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UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

OFFICE OF SPECIAL EDUCATION AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES

     

    1 ECLPR  215
    Lambert, Letter to (Assistive Technology)
    Office of Special Education Programs
    Ms. Connie Lambert
    Alcorn Central High School
    Route 2, Box 280
    Glen, MS 38846
    Digest of Inquiry
    September 10, 1991

    • Would multiplication tables or a calculator be classified as "assistive technology" for a student with a learning disability in a regular education math class?
    • If teacher allows a student with a language/speech impairment to use a tape recorder in class and to obtain a copy of a good student's notes, is the teacher also obligated to provide the student with a copy of teacher-made notes?

    Digest of Response
    April 24, 1992
    Calculators May Be Assistive Technology Devices
    For a student with a learning disability in a regular education class, a calculator could fit the definition of an assistive technology device under Part B because it is "an item, piece of equipment, or product system which can be used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities" of the student. However, multiplication tables would probably not qualify as assistive technology devices, but could fall into the category of special education or supplementary aids necessary to facilitate education in a regular environment. Access to Teacher's Notes Is an IEP Issue.

    The obligation to provide teacher-made notes to a student with a speech/language impairment is an issue for discussion at the IEP meeting. If the IEP includes a provision requiring that the student be provided teacher-made notes, then the teacher is obligated to implement the service as stated in the IEP.

    Text of Inquiry
    As a special education teacher, I would really appreciate some direct answers to two questions:
    1. Would multiplication tables or a calculator be classified as "assistive technology" for a learning disabled student in a regular general math class. This student is pursuing a diploma.
    2. If a teacher is willing to allow a language/speech impaired child to use a tape recorder in class and to obtain a copy of a good student's notes, is that teacher also obligated to provide a copy of teacher-made notes?

    These students are of normal intelligence, have obtained a driver's permit, and apparently function in life as well or better than the so-called "average" population. The IEP committee does not believe that these requests are valid. However, the parents do not agree with our decisions. Besides modifications be done in the regular classes, tutoring is available for these students in the resource room. I know that these are trivial questions for a person who has the overwhelming responsibility in attempting to meet the needs of all special education students. However, "assistive technology" seems to be such a broad term, and I cannot rationalize changing the specifications for regular classes for students who are not willing to do the work or are not capable of mastering the work. We do modify as much as possible, tutor through the Special Education program, and offer resource classes in basic skills. I want to be fair to the special education students, but also not discriminate against the other students that are in these regular classes.

    I would appreciate your response, and any guidance you could give me.

    Text of Response
    This is in response to your letter dated September 30, 1991, inquiring about the use of assistive technology in a regular education general mathematics class, as well as posing a question concerning the provision of a teacher's classroom notes for a student with a language/speech impairment. Your letter does not specifically state that the students about which you are inquiring have disabilit[ies] that require special education and related services.

    Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Part B) requires that all eligible children and youth who are evaluated and determined to have disabilities must be provided a free appropriate public education (FAPE), which includes the provision of special education and related services without charge, in conformity with an individualized education program (IEP). See 34 CFR 300.4 and 300.121. Part B further requires that "special classes, separate schooling or other removal of children [with disabilities] from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the [disability] is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily." See 34 CFR 300.550(b(2). Enclosed is a copy of the Federal regulations implementing Part B, which will provide you with information regarding all of the Part B requirements. OSEP's response to each of your questions, consistent with the Part B requirements, is set forth below:

    1. Would multiplication tables or a calculator be classified as "assistive technology" for a learning disabled student in a regular general math class[?] This student is pursuing a diploma. In an August 10, 1990 letter to Ms. Susan Goodman (copy enclosed), concerning a public agency's obligation to provide assistive technology to a child with disabilities, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) stated that assistive technology could be special education, a related service, or a supplementary aid and service. OSEP further stated that a child's need for assistive technology must be determined on a case-by-case basis.

    Subsequent to the response to Ms. Goodman, the Education of the Handicapped Act Amendments of 1990, Public Law 101-476, added to the list of terms defined by the statute, "assistive technology device" and "assistive technology service." "Assistive technology device" as defined by Public Law 101-476 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 individuals with disabilities." See 20 U.S.C. 1401(a)(25). The incorporation of this definition served "to clarify the broad range of assistive devices and related services that are available, and to increase the awareness of assistive technology as an important component of meeting the special education and related services needs of many students with disabilities, and thus enable them to participate in, and benefit from, educational programs." See H. Rpt. 301-544, pages 8-9 (1990).

    Since a calculator fits within the definition of an item, piece of equipment, or product system and could be used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability, it could, under some circumstances, be "assistive technology" under Part B. The participants developing the IEP for a particular child must determine the assistive technology that is necessary for the child to receive FAPE. To the extent that the assistive technology constitutes special education or a related service, the IEP must include a specific statement describing the nature and amount of such service. See 34 CFR 300.346(c). The need for a calculator as a supplementary aid could similarly be specified by the IEP team or by the placement team if it were related to placement in the least restrictive environment. It seems that the use of a multiplication table would be more likely to fall in the category of special education or, perhaps, be considered a supplementary aid necessary to facilitate education in a regular environment. The determination of whether it would be special education or a supplementary aid for an individual child and necessary to provide FAPE would be a determination made by she IEP team. If a teacher is willing to allow a language/speech impaired child to use a tape recorder in class and to obtain a copy of a good student's notes, is that teacher also obligated to provide a copy of teacher-made notes?

    Part B requires that special education and related services must be provided to a child with disabilities in conformity with an IEP. See 34 CFR 300.4(a) and (d). The public agency is responsible for initiating and conducting a meeting to develop, review, or revise the IEP. See 34 CFR 300.343(a). The IEP must include a statement of the specific special education and related services to be provided to the child, and the extent to which the child will be able to participate in regular educational programs. See 34 CFR 300.346(c). Thus, the obligation to provide an individual with teacher-made notes, to permit the use of a tape recorder in class, and/or to permit the individual student to obtain a copy of another student's class notes, are all issues and decisions appropriate for discussion and resolution at the IEP meeting. If the IEP includes specific statements requiring that the student must be provided teacher-made notes, then the teacher is obligated to implement the services stated in the IEP. See 34 CFR 300.349. I hope that this information is helpful to you. If I can provide further assistance, please let me know.

    Judy A. Schrag
    Director
    Office of Special Education Programs
     

     
     

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


1 ECLPR  215

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

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