Funding Assistive Technology and Related Health Services in Service Settings

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In 1997, amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act required IEP/IFSP teams in service settings (e.g., child care programs, schools) to consider whether a child requires assistive technology (AT) devices and services in order to receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). AT includes augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems (from simple communication boards and wallets to sophisticated electronic communication devices), mobility aids (from long white canes for students with visual impairments to powered wheelchairs), and computer-based devices such as adapted keyboards, touch windows, and speech recognition systems.

However, securing the funding necessary for these often expensive devices may present the single largest barrier to accessing these resources (e.g., DeWitt, 1991; Wallace, Flippo, Barcus, & Behrmann, 1995). Since consideration of AT in developing IEPs is mandated under IDEA, this law remains the most obvious funding source. In addition, an especially powerful alternative funding stream is the Medicated program.