Parents sometimes get the impression from some school administrators - superintendents, principals, special education and special services people - that school is not required to provide a device or service because it is “too expensive” or because it “only benefits one student.” Neither expense nor one-student use is a valid reason to deny assistive technology devices or services that are necessary for providing FAPE.
Parents and school administrators know that the bottom line is this: schools must provide supplemental aids, services and adaptive equipment necessary for students with disabilities to participate in and benefit from school. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) strengthens the educational planning process. This law emphasizes that access to the general curriculum must be meaningful for students with disabilities. IDEA also requires that consideration of assistive technology be a part of every IEP Team planning. If you and your school do not agree whether school-related assistive devices and services are necessary for your child there are steps you can take.
Your school is required to have grievance and appeal procedures for you to use when school refuses to provide educational program changes, modifications, devices or services you believe are necessary for your child to benefit from education. Your special education or special services director, 504 coordinator, principal or superintendent can give you information about grievance and appeal procedures.
Maine’s Office of Special Services within the Department of Education has information about your school’s responsibility to provide free, appropriate, public education. The Maine Department of Education Special Education Team can give you information to help make your school’s assistive technology responsibilities clear. Parents always have the right to pursue actions through the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) , too. Contact information for the OCR Boston regional office is found in the Resource Section.
In most cases, yes. Maintenance, repair and replacement would be required under a number of federal laws.
Your student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) needs to state clearly what assistive technology devices and services are required for education, how those devices and services will be bought, or provided, maintained, repaired or replaced as necessary. Your child’s educational plan under 504 should be specific enough to include providing, maintaining, repairing and replacing necessary school-related equipment and services.
Parents’ participation in the IEP Team process is important. Plan before your child begins school, talk with IEP Team members about the educational use of the equipment you believe your child needs to benefit from education. As a member of your child’s IEP Team, help decide how devices will be maintained, repaired and replaced. Make sure your child’s IEP clearly states responsibilities about providing, maintaining, repairing and replacing equipment.
If your school refuses to maintain, repair or replace your child’s school-related equipment, talk to your special education or special services director or your school’s 504 coordinator. They know about laws and regulations that define your school’s responsibility to provide necessary aids and services at no cost to families.
Yes. Work with your team of professionals, with your doctors, with your school special services staff. When you get “no” in answer to your request for assistive technology, move toward “yes.” Learn what resources help pay for assistive technology. Talk with your professional staff, with contact people from parent organizations and agencies listed in the Resources section of this Guidebook. Talk with other parents. The more you learn through these contacts, the more certain you will be to assure that devices and services will be available where and when your child needs them.
Families of infants and young children (0 - 2 years) should use Maine’s Child Development Services (CDS) system to find out how to get your child’s needed assistive technology. CDS offices throughout Maine support the provision of services to families whose children have disabilities or special needs.
Your local CDS office is responsible for finding and coordinating the resources to pay for your family’s services. The office is responsible for developing with your family and your service providers an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) to get what your young child (age 0 - 2) needs, including assistive technology devices and services. For children age 3 to 5, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is written.
Your local CDS office should have information about federal, state and local resources that provide or pay for assistive devices and services.
Families whose children have disabilities usually have one or more regularly visiting professional staff members. These professionals should know about programs that provide or pay for equipment and services. Case Managers should be able to help you find resources for your child’s assistive technology.
If you do not have a public worker, call your local office of Public or Community Health Nursing to find out how to get a regularly visiting worker.
Public programs that pay for or provide assistive technology have eligibility requirements. Programs offered by Maine Care, Coordinated Care Services for Children with Special Needs, Bureau of Rehabilitation’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program and Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired base eligibility on one or more of the following: age, income, medical necessity, type or degree of disability, employment potential.
Public programs are required to have appeal procedures for you to follow if a program determines that your family or child is not eligible for its benefits. Each program is required to explain appeal procedures. If your eligibility is denied, ask the program’s contact person what appeal procedures you need to follow.
Maine’s mPower Program lends money to purchase assistive technology equipment - at low interest - to families, individuals, schools and businesses whose credit standing qualifies them for a loan. Sliding scale interest charges can be as low as zero-percent and only as high as the current prime rate. Terms are flexible and can be extended as long as 20 years.
If your eligibility for a public program is denied, or if the public program does not pay for the assistive technology devices and services your child needs, the mPower Program might be helpful to your family. To apply for a loan, contact the Alpha One office closest to you.