AT devices include any special equipment or technology that children may need to help them participate in school. Identified in the IDEA 2004 as "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 children with disabilities. The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of such device".

AT services are required for the selection, acquisition, and/or use of these devices.  Any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device.

The 1997 revision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that IEP teams consider whether assistive technology (AT) is needed for the student, regardless of disability. The intent is to implement a process whereby effective tools are regularly considered, identified, and integrated when needed, into the lives of students with disabilities (Hasselbring, Lott, & Zydney, 2006). Technology is a tool used by many people in their daily life tasks, so it should increasingly be considered as a tool to address the specific challenges of students who are in need of specialized interventions. Success in the AT consideration process gives students tools that offer access to the general education curriculum.

Assistive technology can be the bridge to enabling a student with a disability to participate in the least restrictive environment, a key component of the 2004 reauthorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA). At each annual review, the IEP team has a chance to "get the conditions right" by considering whether the child needs assistive technology devices and services to more fully participate and receive a free, appropriate public education (FAPE)

The purpose of AT consideration is to determine whether or not AT is needed in order for a student to access a FAPE in the least restrictive environment (LRE).

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