Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Does AT come with my computer?
A. Operating systems on PC (Windows) and Macintosh each include options (screen magnifiers, onscreen keyboards, adjustable fonts, etc.) that meet the needs of many people with disabilities. The user simply needs to know that they are there and how to customize them for optimum individual use.
To look for information on accessibility features that may be available on your computer:
On a Windows platform—search the Control Panel for “accessibility” or “ease of access.” Further information on accessibility features of Windows programs can be found at Microsoft’s Web site.
On a Macintosh platform—in the Apple menu, select System Preferences and then select Universal Access. Besides the accessibility features that already come with their computer, many individuals need specialized software to do different tasks. Further information on accessibility features of Mac OS X can be found at Apple’s Web site.
Q. How is AT funded for postsecondary education or for a job?
A. AT services and devices may be funded through state agencies under the Federal Rehabilitation Act. Connecticut has multiple private, nonprofit, and public agencies that support people with disabilities to pursue postsecondary education or employment. The Connecticut Tech Act Project is a state-wide program that helps increase access to AT for individuals with disabilities of all ages. The New England Assistive Technology Center is the largest AT center in Connecticut where you can find equipment that makes life more accessible. The AT Exchange in New England is an online classifieds site where you can find new and used AT devices either for sale or free.
The Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) provides vocational rehabilitation services to assist Connecticut residents with significant disabilities to find and keep employment. The Connect to Work Center along with Connect-ability operate in partnership with state agencies and directs individuals around the area of employment. These agencies provide evaluation, training, placement, and other services to people with disabilities who can pursue employment. Once an individual opens a case with the vocational rehabilitation agency, he/she and the agency develop an annual plan called the Individualized Written Rehabilitation Program (IWRP). The plan can include AT as a service that should be provided, either in training for a job or for use in performance of a job. Please see the resources page for other supports and more information.
Q. How can we ensure that the AT used in school is available in the home for the student to use?
A. The individualized education program (IEP) is the plan or outline of placement decisions, goods, and services to be provided to the student according to the annual determinations of a student’s PPT/IEP team. If the student requires AT, then the student should have access to the same tools at home as he uses in school. An example of language used in an objective to meet a writing goal might be: “Jason will use a software that will enable him to visually ‘map’ his pre-writing ideas to independently outline social studies chapters weekly.” “Beth will independently find three sources of information on the Internet for each written (typed) report assigned and reference them correctly as she composes on a laptop.” Equipment (hardware/software) written into IEP should appear on page 8 as well. It is only by having it written into the IEP that the school becomes responsible for ensuring that it is available to the student, if necessary, outside of the school.
Q. Is a school district responsible for putting AT in a private school setting?
A. If the student has a disability and the PPT/IEP team has placed the student in a private school setting and has determined on the IEP that AT equipment and services are indicated, it should be provided at the expense of the sending district and available at the private school.
Q. Is a school district responsible for providing AT in the home if a student is home tutored?
A. Home tutoring is described as an employee of the school district entering the home of a student for a prescribed length of time weekly or daily to work directly with the student who requires such service. If the student has a disability that is identified and the PPT/IEP team have determined on the IEP that AT equipment and services are indicated, it should be provided at the expense of the sending district and available.
Q. When moving to a new school district and the new school does not have the AT device indicated in the IEP available, what can be done to ensure that the tools that have worked for her at her previous school continue to be used in the new school?
A. The technology needs to appear in her IEP under accommodation and modification as well as in her educational goals. If it appears on her established IEP, the school district must convene a PPT/IEP meeting and discuss implementation of the IEP.
If it is a new referral, the school has 60 days from the date of consent for an evaluation to review the results of referral testing and 45 school days from the date of referral to when the program is to begin.
Q. Are there grants available to schools or classrooms that would help fund AT?
A. Grants are often available to schools or classrooms; it takes some detective work to find these. Foundations and corporate grants exist that may help fund technology. Foundations generally fund organizations more readily than they fund individuals. Schools are often not included as candidates for these grants as it is commonly perceived that schools receive adequate funding for addressing most needs. Carefully reviewing requirements for grant proposals will indicate if schools are able to apply.
The Foundation Directory from the Foundation Center is found in most libraries. It is also available online for a subscription fee. It lists foundations and corporate donors, schedules for applying for each grant, and contact information.
Local foundations will sometimes fund demonstration projects that, at the end of the grant period, leave hardware and software with the school or classroom that has been awarded the grant. For example, a high school special education class wrote a grant with the school’s Art Club to interview local artists and to create a multimedia presentation at the end of the year, featuring all of the artists using a computer and all related technology to produce the work. One of the students had a physical disability, so an adaptive keyboard was written into the equipment list as well as a state-of-the-art computer. Once the project was completed and presented to the foundation, the equipment that had been part of the grant stayed with the class.