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Photograph of Joy ZabalaI.D.E.A.

The definitions on this page, frequently and incorrectly referred to a NEW mandate incorporated into the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, were actually an attempt to define what could be included and not be EXCLUDED under the provisions of the Act. The exact language of these definitions is also found in several other federal legislative acts designed to support assistive technology services to people with disabilities in some way.

The breadth of these definitions, which are generally concluded to exclude NOTHING from consideration, has done a great deal to raise the level of awareness and concern regarding assistive technology devices and services among many groups across the United States. Though this is positive thing in general, it has also stirred up a great deal of controversy among different factions as to what constitutes need and which assistive technology tools might best address those needs.

Less often attended to are the actual provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Act regarding public education's responsibility toward the provision of assistive technology devices and services for students with disabilities. There are some interesting points among these provisions that are not well understood or adhered to, including: 1) the inability of educational institutions to presumptively deny access to the assistive technology needed by a student; 2) the necessity to consider a student's need for assistive technology on an individual case by case basis; 3) the provision of an assistive technology assessment in the customary environments in which the student is educated; 4) the linking of assistive technology devices and services to the goals and objectives identified in a student's Individualized Educational Plan which is reasonably calculated to confer educational benefit ; and 5) the requirement that assistive technology devices and services needed by a student be provided at no cost to the student's family - either directly or indirectly.

We will likely consider these provisions and their implications more broadly as we go about using the SETT Framework.

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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP), located at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, Massachusetts.  NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013.  Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information.  If you do so, please cite NCIP.   Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government.  This site was last updated in September 1998.

ŠEducation Development Center, Inc.