4.2.2 Assistive technology and needs assessment

As advised above, the procurement of assistive technology (AT) should be informed by research into the needs and requirement of individual schools and students. An effective needs assessment model will identify the appropriate AT to suit an individual user’s needs. (See section on technical resources for resources on needs assessment and AT). The Assistive Technology Decision Tree by UnumProvident provides a process by which to pick the correct choice of AT based on a person’s functional limitations.119

Needs assessment should be carried out by qualified personnel with expertise in AT. The assessment may be carried out by a specialist visiting the school, in consultation with the child’s teacher, family and care-givers, or at an existing community rehabilitation facility. Once the needs assessment has identified the AT requirements of the student, these requirements should be formally communicated to the educational authorities. Whatever the funding strategies and level of AT provision by the school system, it is imperative that this clear statement of a child’s AT requirements be recognized and achieved over time.

Teachers, parents and children with disabilities need accurate information on the types and ranges of ATs available. Policy-makers should consider developing national databases on the types of ATs available, as well as lists of suppliers. This will also help identify gaps in the availability of certain ATs in any given country.