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U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans

Assistive technology device (Sec. 300.5)

Comment: Some commenters opposed the exclusion of surgically implanted medical devices in the definition of assistive technology device. Another commenter recommended limiting the definition of assistive technology device to a device that is needed to achieve educational outcomes, rather than requiring local educational agencies (LEAs) to pay for any assistive technology device that increases, maintains, or improves any functional need of the child.

Discussion: The definition of assistive technology device in Sec. 300.5 incorporates the definition in section 602(1)(B) of the Act. We do not believe the definition should be changed in the manner suggested by the commenters because the changes are inconsistent with the statutory definition. The definition in the Act specifically refers to any item, piece of equipment, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of the child and specifically excludes a medical device that is surgically implanted or the replacement of such device. Accordingly, we continue to believe it is appropriate to exclude surgically implanted medical devices from this definition. In response to the second comment, Sec. 300.105(a) requires each public agency to ensure that assistive technology devices (or assistive technology services, or both) are made available to a child with a disability if required as part of the child's special education, related services, or supplementary aids and services. This provision ties the definition to a child's educational needs, which public agencies must meet in order to ensure that a child with a disability receives a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

Changes: None.

Comment: One commenter requested that the regulations clarify that an assistive technology device is not synonymous with an augmentative communication device. A few commenters recommended including recordings for the blind and dyslexic playback devices in the definition of assistive technology devices. Some commenters recommended including language in the regulations clarifying that medical devices used for breathing, nutrition, and other bodily functions are assistive technology devices.

Discussion: The definition of assistive technology device does not list specific devices, nor would it be practical or possible to include an exhaustive list of assistive technology devices. Whether an augmentative communication device, playback devices, or other devices could be considered an assistive technology device for a child depends on whether the device is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability, and whether the child's individualized education program (IEP) Team determines that the child needs the device in order to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). However, medical devices that are surgically implanted, including those used for breathing, nutrition, and other bodily functions, are excluded from the definition of an assistive technology device in section 602(1)(B) of the Act. The exclusion applicable to a medical device that is surgically implanted includes both the implanted component of the device, as well as its external components.

Changes: None.

Comment: A few commenters asked whether the definition of assistive technology device includes an internet-based instructional program, and what the relationship is between internet-based instructional programs and specially-designed instruction.

Discussion: An instructional program is not a device, and, therefore, would not meet the definition of an assistive technology device. Whether an internet-based instructional program is appropriate for a particular child is determined by the child's IEP Team, which would determine whether the program is needed in order for the child to receive FAPE.

Changes: None.

Comment: A few commenters recommended including the proper functioning of hearing aids in the definition of assistive technology device.

Discussion: We believe that the provision requiring public agencies to ensure that hearing aids worn in school are functioning properly is more appropriately included in new Sec. 300.113 (proposed Sec. 300.105(b)). As noted in the Analysis of Comments and Changes section discussing subpart B, we have added a new Sec. 300.113 to address the routine checking (i.e., making sure they are turned on and working) of hearing aids and external components of surgically implanted devices.

Changes: None.