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What is an AT device?

“Assistive Technology device means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability…” [IDEA, 2004, Part B, Section 612, (1)]

  • AT can be low tech like communication boards made of cardboard or fuzzy felt.
  • AT can be high tech such as special purpose computers.
  • AT can be hardware such as prosthetics, attachment devices (mounting systems), and positioning devices.
  • AT can be computer hardware, like special switches, keyboards, and pointing devices.
  • AT can be computer software such as screen-readers or communication software.
  • AT can be inclusive or specialized learning materials and curriculum aids.
  • AT can be specialized curricular software.
  • AT can be much more, including electronic devices, wheel chairs, walkers, braces, educational software, power lifts, pencil holders, eye-gaze, and head trackers.


What are AT services?

IDEA 2004 defines AT services as “Any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. Such term included:

  • the evaluation of needs including a functional evaluation, in the child’s customary environment;
  • purchasing, leasing or otherwise providing evaluation for the acquisition of assistive technology devices;
  • selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing of assistive technology devices;
  • coordinating with other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs;
  • training or technical assistance for a child with disabilities, or where appropriate that child’s family; and
  • training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals providing education and rehabilitation services), employers or other(s) who provide services to employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of children with disabilities.” (Authority 20 U.S.C. 1401(2))

What is the goal of AT?

It can serve as a means to augment an individual’s strengths so that his or her abilities counterbalance the effects of any disabilities,


It may provide an alternate mode of performing a task so that disabilities are compensated or bypassed entirely

Lewis, R.B. (1993). Special education technology: Classroom applications. Pacific Grove, CA:Brookes/Cole

AT and the IEP

  • By law, students eligible for AT under IDEA 2004 must have an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) which includes a comprehensive plan of instruction and support services needed to meet unique educational needs.
  • Several sections of the IEP relate to assistive technology. In addition to the Special Considerations question that specifically asks the IEP team to address the student’s need for AT, questions about the student’s present level of academic achievement and functional performance, goals, and supplementary aides and services also require team members to consider AT.
  • As part of developing an IEP, team members should follow the 5 step consideration process to decide if the student might need AT to help meet their educationsal needs.  This decision should be documented in the IEP.

Assistive Technology Staff

Sandra Smith
Assistive Technology Facilitator
Huntley Community School District 158
Algonquin, IL 60102
(847) 659-5368
[email protected]

Debra D. Ryan M.A. CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist and AAC Facilitator
[email protected]
(847) 659-6500 ext. 8856 (voicemail)
Office: (847) 659-5486