Who Pays for Assistive Technology? Parents or Schools?
Melody Musgrove, EdD
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Question: I know school districts have to consider whether a child needs assistive technology. But who covers the cost? Parents or the school?
In general, schools must provide and pay for
assistive technology (AT) for students who need it. That’s the case under both
. These are two laws that cover students with disabilities.
IDEA, students get services and supports through an
. A school must provide AT devices and services the
IEP team decides the child needs in order to:
Access the educational content
Participate in class
Demonstrate what she knows and what she can do
IEP teams must consider AT as part of developing a plan to meet each student’s unique needs. If the team determines your child needs AT, they may have a specialist do an evaluation to figure out which type of technology is best for your child. (You can also request an AT evaluation if the school doesn’t bring it up.)
Section 504 isn’t as direct as IDEA about providing AT to students. But if a child needs AT to participate in school, it can be covered in a
If your child has a 504 plan and you think she needs AT, ask the 504 team to evaluate her needs. The team must also consider any evaluation information you may already have.
Schools must pay for whatever AT the IEP or 504 team
determines is needed. They can’t say they don’t have the funds, or that the devices or services aren’t available. And parents can’t be required to use private or public insurance to pay for AT for kids who have been identified under IDEA or 504.
Under both laws, use of the technology isn’t limited to just while the student is at school. A student will likely also need the AT at home for homework and studying. So the device can go back and forth, even though it belongs to the school. If your child is no longer enrolled at the school, however, she can’t take the device with her.
Schools must also provide teachers and students with any training that’s needed to properly use the AT. The training should be included in your child’s IEP or 504 plan.