What is Assistive Technology?

What is Assistive Technology?

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Definition

The term 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 such device.

The term 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. Such term includes...

(A) the evaluation of the needs of such child, 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 such child;

(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 such child, or, where appropriate, the family of such child; and

(F) training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals providing education and rehabilitation services), employers, or other individuals who provide services to, employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of such child.

AT Categories

There are many categories of assistive technology. When considering assistive technology for a student, it is important to look at each of these categories.

Aids for Daily Living


Computer Access




Positioning, Seating, Mobility





Assistive Technology Considerations

Per IDEA 2004, assistive technology needs to be considered for every student with an IEP, regardless of their disability. It is the responsibility of every IEP team to consider the student's need for assistive technology. Although consideration can occur at many stages of a student's educational journey, it must always be done as part of a team's discussion of special factors at a student's annual review and three-year reevaluation. Consideration is based on the unique IEP goals, IEP benchmarks or objectives, and curricular goals of a student. In addition, a range of assistive technology should be considered, including low/light, mid, and high tech. An IEP team may find that a student requires a system of tools. For example, a student who struggles with the motor aspects of writing may require the following system of tools: adapted pencil for short answers, a word processor for note taking and paragraph writing of one to three paragraphs, and speech recognition software for writing over three paragraphs. Below are some resources that can help guide IEP teams as they work through the consideration process. It is not mandatory to complete this paperwork and attach it to the IEP, but these are recommended resources that team should reference. The IEP team should document the AT Consideration conversation in the Additional Notes page of a student's IEP.

WATI AT Consideration Guide
This guide was developed by the Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative (WATI) and is highly recommended for IEP teams as they work through the consideration process.

QIAT AT Consideration Guide
This guide was developed by the Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology (QIAT) Leadership Team. It is another recommended resource for IEP teams as they work through the assistive technology consideration process.

For additional information regarding assistive technology, please contact Special Education Services Division, Illinois State Board of Education, at (217) 782-5589 or (800)-852-5100, https://www.iltech.org

Homer C.C.S.D. 33C is also a member of Infinitec.

Infinitec, which stands for infinite potential through technology, is the technology program of UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago. The mission of Infinitec is to advance independence and promote inclusive opportunities for children and adults with disabilities through technology..

Infinitec offers four pillars of service:

Training and Education includes face-to-face and distance learning for professional development.

Information Services consists of extensive web and hard copy resources. An additional innovative resource is InfiniTEXT, an online, accessible instructional materials collection which provides access to over 11,000 digital text files for qualified K-12 students with print disabilities.

Access to Expertise includes access to highly experienced technical assistance staff.

Equipment Services includes discount purchase programs and a lending library of equipment for the state of Illinois.