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Assistive Technology (AT)

Assistive technology is any tool or device that a student with a disability uses to perform a task that he or she could not otherwise do or any tool the student uses to do a task more easily, faster, or in a better way.  It may be a simple “low tech” device such as a pencil grip or an expensive “high tech” device such as an iPad.

What Special Education Laws Say Regarding Assistive Technology

The individualized education program (IEP) for a child must consider whether the child requires assistive technology devices and services. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act defines these requirements for assistive technology:

  • Assistive Technology Device
    Assistive technology device means 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 a child with a disability. The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of that device. (34 CFR §300.5)
  • Assistive Technology Service
    Assistive technology service means any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. Assistive technology service means any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. The term includes—
    (a) The evaluation of the needs of a child with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the child in the child's customary environment;
    (b) Purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by children with disabilities;
    (c) Selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing assistive technology devices;
    (d) Coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs;
    (e) Training or technical assistance for a child with a disability or, if appropriate, that child's family; and
    (f) Training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals providing education or rehabilitation services), employers, or other individuals who provide services to, employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of that child.
    (34 CFR §300.6)
  • Consideration of special factors
    The IEP Team must(v) Consider whether the child needs assistive technology devices and services.(34 CFR §300.324(a)(2)(v))
  • Assistive technology
    1. Each public agency must ensure that assistive technology devices or assistive technology services, or both, as those terms are defined in Sec. 300.5 and 300.6, respectively, are made available to a child with a disability if required as a part of the child's—

      1. Special education under Sec. 300.36;
      2. Related services under Sec. 300.34; or
      3. Supplementary aids and services under Sec. Sec. 300.38 and 300.114(a)(2)(ii).
    2. On a case-by-case basis, the use of school-purchased assistive technology devices in a child's home or in other settings is required if the child's IEP Team determines that the child needs access to those devices in order to receive FAPE.  (34 CFR §300.105

Statewide AT Lending Libraries

  • The Department of Public Instruction provides leadership and funding for a statewide Assistive Technology Lending Center (ATLC) through one of our IDEA discretionary grants. The ATLC is a lending library of high-end Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) equipment. The ATLC provides high-end AAC devices for loan to Wisconsin LEA public school licensed professional educators for trial with children ages 3 to 18 who have IEPs and are enrolled in public schools or students age 19-21 who are enrolled in a Wisconsin LEA school program and have an IEP. You can access the loan center at
  • Wisconsin AT4ALL
  • Wisconsin Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired Loan Program