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Children with disabilities sometimes need and are entitled to special equipment and services to ensure that they have access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). Learn more about equipment, funding, consultation and evaluation resources, implementation strategies, best practices and other services available.​​​

Assistive technology includes both devices and services. As defined in IDEA:

  • an assistive technology device means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability. (34 CFR 300.5)
  • an assistive technology service means any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. (34 CFR 300.6)​

During the IEP process, assistive technology must be considered for every child and then provided by districts if required in a child's IEP to access a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).

For additional information regarding assistive technology, please contact Special Education Services Department​, Illinois State Board of Education, at (217) 782-5589.

 Assistive Technology Grant Projects

The Grants to States Program as described in IDEA part B section 611 provides formula grants to assist states in providing a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment for students with disabilities ages three to 21. Grant projects under this program may use funds for state-level activities such as technical assistance, personnel preparation, positive behavioral interventions and supports, and improving the use of technology in the classroom.

Illinois has three grant projects which address the use of assistive technology in schools: AT Technical Assistance and Resources (AT-TA), AT Device Loan and Evaluation (AT-LE), and AT Exchange Network (AT-EN). These projects seek to build capacity and awareness of professionals at all levels of education, students, parents and families, and community members around use of Assistive Technology in education. Additionally, these projects increase availability of quality assistive technology devices, computer systems, durable medical equipment, AAC, and other AT items to support students’ access to curriculum throughout the state.​


Funding Opportunities

 Assistive Technology Guidance Manual

The purpose of the Assistive Technology Guidance ManualPDF Document is to provide guidance to school systems regarding the processes associated with effective AT use by students with disabilities. The manual is intended to inform the practices of schools systems to promote successful outcomes related to AT use by students with disabilities and to serve as a point of reference for school administrators, teachers, related service personnel, students, and parents of students with disabilities.​​

 Illinois Assistive Technology Program (IATP)

​The Illinois Assistive Technology Program (IATP) is the non-profit organization designated as the Statewide AT Program funded under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as amended.   
 
IATP’s mission is to increase access to and the acquisition of Assistive Technology (AT) devices and services for individuals of all ages with disabilities. IATP provides AT information and services in the areas of education, employment, community living, and IT/telecommunications. Our goal is to improve the quality of life of all Illinoisans with disabilities and enable them through greater access to assistive technology devices to fully participate in all aspects of life. We believe disability is a natural part of the human experience and in no way diminishes a person’s right to:  
  • enjoy full inclusion and integration in mainstream society; 
  • benefit from an education; 
  • pursue meaningful careers and;  
  • enjoy self-determination and make choices. 
IATP provides the following core programs: AT Demonstrations; AT Device Loans; AT State Financing, AT Reutilization.  IATP also provides Information and Assistance, Training and Technical Assistance on a variety of AT topics, as well as, collaborates with state agencies and disability organizations statewide to improve and expand policies and practices to include greater access to and funding for AT. 
 
IATP offers school-based evaluations in addition to device loans to school district through the ISBE grant.
IATP provides augmentative and alternative communication assessments along with assistive technology evaluations throughout the state of Illinois. These assessments are FREE to students with an IEP or a 504 plan in place. An SLP and/or an ATS will provide a report upon completion of the assessment. Requests can be made online at https://www.iltech.org/repository/k12assessments.  Any questions regarding the process can be directed toward Mark McCabe at (217) 522-7985 or mmccabe@iltech.org.  
 
Illinois Assistive Technology Program 
1020 S. Spring St. 
Springfield, IL 62704 
 
Phone/TTY: (800) 852-5110 
Fax: (217) 522-8067 
 

 Infinitec Assistive Technology Services

Infinitec provides state of the art assistive technology, information, training, equipment services and technical assistance. Infinitec is the technology services of the nonprofit United Cerebral Palsy Seguin Services (UCPS).  Our mission is to advance independence and promote inclusive opportunities for individuals with disabilities through technology.

Statewide Assistive Technology Training and Technical Assistance   

Over the past decade, Infinitec has worked in partnership with ISBE to provide training and technical assistance in the area of assistive technology (AT) at no cost to schools and families reaching the 102 counties of Illinois.

  • ISBE Infinitec Training addresses priority areas such as: AT Consideration and Service Delivery, AT supporting Executive Function, Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), Reading, Writing, Transition and Access for Students with Significant Disabilities.
  • The menu of training services provided by Infinitec includes webinars, seminars, online courses and blended learning opportunities delivered by national, regional and local trainers.
  • Infinitec is an approved provider of continuing education for ISBE, IDFPR and ASHA.
  • During FY18, Infinitec conducted 177 seminars/webinars serving nearly 6,000 educators, pre-service professionals and family members.

Please click here for technical assistance​.

For more information or to request ISBE/Infinitec sponsored training call toll free 833-682-7595.

Statewide Assistive Technology Equipment Services

Assistive Technology Exchange Network (ATEN)

Infinitec provides assistive technology equipment statewide through the Assistive Technology Exchange Network (ATEN) project.

ATEN was established in June 1995 in partnership with the Illinois State Board of Education. The exchange network recycles computers and other technology by collecting and refurbishing equipment donated by corporations and individuals. This refurbished equipment is donated to Illinois public schools and students with disabilities free of charge.

The program is available to all individuals in our public schools, as well as private and home-schooled students who are referred through their home district. In FY 2018, ATEN distributed more than 5,432 desktop computers and laptops covering all counties statewide. To complete an application request form, please go to ATEN​ and find it located near the bottom of the page. 

Durable Medical Equipment (DME)

The Durable Medical Equipment (DME) program also allows districts to access much-needed items for their students for school or home use. Those with a temporary or permanent disability can secure free motorized and manual wheelchairs, therapy equipment, canes, walkers, portable ramps, shower benches, and many more items to assist with daily activities. In FY 2018, the DME program distributed more than 400 free pieces of durable medical equipment across Illinois.

Infinitec Coalitions 

Infinitec provides intensive AT services and extensive online professional learning through Infinitec Coalition membership services. For information on these services, please contact infinitecwebsupport@ucpnet.org or visit myinfinitec.org.

Infinitec Services 
7550 W. 183rd St.
Tinley Park, IL 60477

ISBE/Infinitec Statewide AT Services 
708.444.8460
Infinitec Training and Technical Assistance ext. 244 
Infinitec ATEN and DME ext. 231 

Visit ​at4il.org
Call Toll Free: 833.682.7595​​​

 Device Loan Program

​​

The purpose of IATP's device loan program​ is to let potential Assistive Technology (AT) users try-out devices prior to purchase, have access to a backup system when their device is in for repairs and/or have access to a device while waiting for their device to be delivered. IATP's device loan program is FREE and easy to use for school-based purposes (ages 3-21). All device loans are for 5 weeks unless otherwise specified. The only cost the borrower may incur is the return shipment. For more information about device loans visit the iltech website.​​

 School Based AT/AAC Assessments

​​Illinois Assistive Technology Program 
IATP provides augmentative and alternative communication assessments along with assistive technology throughout the state of Illinois.  These assessments are FREE to students with an IEP or a 504 Plan in place.  A SLP and/or an ATS will provide a report upon completion of the assessment.  Requests can be made here

Any questions regarding the process can contact Mark McCabe at IATP at (217)522-7985 or via email at mmccabe@iltech.org​.   

Special Education Assistive Technology (SEAT) Center at Illinois State University

Campus Box 5910, Fairchild Hall 324

Normal, IL 61790-5910

Phone: (309) 438-7811

Fax: (309) 438-2211

Web address: http://education.illinoisstate.edu/seat/

The SEAT Center at Illinois State University (ISU) primarily focuses on teaching pre-service and practicing professionals the skills they need to meet the technology needs of people with disabilities through practical, hands-on, performance-based instruction. Instruction provided at the Center focuses on developing competencies in assistive technology as well as other types of technology (e.g., instructional technology, adaptive equipment) that can improve the education and quality of life of persons with special needs.SEAT offers many services to both ISU and the Illinois Community.​​​

Services offered at ISU include:

  • Providing resources and support for integrating instruction about assistive technology into the teacher education curriculum.
  • Providing onsite access to equipment and staff expertise for ISU students and faculty to learn about assistive technology.
  • Providing direct instruction via classes and workshops about assistive technology.

Services offered to the Illinois Community include:

  • Providing customized workshops to individuals and groups regarding topics such as assistive technology tools, assistive technology consideration, and assistive technology implementation and integration.
  • Providing onsite access to the community to learn about various assistive technology tools.
  • Providing support to school districts to facilitate assistive technology decision making.
  • Providing program evaluations to districts regarding assistive technology service delivery.
  • Plus many more!

For more information about services and trainings, or to schedule visits, please contact the SEAT Center at (309) 438-7811 or visit the SEAT website.

Assistive Technology Unit, University Of Illinois at Chicago Mobile Clinical Services​

The UIC Assistive Technology Unit offers mobile AT services in the following areas:

  • Alternative & Augmentative Communication
  • Adaptive Equipment (custom designs via Rehabilitation Engineering)
  • Computer Access
  • Environmental Control
  • Home Modification
  • Seating & Wheeled Mobility
  • Worksite Modification

Services are provided by a multi-disciplinary team comprised of Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Speech-Language Pathologists, and Rehabilitation Engineers. All clinicians are licensed professionals, and RESNA-certified Assistive Technology Professionals (ATPs).

For more information, visit www.uicatu.org or e-mail us at atu@uic.edu.​

Assistive Technology Certificate Program, University Of Illinois at Chicago Distance Learning In Assistive Technology

The University of Illinois at Chicago offers a distance learning-based Assistive Technology Certificate, earned via students or working professionals taking 12 credit hours of online and blended coursework.

REQUIRED courses include the following:

  • Introduction to Assistive Technology
  • Computers, Communication, and Controls

ELECTIVE courses include the following:

  • Augmentative Communication Assessment
  • AAC Intervention for Beginning Communicators
  • AAC and AT for Inclusion in K-12 Settings
  • AAC Intervention to Promote Language and Literacy
  • Assistive Technology for Writing
  • Assistive Technology Assessment for Schools
  • Adaptive Equipment Design & Fabrication
  • Assistive Technology for Individuals with Low Vision or Blindness
  • Seating & Wheeled Mobility
  • Ergonomics & Safety for Workers with Disabilities
  • Home Modification Basics
  • Clinical Internship

Working professionals enroll for courses via their co-listing with the UIC Office of Continuing Education. Instructors are clinical faculty members of the UIC Assistive Technology Unit, a source for AT service, training, and research.

Students may apply the AT Certificate credits toward Master of Science graduate study in the Department of Disability & Human Development.

Students and working professionals must apply to enter the UIC Assistive Technology Certificate Program.

For more information, visit www.uicatu.org or via e-mail at atu@uic.edu​​​​

 NIMAS-NIMAC Information

​​​Obtaining Accessible Instructional Materials via NIMAC for Eligible Students with an IEP and Qualifying Disabilities

Important Note: The US Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) have issued new interpretations or guidance related to the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act (MTIA, which is a copyright law) that dictate the use of NIMAC. While IDEA 2004 has not yet been updated to align with the language of MTIA, states are instructed to begin using the new terminology and definitions. OSEP has stated that “until such time as Congress makes technical amendments to the IDEA statute and the Department is able to make conforming technical amendments to the IDEA Part B regulations, States should rely on, and utilize, the terms and definitions as updated and implemented by the Marrakesh Treaty and found in the Copyright Act at 17 U.S.C. § 121.” Please note updated content, based on the MTIA and other recent information from NIMAC, incorporated and linked below. The NIMAS Guidance Document linked below will also be updated in the near future to include these changes.

​The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) is a provision of the reauthorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004 (also known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, or IDEIA) at 34 CFR 300.172. NIMAS requires that one standard be used for translating K-12 instructional materials into accessible formats for students with an IEP and a NIMAC – qualifying disability as determined by a competent authority.

The federally-funded National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) is a central repository for K-12 instructional materials in the NIMAS standard. These NIMAS files are submitted by publishers to the NIMAC when requested by school districts purchasing educational materials. Each state coordinating with the NIMAC may assign up to five (5) Authorized Users (AUs) who are able to access these NIMAS files in the NIMAC system and, sometimes with the assistance of an Accessible Media Producer (AMP), convert these files into accessible formats for eligible students. The Authorized Users (AUs) serve as a point of contact for school districts seeking instructional materials in accessible formats.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) Special Education Services Department has chosen to coordinate with NIMAC to ensure Illinois’ school districts are able to obtain materials in accessible formats for eligible students. ISBE determines Authorized Users (AUs) to work directly with Illinois’ districts to obtain these materials. More in-depth information about the process of obtaining accessible printed materials through NIMAC, Illinois’ Authorized Users (AUs), and Frequently Asked Questions about NIMAS and NIMAC is contained in the guidance document referenced below.

Important Updates, Clarifications, and New Definitions as of Spring 2021

  • Types of Works and Instructional Materials 
    • ​As per the OSEP Notice of Interpretation, the term 'print instructional materials' means printed textbooks and related printed core materials that are written and published primarily for use in elementary school and secondary school instruction and are required by a State educational agency or local educational agency for use by students in the classroom. 
    • The term “specialized formats”, which was limited to specific technologies, has been changed to “accessible formats” which is defined more broadly as an “alternative manner or format” that allows an eligible person to have access to a work that is equivalent to a person without a disability. 
    • While NIMAS/NIMAC previously addressed only hard copy printed materials and materials of specific categories, the scope of works and instructional materials now available for conversion to accessible materials via NIMAS/NIMAC has been expanded to include a variety of literary works, musical works fixed in the form of text or notation, materials in digital format with no printed equivalent, etc. 
    • When eligible students are not able to use materials in the digital format distributed to other students, NIMAS can be a starting point for producing Braille and other accessible formats. 
    •  The NIMAS 1.1 format, based on the DAISY Standard, has not changed, and is designed to capture the content, structure and linear reading order of printed books. Digital materials must meet the requirements of the NIMAS specification--including metadata requirements--to be submitted to the NIMAC. At this time, this includes having an ISBN. o Note that not all instructional materials are compatible with NIMAS. For example, digitized materials with static displays and text may be compatible with NIMAS; however, interactive instructional materials (e.g. educational games, software, or apps), and multimedia audio or video files cannot be converted to NIMAS files. Standardized tests, whether print or digital, also remain outside the scope for NIMAS. o Digital materials that are “born accessible”, meeting WCAG 2.0 AA requirements, are exempted from the requirement of being supplied to NIMAC. 
    • Though there is a NIMAS exemption for digital instructional materials that meet the WCAG 2.0 AA standard, some students may still need hard copy Braille materials and it may be necessary for publishers to provide a source file for Braille conversion. 

  • Eligible Students (Note: Students must have a current IEP to be eligible for NIMAC services.) 
    • The term “blind or other persons with disabilities” has been updated to “eligible person,” which is defined as someone who is either blind, has a “visual impairment or perceptual or reading disability” rendering them unable to read printed works “to substantially the same degree as a person without an impairment or disability,” or has a physical disability making them unable to hold or manipulate a book or focus or move their eyes to read. As per 17 U.S.C. 121 and the NLS, sources for the NIMAC definition, an “eligible person is an individual who, regardless of any other disability, meets the following criteria: 
      • Is blind 
      • Has a visual impairment or perceptual or reading disability that cannot be improved to give visual function substantially equivalent to that of a person who has no such impairment or disability and so is unable to read printed works to substantially the same degree as a person without an impairment or disability; or 
      • Is otherwise unable, through physical disability, to hold or manipulate a book or to focus or move the eyes to the extent that would be normally acceptable for reading. 
    • The list of professionals (“Competent Authorities”) who can determine eligibility for NIMAC services has expanded. 
      • Eligibility must be certified by one of the following: doctor of medicine, doctor of osteopathy, ophthalmologist, optometrist, psychologist, registered nurse, therapist, and professional staff of hospitals, institutions, and public or welfare agencies (such as an educator, a social worker, case worker, counselor, rehabilitation teacher, certified reading specialist, school psychologist, superintendent, or librarian). 
      • The new guidelines remove the requirement for certification by a medical doctor for those with reading disabilities. These individuals may now be certified by the same persons who are authorized to certify other print-disabled individuals for participation in the program. 
    • Note: Only students with IEPs and qualifying disabilities, as determined by a competent authority, can access and use NIMAS/NIMAC – sourced materials. These materials, whether in hardcopy/concrete, virtual, digitized, or any other alternate format, must not be made available to students who are not eligible for NIMAS/NIMAC- sourced materials, nor distributed broadly.​

More in-depth information about the process of obtaining accessible printed materials through NIMAC, Illinois’ Authorized Users (AUs), and Frequently Asked Questions about NIMAS and NIMAC is contained in the following guidance document:

Please contact Illinois’ NIMAC State Coordinator, Lori Clampitt, at lclampit@isbe.net​, if you have further question about the process of obtaining K-12 printed instructional materials in accessible formats produced from NIMAS files.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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