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Assistive Technology

Consideration of assistive technology (AT), in the context of IEP development, review, or revision is intended to be a collaborative process in which team members determine whether AT devices, supports, or services are needed for the learner with disabilities to: 

Consideration may necessitate that the IEP team include (or have access to) someone who has knowledge about AT or who can guide the team in considering AT in the context of what they know about the learner. 

Consider areas where the learner relies on others and whether AT could help them be more independent.  AT may be considered for mobility, hearing, vision, communication, computer access, reading, written language, positioning & seating, and recreation.

Assistive technology supports and devices may be simple, no-cost adaptations, built-in accessibility features, or high-tech equipment. 

For each IEP developed, the team must consider and determine if assistive technology is a special factor that needs to be addressed for a learner.  

The following questions may be helpful to IEP teams as they consider assistive technology:

Is there a specific task that is difficult for this learner? Would assistive technology support the learner with this task?
Some examples are:

  • The learner has difficulty communicating wants and needs.
  • The learner struggles to follow auditory directions provided by the teacher only.
  • The learner cannot access grade level content in reading or math.
  • The learner’s writing is illegible. 
  • The learner is not able to write with the same speed or accuracy as peers. 
  • The learner shows evidence of listening fatigue such as distraction, frustration, exhaustion, or preferring to be alone in difficult listening situations.
  • The learner cannot visually access print as written on the whiteboard/textbook/environment.
  • The learner is not able to physically or visually access the environment. This may include the bus, lunchroom, classroom, hallways, desk/tables etc.
Is there a device, software, product or strategy that may allow the learner to perform this task with greater accuracy, ease or independence?
An AT device is 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 the functional capabilities of a learner with a disability. This does not include medical devices that are surgically implanted.

Examples of AT devices include:

Behavior – visual supports such as first/then chart

Communication – augmentative or alternative communication device (AAC), visual supports

Computer Access – adaptive keyboard, mouse pointer, larger monitor

Hearing – classroom amplification, captioning services, headphones

Math – calculator, digital graphing tools

Reading – graphic organizer, text reader, page fluffer

Seating & Mobility – gait trainer, walkers, positioning supports, cane (including adaptive mobility devices)

Vision – electronic braille display or notetaker, magnification including built-in options, screen reader

Written Language – pencil grip, word processing, dictation, speech-to-text

If the school district is using technology, hardware and/or software, for all learners in the classroom, the team should consider whether or not that technology is assistive technology for this learner. If, what the learner is using, increases, maintains or improves the learner’s functional performance, then it would be a special factor and documented within the learner’s IEP. In addition, if a family purchased a device and wants the learner to use it at school, the team should consider whether or not the device is assistive technology for the learner. If the device increases, maintains, or improves the learner’s functional performance, then it would be a special factor and documented within the learner’s IEP.

Does the learner require assistive technology for working or living?
A learner’s IEP team must also address and determine if the learner requires access to any school purchased assistive technology in the learner’s home or school supported employment in order to receive FAPE.  

Examples of assistive technology that may support living or working outcomes could include:

Text reader for job duties

Augmentative or alternative communication device (AAC)

Timer or App to for reminders


If the IEP team would answer YES to any of the questions above, then the IEP team should identify ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY as a special factor. The IEP team will then need to determine if the learner requires AT supports, services or activities, as described below, to receive FAPE.  If specific devices or equipment are required, then they would be described as assistive technology devices in the IEP.

If the IEP team answers NO to all questions, then the consideration process would stop. There would no longer be a need to consider the next section because ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY would NOT be a special factor.


Defining Assistive Technology Devices, Supports, and Services


Assistive Technology Supports
AT supports are events or tasks that the learner needs to complete in order to take advantage of or respond to educational programs and opportunities. They are less regular and less systematic than services, therefore, do not need to be linked to a goal, require a designated number of minutes, or progress monitoring. The team will need to specify who will implement the support.

Examples of AT supports:

  • Consulting on the needs of a learner with regard to assistive technology in the learner’s educational environment
  • Selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing AT
  • Purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology
  • Coordinating AT activities and services with other service providers
  • Training opportunities for staff and families
  • Providing aided language stimulation/modeling to learners who use augmentative/alternative communication (AAC)
  • Troubleshooting technology and remediating problems
  • Daily listening check performed on hearing assistive technology
Assistive Technology Services
AT services are actions designed to meet the unique needs of a learner or are required to assist the learner to take advantage of or respond to educational programs and opportunities. Services are regular and ongoing actions delivered to or on behalf of a learner over time, and are linked to IEP goal(s). The IEP must reflect the number of minutes of service, the frequency of service, the setting where service is provided and the provider(s) responsible.

AT services are generally not provided as a standalone service.  Professionals may provide AT services in an integrated manner under their discipline-specific service (e.g. Speech Language Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, Teachers addressing unique needs of students with hearing or vision loss).

Assistive Technology Devices
If specialized assistive technology equipment or systems (as defined above in question #2) are required for a learner to have FAPE, then this should be specifically described in the IEP as an Assistive Technology Device

Assistive Technology and AEM Resources

Further resources are available on the i3 special education resources page.

Additional resources are also available on the Iowa Department of Education Assistive Technology (AT) Page and Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) Page.