Checklist: What to Ask the School Before Choosing a Tool or Device

By Amanda Morin
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Kids who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 plan sometimes need assistive technology (AT) to help them learn. You and the school can work together to choose the right tools for your child. Asking questions along the way can help. Here are some questions to consider asking.

Assistive Technology and Your Child’s Needs

  • How will AT help my child learn more successfully? Will it help my child become a more independent learner?

  • Which of my child’s issues will this tool address? How will it help my child work around challenges?

  • Which of my child’s strengths will work well with certain tools or devices? (For example, a child who has trouble reading but has good listening skills might do well with audiobooks.)

  • What will be done to make sure my child doesn’t become too dependent on AT?

  • How will we know if AT is helping my child at school?

  • My child’s needs may change, and new or upgraded AT may be available. Will my child’s AT be reevaluated every year?

Assessment of Assistive Technology

  • What professionals are qualified to assess the tool or device?

  • Does the school have such a professional on staff?

  • If not, with whom do they contract?

  • What are the evaluator’s credentials?

  • What happens during an assessment?

  • What is considered when evaluating AT?

  • Will my child be able to try out various tools and devices?

  • What will be included in the evaluation report?

  • What happens after the assessment is complete?

  • How long does it take to get the tools after they’re agreed on?

Assistive Technology Settings and Situations

  • Who will receive training on how to use the tool? Who does the training?

  • When and how often will my child use AT during the school day?

  • Can my child use the tool during school vacations?

  • Can my child use AT when taking standardized tests?

  • What other services will my child need in order to use the tool effectively? Does it need to work with other technologies?

  • If the tool will be used in more than one place, how portable is it?

  • How reliable is the tool?

  • What technical support is available?

  • Who’s responsible for maintaining, repairing, or replacing the device?

  • If a device is broken, will the school supply a substitute while it’s being repaired?

  • What happens to my child’s device if we change schools? What about when my child moves up to middle school or high school?

  • What happens to the device when my child graduates?

By asking these questions, you’ll get information and position yourself as a partner with the school. Your questions might even help steer them toward a better, more helpful AT tool for your child.

About the Author

About the Author

Amanda Morin 

worked as a classroom teacher and as an early intervention specialist for 10 years. She is the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education. Two of her children have learning differences.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Jessica Millstone, EdM, MPS 

works with BrainPOP, focusing on improving teaching and learning through the integration of innovative technologies.

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