Early Childhood through High School
If your child needs assistive technology to access early learning (Pre-K) and public education (K-12)
It is crucial for parents and special educators to understand that the federal requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) are clear — consideration of assistive technology (AT) is required for all students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Whenever possible, an IEP Team should include the student, parents or legal guardian, teachers and other professionals providing support services. During an IEP meeting, the team should discuss and analyze information about the student’s educational needs to determine if assistive technology is necessary.
Here's what you need to know about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act:
- IDEA is a law that makes available a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children.
- Infants and toddlers, birth through age two, with disabilities and their families receive early intervention services under IDEA Part C.
- Children and youth ages three through twenty-one receive special education and related services under IDEA Part B.
(United States, Department of Education. (n.d.) Retrieved November 9, 2017 from https://sites.ed.gov/idea/about-idea/)
During the consideration of assistive technology, the IEP Team should think about the needs and abilities of the student and match features of assistive technology to the student's needs so that the right tool or service is provided to help with completion of a task or activity on time.
Joy Zabala Ed.D. first described the SETT Framework in the 1990s. SETT, an acronym that stands for Student, Environments, Tasks, and Tools, is a person-centered framework that helps IEP Team members work collaboratively and collect information about the:
- Student's strengths, abilities, and skills
- Environments in which the student functions
- Tasks the student needs to perform to meet general education curriculum and IEP goals
- Tools and services to explore that may help the student achieve his or her IEP goals
Want to learn more? Check out these websites:
IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act https://sites.ed.gov/idea/
SETT Framework – http://www.joyzabala.com/
PACER Center - http://www.pacer.org/
Center on Technology and Disability – This website maintains an extensive online library to provide families, teachers, service providers and local leaders with the information they need to understand and use assistive technology. Many of the documents are available in different languages, including Spanish, Somali, Hmong.
Minnesota Department of Education, Special Education - http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/fam/sped/
Minnesota Department of Education, Assistive Technology - http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/dse/sped/tech/index.htm
Partners in Education - http://partnersonlinecourses.com/partners-in-education/
Minnesota Department of Education report - Special Education Assistive Technology
The Minnesota Disability Law Center (MDLC) provides free civil legal assistance to individuals with disabilities statewide on legal issues related to their disabilities. All individuals with disabilities are eligible to receive help, regardless of age or income level. Learn more at http://mylegalaid.org/about/our-work/disability-law
If you have questions about using assistive technology at school, check Assistive Technology and Schools Fact Sheet
For more information on funding, check out our Funding Strategies section.