Fact Sheet

What is Assistive Technology for Special Education?

Assistive Technology Device:  An assistive technology (AT) device is any item used to maintain or improve the educational capabilities of a student with a disability.  (See Attachment I for examples.)

Assistive Technology Service:  An assistive technology (AT) service is any service that assists in choosing, getting, or using an assistive technology device.  This includes evaluations, modifications, and maintenance and repair of AT devices.  It also includes training for a student, family and school personnel in the use of such devices.  (See Attachment II for examples.)

What does the law require?1

Making sure that the IEP addresses AT devices and services

Places where Assistive Technology may appear in the IEP

What if parents disagree with what is proposed for their child?

If parents do not agree with their child’s IEP, or if the district refuses to provide needed AT devices, they should first informally discuss the matter with the IEP team and other school personnel (like the special education director).  If the parents still disagree, they have the right to ask for an independent evaluation at the school’s expense, mediation or a due process hearing.  They may also file a complaint with the SC Department of Education.

Can the student bring a school district provided device home?

Students may use AT devices owned by the school district outside of school property whenever necessary to achieve IEP goals.  This need should be addressed by the IEP team.  For example, if an IEP calls for the use of an AT device in order for the student to do his/her homework assignments, the student may bring the device home after school and on weekends.  Generally, the school is responsible for damages and needed repairs unless damage is due to unauthorized use or unwarranted damage. In such case, parents may be held responsible.

What happens during Transition?

What if a student has a disability but is not in special education?

A student with a disability that does not require special education would not be protected under IDEA.  However, he or she may be protected by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  This Act prohibits discrimination in providing educational services to students with disabilities, whether they are in regular or special education.  AT may be requested as an accommodation under a 504 Plan.

S.C. Department of Education AT Services:  More information available on the S.C. Department of Education website. 2

South Carolina Assistive Technology Program:  More information available regarding the South Carolina Assistive Technology Program3   803-935-5263

Sources of Information for this Fact Sheet:  34 CFR 300.5 and .6; 34 CFR 300.34; 34 CFR 300.324 (a)(2)(v)

Cross Reference:  P&A Fact Sheet:  School Transition Services


Medical devices that are surgically implanted (e.g. cochlear implants) are not covered under IDEA and are not the responsibility of the school district.  However, nothing limits the responsibility of the school district to appropriately monitor and maintain such devices in order to maintain the health and safety of the child.  This also includes while a child is being transported to and from school.  (34 CFR 300.34(b))
2 SCDE AT Specialists are available statewide to all schools and school districts and provides services such as; trainings, workshops, assistance in inventorying assistive technology hardware in different regions, assists with skills needed to conduct appropriate evaluations and assessments, and in obtaining funding through various grants.
3 The SCATP AT Resource Center provides free consultation for individuals with disabilities, their families and school districts.  While they do not provide formal assessments, the SCATP provides demonstrations, loans AT equipment to students, answers questions related to different AT devices and can provide limited consultation to a student’s AT team.


Attachment I

Assistive Technology Devices in the IEP

The following list gives examples of the kinds of AT devices which might be helpful to a student with a disability


Attachment II

Assistive Technology Services in the IEP

Who pays for Assistive Technology for children?


P&A would like to acknowledge that some information shared in this fact sheet was made available from the South Carolina Assistive Technology Project (SCATP) (more information at SCATP website) and South Carolina Department of Education (more information at SC Department of Education website).

This publication provides legal information, but is not intended to be legal advice.  The information was based on the law at the time it was written.  As the law may change, please contact P&A for updates.  This publication is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Administration for Community Living).  It does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding authority.  P&A does not discriminate on the basis of disability, race, color, creed, national origin, ethnicity, ancestry, citizenship, age, religion, sex or sexual orientation, veteran status, or any other class protected by law in the provision of its programs or services.  Pete Cantrell is P&A’s designated coordinator for Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.     AT – October 2019

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