How to Build Your Case for Assistive Technology

Provided by: MDA Publications and written by Alyssa Quintero

A blind request for AT or LD services is more likely to result in a “no.” A knowledgeable request can be made by incorporating reports, evaluations, test results and your own observations.

Because independent evaluations and consultations are expensive, parents should start by requesting a school-funded evaluation. If there’s been a change in physical skills or academic performance, or if a parent wants an updated evaluation, an IEP meeting must be held to discuss it.
At the meeting, present evidence of your child’s changes in physical or academic abilities by tracking grades, displaying samples of the child’s work and documenting the child’s ability to complete homework. Share photos or videos of the child’s physical abilities at home.

The IEP team has the final say, so the more hard data and documentation you can present, the better the chances of getting an evaluation.
In some cases, the school district may pay for a private evaluator if it doesn’t have the personnel to conduct an evaluation recommended by the IEP team, or if the district agrees that an independent evaluation is necessary for some other reason.

But if the district refuses to do an evaluation, or if the district’s evaluator recommends something parents believe is not appropriate, then parents may choose to get their own independent evaluation. In this case, parents are responsible for the cost, which can vary based on the extent of the evaluation.

Independent educational evaluators can help show how physical or learning disabilities impact the child’s education, and why a particular service is needed to offset this impact. And since they don’t answer to the school district, they may provide more objective evaluations.

When parents present data from independent evaluations, the IEP team is required to consider these evaluations before making a final decision, says Wayne Steedman, a special education law attorney and advocate in Baltimore.

Steedman recommends that the independent evaluator or expert be present at the IEP meeting to thoroughly explain the recommendations and answer questions.

To find an independent educational consultant or evaluator, check out Wrightslaw’s Yellow Pages for Kids (www.yellowpagesforkids.com), which lists several resources by state. Or, contact local Parent Training and Information Centers (www.parentcenternetwork.org/national/resources.html) to find experts and resources in your area.

Find Support

Connect with other parents about Assistive Technology.

Visit the My Child Without Limits support community and talk to parents, caregivers, and professionals about their experiences.

Resources:

Looking for more information on Assistive Technology and Individualized Service Plans?

Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA)
(877) 687-2842 (877) 687-2842
www.atia.org

Alliance for Technology Access
(707) 778-3011 (707) 778-3011
www.ataccess.org

National Assistive Technology Technical Assistance Partnership (NATTAP)
(703) 524-6686 (703) 524-6686
www.resnaprojects.org/nattap/#content

DisabilityInfo.gov (AT resources)
www.disability.gov/technology