Litigation Related to AEM and Associated AT
Student: A high school junior with a learning disability was able to perform at a high level when permitted to listen to, rather than read, school materials. The student received accommodations on a 504 plan (Editor note: Stand-alone text-to-speech software is readily available to schools for use with digital text. Additionally, schools can obtain instructional materials which include a text-to-speech feature for qualified students from Bookshare and Learning Ally.)
School’s Participation: Materials for some classes were made accessible to the student using programs that read material out loud. With higher-level math and chemistry classes, more advanced software is needed to scan and read the equations and symbols. The school agreed to scan math materials to use with the text-to-speech software, but made the student responsible for scanning and translating chemistry and some history materials.
Problem: The school was considered in violation of the ADA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 for denying nondiscriminatory access to education.
Results: The student was awarded a temporary restraining order that required the school district to provide scanned, accessible materials for chemistry using an advanced text-to-speech program.
L.G. Port Townsend School Dist. No. 50, 112 LRP 46490 (WD Washington 2009)
Student: An eighth grader with learning disabilities on an IEP needed Kurzweil and WYNN literacy software and audiobooks to provide him access to education. (Editor note: Literacy software includes many features such as text-to-speech, customizable reading speed, dictionary, talking spell checker, word prediction, graphic organizer, highlighters, and voice input.)
School’s Participation: The school included information about the student's need for AT in the IEP.
Problem: The school did not provide the AT determined as needed for the student to access his education.
Results: The school was considered in violation of IDEA for not providing FAPE.
Miller v. Board Of Education of the Albuquerque Public Schools, 565 F.3d 1232, (10th Cir. 2009)
Student: A ninth grader with autism, a speech-language impairment, and former diagnosis of intellectual disability on an IEP transitioned from middle school to high school within the same school district. The student previously used an iPad to achieve educational goals.
School’s Participation: The school indicated in the student’s IEP the need for an iPad to achieve educational goals and provided the student an iPad in middle school. When the transfer of the iPad from the middle school did not occur in a timely manner, the high school provided the student a Kindle Fire. (Editor note: iPads include many built-in accessibility features, as well as integration of apps for speech, organization, note-taking, and sound recording. At the time of this case, the Kindle Fire did not include such accessibility features.)
Problem: Technical difficulties, including licensing issues, delayed the transfer of the iPad to the student at the high school until March of the ninth grade year. Once the student received the iPad, the support teacher and one-on-one aide were not trained in using the iPad as AT to support the student.
Results: The school was considered in violation of IDEA for not providing FAPE. The district was ordered to contract with a private speech pathologist and/or an expert in iPad educational application technology to research, acquire, and teach the student, parent, teachers, and aide how to use appropriate educational applications to assist the student in a variety of ways and how these applications can be useful in supporting the IEP goals.
School District of Philadelphia, 114 LRP 37532 (Pennsylvania SEA 2014)