The IEP team determines the assistive technology needs of the child through an assessment process. An assistive technology device is "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."
Decision making for Assistive technology can take various forms, including the relatively brief consideration of Assistive technology needs that should occur routinely during IEP development.
The terms ‘assessment’ and ‘evaluation’ are often used interchangeably in special education and in Assistive technology, in particular. In general, assessments are used to determine current levels of performance and are conducted in an ongoing manner. Assessments involve data collection in specific circumstances; the data is used to make instructional decisions. In contrast, the terms ‘evaluation’, or ‘reevaluation’, are used to determine eligibility for special education services.
Decision-making processes used by IEP teams to determine the need for Assistive technology utilize assessment and data collection to guide the selection and implementation of Assistive technology devices and services. There are multiple frameworks and processes that may be used effectively by teams to structure the process of making Assistive technology decisions.
Effective, procedurally-sound Assistive Technology decision making has these elements in common:
Multidisciplinary: Assistive technology decision making may take place at various times in IEP development, review, and/or revision.
Data-based: Assistive technology decisions should be informed by data.
Informed: When making Assistive technology decisions, IEP teams may utilize the Assistive technology skills and knowledge of team members or elect to add members with expertise in a particular area of Assistive technology, who can provide advice or assistance for the team to consider. Teams may also decide to request technical assistance or consultation to support the team on a short-term basis.
Timely: Assistive technology decisions must be made in a timely manner.