Federal Laws and Regulations on Assistive Technology
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Devices and services that are now commonly referred to as assistive technology (AT) have been included as part of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) since the initial enactment of federal special education legislation in 1975. However, it wasn't until the 1991 amendments to Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that the terms "assistive technology device" and "assistive technology service" were first used in education law. The accompanying federal regulations that were adopted in 1992 included provisions that AT devices and services be made available to any child with a disability, if required as a part of the child's special education, related services, or supplementary aids and services. See the language in the current, 2006 Part B regulations under 34 CFR §300.105.
With the reauthorization of the IDEA in 1997 and the adoption of new regulations in 1999, school districts were required to consider the need for assistive technology whenever a child's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) was developed. This has not changed under IDEA 2004 and the 2006 regulations 34 CFR §300.324.
The Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities Program of the IDEA (Part C) also requires the provision of assistive technology for children from birth to three, if deemed appropriate as part of a child's early intervention program under 34 CFR §303.13.
The Assistive Technology Act
In 1988 Congress passed the Technology Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act (P.L. 100-407) to increase access to, availability of, and funding for assistive technology for all individuals with disabilities, including very young children. The Act was amended in 1994 (P.L. 103-218). In 1998 Congress enacted the Assistive Technology Act (P.L. 105-394) and in 2004, the AT Act was amended. See the Assistive Technology Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-364).
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Additionally, children with disabilities, even those who are not eligible for special education under IDEA may have a right to assistive technology under either Title II or Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, which protects the rights of individuals with disabilities of all ages in many different aspects of their lives.
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
The Center on Technology and Disability published the following resources showing how the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) supports the effective use of assistive and instructional technology to enhance teaching and learning.
This guide highlights opportunities within the ESSA to foster the use of assistive and learning technology to advance equal educational opportunities for all students, including students with disabilities.
This infographic shows how ESSA funds may be allocated to support state and district technology initiatives.
This infographic provides a quick comparison of key terms related to supporting students with disabilities used in ESSA and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) to show how they differ.