AT Federal Court Cases 2016-2022: Implementation of AT Services

Most recently, which was also presented at the CEC conference in January 2022, I have been working on a systematic literature review on case law specific to assistive technology (AT) due process complaints that made it to federal court. One interesting finding was that litigation or parental complaints were not typically due to lack of access to AT devices specifically, but the denial of FAPE under IDEA for negligence of AT services. IDEA defines them both in great detail, but in a nutshell, AT device is the equiptment or item in contrast to AT service includes the evaluation, maintence, and training of the student, parents, and staff in the device(s). Schools are very receptive to trying out new devices and technology to support student IEP goals and progress, but in many cases, students are being denied appropriate services due to (a) retainment and lack of qualified special education teachers, (b) school or district level changes frequently based on caseload, shuffling of students, and changes in special education numbers across grades and courses, and (c) lack of interagency collaboration between all stakeholders ( e.g., teachers, administration, therapists, related services, parents) in a student’s IEP. It was found in this review that when this occurs there are gaps and inconsistencies in the students AT services causing inadequate or de minimus progress, which according to Endrew F. that set this precident for most of the cases, is a denial of FAPE under IDEA. Special education students who recieve AT devices (low-tech or high-tech) and services should be updated at a minimum at least once a year during the student’s annual IEP meeting, if not more as the student’s educational needs change. It is also important to consider that with secondary students who have multiple courses and teachers and even elementary special education students with multiple therapies, related services, or special education services are using their devices with the appropriate services across all environments at school, including home.

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