UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
OFFICE OF SPECIAL EDUCATION AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES
22 IDELR 373
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?
Digest of Response
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
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
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.
1 NDCC §15-59-02.1 provides in part:
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
Requests for a copy of the original letter, or questions
regarding the letter, may be directed to OSEP.