Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 6651 MSFocus Summer 2016 The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 requires all local educational agencies (LEAs) to provide assistive technology (AT) to students who need it in order to receive a no-cost, public education. Students with learning disabilities are included under the “special education” umbrella, and have the right to be provided with appropriate assistive devices to aid in their academic success. The range of assistive technology is wide and could take the form of a simple device with a tilted surface to ease handwriting, or a sophisticated word processing program to help with writing. There is rarely one solution that will meet all of a child’s needs as he or she progresses through school, so assistive technology is recognized as a process that is vital to a student’s educational pathway.The immediate needs of students are re-assessed periodically in regards to replacement or modification of a given device. After a student’s specific learning disability is identified, an assessment follows, and a determination is made for classroom and home-based assistive technology classification. Once this is all completed, the LEA has an obligation to provide it. Parents should list their child’s needs to the LEA. This correspondence should include the child’s specific learning disability,a list of specific recommendations for AT needed for the child, and a request for a timeframe that a request will be addressed.The correspondence should also ask that the LEA explore alternative sources of funding to provide the AT. Sharing this correspondence with a child’s teachers and administrators will also help. It is important to make sure a child’s AT needs are addressed, and be prepared to obtain a letter of medical necessity or a prescription for assistive technology from the child’s physician. It may seem odd to do this, but it will save time and additional effort later. Parents and school personnel can serve as advocates for students by searching for alternative ways to secure AT. Basic Resources for Parents and Education Professionals • ADA technical assistance programs: Every state has one, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. They provide an array of services. • Private funding sources: Seek out private funding sources by researching charitable foundations or other 501(c)(3) organizations. • Used Equipment: One creative way schools are stretchingAT funds is through the Used Equipment Marketplace, where assistive technology, valued at more than $25, can be bought, sold, or given away. • Loaners: Loan closets, lending libraries, and demonstration programs are ideal resources to “try before you buy.” • Healthcare programs: Many school systems will ask families to apply through their own healthcare plans for AT, which is fine as long as it does not bring a separate burden on the family – such as a cap on services or hefty copays. Medicaid may also cover some devices if they can be justified as helping a child with basic life functions. The ever-changing landscape of federal regulations, medical technology, and insurance coverage can make one’s head spin. This column spotlights government resources available to qualifying people who have multiple sclerosis and other chronic illnesses. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act