02 | Assistive Technology and the Law (cont.)

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Title II is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in areas of employment, public services, public accommodations, transportation and communication 8,9. Title II, which applies to schools as state or local entities, does not specifically define AT. It instead uses the term “auxiliary aids and services” including AT along with other services such as human supports. Title II states those physical barriers in existing facilities must be removed if removal is readily achievable. If not, school districts must offer alternative methods of providing the services if they are readily achievable. In addition, equal access includes the provision of auxiliary aids and services that are needed for effective communication with individuals with disabilities.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504)

Reference to AT in Section 504 is included in “special education and related aids and services,” the description of the delivery of an appropriate education and use of the term “supplementary aids and services,” and the discussion of academic settings in which students with disabilities should be served. A student is not required to be eligible for special education services to be protected under Section 504. Section 504 also prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities and requires schools to provide equal access to their programs and services.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) poses many changes to K-12 education. It calls for states to revamp their accountability systems – significantly scaling back the role tests play in gauging school progress. Under ESSA, states and districts can choose their own evidence-based interventions to transform their lowest performing schools. States will be required to report the performance of students with disabilities, along with students in groups, such as racial and ethnic minorities.

States can opt to eliminate teacher evaluations based in part on students’ standardized tests, which were required for states who wanted one of the Obama administration’s waivers from portions of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law.
Under ESSA, States, Districts to Share More Power from Education Week, January 2016

2016 National Education Technology Plan (NETP)

The NETP is a vision and plan for guiding the implementation of technology into learning, teaching, leadership, assessment, and infrastructure for education at all levels. The principles of the NETP align to the Innovative Technology Expands Children’s Horizons (ITECH) Program as authorized by Congress in December 2015 through the Every Child Achieves Act.

The goal of the plan is to provide students with greater equality and accessibility to education. The plan addresses using technology to provide new types of learning experiences, creating systemic changes in learning and teaching, assessing how the technology is assisting students and educators, and implementing infrastructure changes.

The plan contains research and recommendations throughout including suggestions that “education stakeholders should develop a born accessible standard of learning resource design to help educators select and evaluate learning resources for accessibility and equity of learning experiences.” The complete document can be found here: http://tech.ed.gov/files/2015/12/NETP16.pdf

Future Ready Learning, Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education, from the Office of Educational Technology U.S. Department of Education, January 2016