Know Your Rights
Assistive Technology (AT) includes any item, piece of equipment, or product that increases, maintains, or improves the ability of individuals with disabilities to function. AT can be useful for people with either physical or cognitive impairments.
Some examples of assistive technology devices are:
- voice activated computers
- tools to use to reach or pick up things
- speaker phones and text telephones (TTY)
- devices that help pull zippers, light switches, turn on/off buttons, etc
- braces, hand splints
- beeping or vibrating prompts and alerts
- personal computers
- augmentative communication devices
- adjustable workstations
- hearing aids
A variety of federal and state laws have been adopted to ensure that individuals with disabilities have increased access to technology supports. Federal law addressing assistive technology is found in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Assistive Technology Act (ATA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 508), and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Action (IDEA).
- The ADA is designed to protect individuals from employment discrimination based on a disability when the individual can perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation. A reasonable accommodation can include AT or access to other technologies.
- The ATA is designed to provide funding for states to ensure an increase in the availability of AT to improve their quality of life, work, and education.
- Sections 504 and 508 help people acquire AT to meet their employment goals and requires that all federal agencies make their electronic and information technology accessible.
- Under IDEA, AT must be considered for every student with disabilities in assessing what technology might be needed to help the child receive a free appropriate public education. Additional information about AT under Section 504 and IDEA can be found on the United States Department of Education website, www.ed.gov.
RSA 171-A:6, the New Hampshire state law addressing services for the developmentally disabled, states that all individuals with developmental disabilities accessing services be comprehensively assessed for assistive technology needs. State education regulations (Ed 1100 rules) require that children be assessed for and provided with technology necessary to ensure they receive a free appropriate public education as required by the IDEA.
More information about services for individuals with developmental disabilities can be located at the N.H. Bureau of Developmental Services webpage. General information about services to assist individuals with securing and maintaining employment, including the assessment for and provision of assistive technology can be found on the N.H. Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation webpage.
How We Can Help
If you have questions about the availability of assistive technology for you or a family member, call DRC-NH and ask for an appointment to talk with one of our lawyers.
Examples of how we can help:
- A child needs AT in order to receive a free appropriate public education, and the school district fails to provide the needed device or services.
- A person needs AT in order to become employable, and Vocational Rehabilitation will not provide it as part of the person’s rehabilitation plan.
- A client of an area agency needs AT and is not receiving it as part of the person’s service plan.
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Bookshare – Ebooks for people with reading barriers
Closing the Gap – Computer Technology in Special Education and Rehabilitation
iCanConnect at Northeast Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services