Assistive Technology & the Law


    A.T. services means any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition or use of an assistive technology device. This includes:

    • The evaluation of the A.T. needs of a child;
    • Acquisition of A.T. devices
    • Customizing and repairing of A.T. devices
    • Coordination with other therapies (O.T., P.T., S.T.) and interventions
    • Training for the child
    • Training or technical assistance for professionals

    A knowledgeable, supportive network of people working together to help every IEP Team choose and provide appropriate A.T. devices and services.


    • OAR 581-015-2000 (2) Assistive Technology Device
    • “...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 functional capabilities of children with disabilities. The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of such a device.”


    • Every IEP Team is required to “consider” the student’s need for assistive technology. When the team “considers” assistive technology, that process should involve some discussion and examination of potential assistive technology. The I.E.P. team may use a number of forms, questionnaires, and checklists to help decide whether A.T. should be considered. The SETT Scaffold for Consideration of AT Needs" which was developed for this purpose and can be attached to the I.E.P for documentation that A.T. was considered in the development of the I.E.P.
      • Consideration is a brief process, one that can take place within every IEP meeting without unduly extending it.
      • It is more than someone saying, “Oh, that doesn’t apply to my students.”
      • At least one person on the IEP Team must have some knowledge about assistive technology, because you cannot “consider” something about which you know nothing.
      • In order to think about whether assistive technology would be helpful or not, the IEP team would have to have already developed the bulk of the IEP in order for them to know what it is they expect the student to be able to do twelve months from now.
      • The annual goals that the student is expected to accomplish will be the focus of the discussion about what assistive technology, if any, might assist or allow the student to accomplish them.
    • Because some IEP teams need more guidance than that single question provides, Zabala, J.S. (2005) Assistive Technology Consideration Guide has also developed a tool to further guide the IEP Team at this point. It is called the SETT Scaffold for Consideration of AT Needs. The SETT Scaffold for Consideration of AT Needs leads the IEP Team through a series of questions designed to help them determine whether the student does or does not “need” assistive technology devices or services. Those questions are:
      • What task is it that we want this student to do, that s/he is unable to do at a level that reflects his/her skills/abilities (writing, reading, communicating, seeing, hearing)? On the SETT Scaffold for Consideration of AT Needs, check each relevant task. Tasks that are not relevant to the student’s IEP are left blank.
      • Identify specific tasks in the identified area(s) that are difficult or impossible at this time at the expected level of independence.
      • Describe the special strategies, accommodations, and tools that are currently being used to lower barriers to the task. Is there currently assistive technology (devices, tools, hardware, or software) used to address this task? If any assistive technology tools are currently being used (or were tried in the past, including recent assessment), they are described here, in A).
      • Are there continuing barriers encountered when the student attempts this task? If so, describe?
      • Describe new or additional assistive technology to be tried to address continuing barriers, or indicate a need for further investigation. 

    SUMMARY OF THE CONSIDERATION: If the team has determined that a need exists, describe what will be provided (more specific assessment of need for assistive technology, existing tools, adaptation or modification of existing tools; additional tools; technical assistance on device operation or use, training of student, staff, family, etc.


    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (I.D.E.A.) was initially passed in 1975 as P.L. 94-142. That law, known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, or the E.H.A., guaranteed that eligible children and youth with disabilities would have a free and appropriate public education (F.A.P.E) available to them, designed to meet their unique educational needs. P.L. 94-142 has been amended many times since passing in 1975, most recently in 2004.

    For more information about I.D.E.A, visit the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act website.


    Public Law 105-394 [29 USC 2201]

    • the establishment of assistive technology (AT) demonstration centers, information centers, equipment loan facilities, referral services, and other consumer-oriented programs;
    • protection and advocacy services to help people with disabilities and their families, as they attempt to acess the services for which they are eligible;
    • Federal/state programs to provide low interest loans and other alternative financing options to help people with disabilities purchase needed assistive technology.

Examples of A.T. in a Variety of Categories


    • Pencil grip
    • Adapted paper
    • Slant board
    • Prewritten words
    • Templates
    • Portable word processor
    • Computer with word processing


    • Use of picture symbols with text
    • Talking electronic device to speak challenging words
    • Single word scanners
    • Talking word processor
    • Electronic books


    • Calculator with large keypad
    • Adapted measuring devices (e.g., devices with speech output, large print display, or tactile output)


    • Communication board with pictures/words/objects
    • Eye gaze frame
    • Simple voice output device (speech generating device) with icon sequencing
    • Voice output device with dynamic display
    • Voice output device with speech synthesis
    • Text based device


    • Adapted eating aids
    • Adapted dressing aids
    • Adapted cooking ad food preparation
    • Adaptive devices for hygiene
    • Adaptive bathing devices


    • Knobs for puzzles
    • Arm support for drawing/painting
    • Spinners for games
    • Switch accessible toys
    • Power control units
    • Games on the computer


    • Key guard
    • Arm support
    • Track ball/joystick with on-screen keyboard
    • Alternate keyboard
    • Pointing options/head mice
    • Switch with scanning
    • Voice recognition software


    • Magnifier
    • Large print books
    • Screen magnifier
    • Screen color contrast
    • Screen reader, text reader
    • Braille materials


    • Signal device
    • Flash alert signal on computer
    • Personal amplification system/hearing aid
    • FM or Loop system
    • Infrared system


    • Seating and Positioning
      • Standard seat/workstation at correct height and depth
      • Modifications to standard seat & desk
      • Non-slip surface on chair
      • Bolster, rolled towel, blocks for feet
      • Adapted/alternate chair, sidelyer, stander
      • Custom fitted wheelchair or insert
    • Mobility
      • Walking Devices-crutches/walker
      • Grab bars and rails
      • Manual Wheelchair
      • Powered scooter, toy car or cart
      • Powered wheelchair with joystick or other control