Assistive Technology as Part of the IEP Process
IEP is an acronym for Individualized Education Program, and every child who receives Special Education services must have an IEP.
According to the National Information Center for Children and Youth With Disabilities (NICHCY), an IEP "is a written statement of the educational program designed to meet the child's individual needs. The IEP has two general purposes: (1) to set reasonable goals for your child; and (2) to state the services that the school district will provide for your child." NICHCY has an excellent description of the IEP process on their website (www.nichcy.org).
CforAT provides computer access evaluations and/or ongoing support for students who need technology to benefit from their education. The process may include adapting the curriculum to provide access, supporting inclusion, or customizing technology tools.
What is the purpose of an AT assessment?
The general purpose of an assistive technology assessment is to determine if a student could benefit from integrating assistive technology into her/his academic program as a strategy to reach the goals stated in the student's Individualized Education Program.
How Does an Assistive Technology Assessment become part of a Student's IEP?
A parent/guardian can make a written request to the school district asking for this service. In this request, one may wish to ask for (1) a written plan consisting of goals for the student and strategies to reach those goals using assistive technology, and (2) evaluation of a specific technology to determine its effectiveness for the particular student. The school is legally obligated to respond to this request, although they are not required to give it their automatic approval.
How Does CforAT Work With The School District?
When assistive technology services are specified in the IEP, a certified nonpublic agency (NPA), such as the Center for Accessible Technology, may be hired by the school district to do a computer access evaluation, assistive technology assessment, or to provide training, consulting and direct individual service. Training can be provided for individual students, as well as for teachers, aides and other professionals.
How Does CforAT Conduct an Assessment?
Based on the student's needs and input from the IEP Team, CforAT Staff will develop an assessment plan. The plan may include any or all of the following: trying different types of hardware and/or software; assessing various access methods; and looking at various modifications or curriculum strategies. Our approach in conducting assessments is more collaborative than prescriptive. We work with many memobers of the student's team - teacjhers, [parents, aides, specialists - and follow the SETT guideline (http://www.joyzabala.com/) to explore possible AT tools and strategies. At the completion of each assessment, a detailed report is written to provide input for the IEP team's decisions about how assistive technology may fit into the context of the student's full educational program. This report includes specific recommendations for hardware and software, and strategies for their use by the student.
How Do I Get An Appointment?
In order to schedule an assessment we need two documents. The first is a purchase order for 15 hours of service at a cost of $140 an hour. The second is a completed Student Referral/Intake form, which can be mailed or faxed to you (or downloaded from this website - go to the Forms and Paperwork page). If the assessment is being financed by the school district, they should send us the completed forms directly. If the family is paying for the assessment, we ask for a deposit of $500 to begin the assessment process. We also request copies of IEP, specialist reports, progress reports, and/or work samples from the past year. Staff are assigned to assessments based on their availability and their expertise. Appointments are scheduled in the order of paperwork received. Due to the high demand for this service, there is often a waiting list, and we appreciate your patience.
What Does CforAT Bill For?
After the assessment and report is complete, an invoice will be sent for the total time spent by the staff member. This includes preparing for the visit (talking with teachers and other professionals), setting up equipment for the appointment, conducting the actual assessment, researching products and vendors, and writing the report. We only bill actual hours worked.
Who is Eligible for an IEP?
If a child has been evaluated and found eligible to receive Special Education services, the school district must hold a meeting within thirty days to develop an IEP for that child.
What is Included in an IEP?
Written into the IEP is a list of reasonable learning goals for the individual child, and the services the school district will provide in an effort to reach those goals. The focus is on ways that that the child can take part as much as possible in the general curriculum of the district (what is being learned), and in extracurricular activities.
Who Develops an IEP?
There is a team of people who come together to develop an IEP. This often includes: one regular education teacher; one special education teacher; a representative of the public school who can provide or supervise the provision of special Ed, who has knowledge of the general curriculum, and who is informed about the resources that the school system has available; an individual who can interpret the results of the evaluation and who can discuss what may be necessary for the student; the parent/guardian; and the student (when appropriate).
What if I am Unable to Attend My Child's IEP?
The school is required to try and schedule a convenient time for the team members to meet, but if you are unable to attend, the meeting can be held in your absence. The school is then required to keep you informed by phone or mail as to the results of the meeting.
How Can I Prepare for My Child's IEP Meeting?
In order to prepare to give input at the IEP, it may be helpful to make a list of your child's strengths and weaknesses. It’s also helpful to talk to the child's teachers and therapists, to visit the child's classes, and to talk to your child about her/his feelings and ideas about the process.
Additionally, it can be helpful to speak with an organization that trains parents on navigating the IEP process, and develop a checklist of issues to ask about and things you want to have included in your child's IEP. In the Bay Area, Disability Rights, Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) provides Parent Advocates who can help give you information about the IEP process and help you prepare for your child's IEP. For information about their services, visit the DREDF website.
What Actually Happens in the Meeting?
Team members will express their ideas and make recommendations as to the best way to serve the child. If this is the first meeting, the special education evaluation will be reviewed. It will be decided if the child needs related services such as speech or occupational therapy, and if there are special factors that affect the child's learning process, (this may include behavior that interferes with learning, limited English proficiency, and/or communication needs if the child is deaf or hearing impaired).
In addition, the need for assistive technology devices and/or an assistive technology evaluation may be discussed. At the end of this process, the IEP is written. It will include the services and supports that will be provided, as well as the location of the Individualized Education Program. The location must be as close to your home as possible.
Is There a Review Process?
Yes, at least once a year a meeting must be held to discuss progress and develop the next IEP. Each subsequent meeting will consist of a discussion about the child's progress toward the goals set out in the last IEP, what new goals should be added, and whether there should be additions to special education or related services.
Does the School Have to Ensure that the Goals Listed in the Written IEP are Met?
No, the IEP is not a contract. The school is responsible for providing the services listed in the IEP, and must show a good faith effort to help the child reach their specified goals.