence for the next two years, until she graduated high school. Upon graduation (at age 18), and with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) assisting her with tuition, Jane enrolled in a two-year paralegal program at a local community college. MRC also assisted Jane in applying for a PASS plan so she could purchase an updated computer. During college, Jane realized that she would need to purchase a wheelchair that would adjust to a standing position to alleviate the pressure caused by her spina bifida if she was ever to work full-time. She began the lengthy process of applying to Medicaid for funding.
Upon graduating, Jane found a job working part-time for a busy law firm. The law firm updated the software on her computer to be compatible with other office computers. They also changed several doorknobs to lever-type knobs (the front entrance, Jane's office, the bathroom, the Xerox room, and several key offices and meeting rooms), and eased the pull on the same doors.
When Jane finally received her new wheelchair six months into her employment, she applied and was accepted for a full-time position. At this time Jane's employer purchased an adjustable-height table, which would enable Jane to work from either a sitting or standing position.
Through collaborative planning and utilizing all her resources, Jane
was able to actualize her current employment goals. She is now thinking
about buying her own condominium and considering going back to school for
a degree in business law.
These products can be utilized to make assignments and activities more accessible to everyone. For example, switches controlled by a head, arm, or eye movement, or even a breath of air may be used to turn on or off any electronic device, draw a picture or control a computer. Almost any electronic device can be operated utilizing these devices (e.g., computer games, electronic organizers, stereo systems, televisions, lights). Other items, such as keyboards, can be simplified by using color-coded buttons or buttons with pictures instead of letters.
There is a wealth of literature on the purchase, adaptation, and use of both high-tech and low-tech devices. Most sources recommend that people first research existing devices, then modify the devices. Only when these two options fail is inventing one's own modification recommended. In other words, check out what's already out there before reinventing the wheel. Furthermore, when making a modification (accommodation), you should aim for the least amount of change possible. For example, if an individual uses a computer instead of paper and pencil, the worksheet can be duplicated onto the computer so the end result (printout) looks much the same as the other students' work.
Other types of technology may include environmental accommodations that may encompass anything from simply using lever door handles instead of round knobs to using highly special equipment like automatic door openers or faucets. Using simple modifications instead of complicated devices or equipment also applies to rule modifications made to include students. Assignments or activities can be adapted in order to expand the personal abilities of the student as well as increase participation and understanding of an assignment or activity regardless of ability.
The following five items represent typical areas in which assistive technology and or accommodations can be applied:
For each of these areas, some very basic steps can be taken to assist students with that type of disability to participate in an activity or complete an assignment independently. These categories are purposely broadly stated because individuals vary enormously, regardless of their ability. Including every disability in every situation is far beyond the scope of this section. Whoever is providing or receiving the accommodation must always take the needs of the individual into account and must be willing to try new ideas. Each area will be introduced below with examples of typical accommodations and devices. For more information about any of the areas, accommodations, or devices mentioned, contact the Massachusetts Assistive Technology Partnership ( in Appendix I under Assistive Technology Resources).
Individuals who have difficulty with mobility may need a wide variety of devices or accommodations to assist them in getting around school buildings, office buildings, and recreation centers as well as participating fully in all aspects of school/work/recreation/daily living. These accommodations and devices may include:
Individuals who have difficulty grasping may need devices or accommodations to assist them in holding/using everyday items as well as participating fully in all aspects of school/work/recreation/daily living. These accommodations and devices may include:
Individuals who have difficulty seeing may need to use devices or accommodations to assist them in getting around as well as participating fully in all aspects of school/work/recreation/daily living. These accommodations and devices may include:
Individuals who have difficulty hearing may need devices or accommodations to assist them in participating fully in all aspects of school/work/recreation/daily living. These accommodations and devices may include:
Individuals who have cognitive difficulties may need devices or accommodations to assist them in participating fully in all aspects of school/work/recreation/daily living. These accommodations and devices may include:
audio output devices, augmentative communication aids, braille writers, braille typewriters, braille printers, computer programs to change braille to text and vise versa, character magnification devices, digitizers, electronic scanners, speech synthesizers, eye movement detectors/eye sensor devices, voice analyzers, voice recognizers, computer sketch pads, computer graphic pads, bar code scanners, head switches, finger switches, fist switches, foot switches, breath switches, portable computers, firmware cards, joysticks, trackballs, computer mouses, hand-held mouses, key guards, light pens, ultraviolet light scanners, touch screens, universal TV controls, universal electric controls, calculators, telephone amplifiers, radio amplifiers, headphones, buzzers, sonar sensing devices, pressure plates, robotics, TDDs, remote controls, battery-operated devices, modifications of game rules, tapes, ropes, name stamps, lever door handles, talking clocks, no-spill coffee cups, thick-handled silverware, ramps, dycem, scoot guard, Velcro, smooth pavements, adjustable desks, talking watches, moveable keyboard trays, magnifying glasses, shoe horns, softballs, sit skis, wheelchairs (hundreds of kinds), handcycles, beepers, portable telephones, large-buttoned telephones, dictator tape recorders, regular tape recorders, computer networks, shorter hours, grippers, the "Clapper," long-necked watering cans, built-up gardens, page turners, scanners, reading machines, answering machines, large handles, WD-40, funnels, wide doorways, elevators, escalators, boardwalks, car hand controls, bright lights, dim lights, straws, swimming flippers, life vests, file folders, flashlights, cleaning services, lowered counters, brailled menus, coin templates, credit cards, calling cards, raised-line checks, interpreters, hearing aids, CART, closed captioning, live description, glasses, braces, and so on!
Accommodations & AT
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