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UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

OFFICE OF SPECIAL EDUCATION AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES

     

    22 IDELR 373
    2 ECLPR  93
    Galloway, Letter to (Assistive Technology)
    Office of Special Education Programs
    Mr. Jaime Galloway
    Superintendent
    North Dakota School for the Deaf
    1401 College Drive
    Devils Lake, North Dakota 58301-1596
    Digest of Inquiry
    March 28, 1994

    • Which public agency is responsible for the purchase of a hearing aid if a child's IEP indicates that the device is necessary--the home school district or a state-supported school for the deaf?
    • Should a state's regulation, which provides that parents will assume the costs for personal items such as hearing aids, be amended to include the statement "unless otherwise specified in the IEP for educational purposes"?

    Digest of Response
    December 22, 1994
    State Determines Which Public Agency Must Pay for Assistive Technology Device

    If the IEP of a child with a disability indicates that he/she requires an assistive technology device such as a hearing aid as part of his/her special education, then the responsible public agency would be required to provide the device at no cost to the parents. In the situation where a child attends a state-supported school for the deaf, the determination as to whether the child's home school district or the state school for the deaf must pay for the device is a matter of state law, regulation, or policy. Part B does not prohibit the responsible public agency from seeking funds from sources other than the parents, and ultimately, the state is responsible for ensuring FAPE.

    State's Regulation Regarding Financial Responsibility for Personal Items Required Amendment

    A state's regulation, which provided that parents were to assume costs for personal items such as hearing aids, required an additional statement explaining that if such items were specified on the child's IEP as a necessary part of the child's FAPE, they would be provided at no cost to the parents.

    Text of Inquiry
    Enclosed is North Dakota Century Code (NDCC) 15-59-02.1 as it relates to hearing aids and responsibility for purchasing. [omitted] Also enclosed is a letter you sent Dr. Peter Seiler, Supt., Illinois School for the Deaf, in regards to individual hearing aids. [omitted; see 20 IDELR 1216]

    My understanding is that hearing aids could be covered under the definition given with assistive technology devices, Part B of IDEA, if specified in the IEP that a child needs the hearing aid(s) for education purposes.

    My questions to you are--Who is responsible to purchase the hearing aids if the IEP indicates they are necessary? Would this be the responsibility of the home school district or the state supported school for the deaf?

    Should language be added to the NDCC that would include a statement "unless otherwise specified in the IEP for educational purposes"?

    I await your reply.

    Text of Response
    This is response to your letter to the Office of Special Education Programs seeking answers to several questions concerning hearing aides as assistive technology devices under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Part B). Specifically, you want to know who is responsible for the purchase of the hearing aid if the individualized education program (IEP) indicates that the hearing aid is necessary? Would it be the responsibility of the home school district or the state supported school for the deaf? You also ask if Section 15-59-02.1 of the North Dakota Century Code (NDCC)1 should be amended to include the statement "unless otherwise specified in the IEP for educational purposes."

    Under Part B, each State must ensure that a free appropriate public education (FAPE) is made available to all children with disabilities within mandated age ranges residing within the State. 20 U.S.C. 1412(1). FAPE means, in part, special education and related services provided in conformity with an individualized educational program (IEP). 20 U.S.C. 1402(a)(18). The IEP for each child with a disability must contain a statement of the special education and related services to be provided to the child, as well as, a statement of the needed supplementary aids and services. 34 C.F.R. 300.346(a)(3) and 34 C.F.R. Part 300, Appendix C, Question 48. Thus, if a child with a disability requires an assistive technology device as part of his/her special education, related services or supplementary aids and services, that need must be reflected within the child's IEP. Under these circumstances, the responsible public agency would be required to provide the assistive technology device to the child at no cost to his/her parents. See, 34 C.F.R. 300.308. Nothing in Part B, however, would preclude the public agency from seeking funds from outside the agency so long as there was no cost to the child or his/her parents. The State is ultimately responsible for ensuring that a free appropriate public education (FAPE) is made available to all children with disabilities within the mandated age ranges residing within the State. The determination of which public agency within the State (i.e., local educational agency or State school for the deaf) is responsible for providing FAPE (inclusive of an assistive technology device that is part of a child's special education, related services, or supplementary aids and services) is a matter of State law, regulation or policy. See, 20 U.S.C. 1412(6) and 34 C.F.R. 300.600.

    Based upon our review of NDCC Section 15-59-02.1, we believe that it would be necessary for the State to amend this provision to the extent that it relates to parents' financial responsibility for items which may be part of an individual child's FAPE (i.e., hearing aids) and, as such, would have to be provided at no cost to the parent. Our office has contacted the appropriate persons within the State concerning this issue. The State Educational Agency has indicated that it will make the necessary changes.

    I hope that this information is helpful to you. If I may be of further assistance, please let me know.

    Thomas Hehir
    Director
    Office of Special Education Programs

    1 NDCC 15-59-02.1 provides in part:
    Parents will assume such costs for a child with disabilities as they would if the child was nondisabled. Personal items, including hearing aids, eyeglasses, routine medical expenses, physical exams, medications, and all items necessary for a child who is nondisabled, will be the financial responsibility of the parent.

    2 "'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 the functional capabilities of children with disabilities." 34 C.F.R. 300.5
     

     
     

400 MARYLAND AVE., S.W., WASHINGTON, D.C. 20202


22 IDELR 373
2 ECLPR  93

Requests for a copy of the original letter, or questions regarding the letter, may be directed to OSEP.  
 

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