Individual Education Plans (IEP) and assistive technology (AT)

What is an IEP?

The Individual Education Plan (IEP) is a document intended to be developed by parents, teachers, specialists and students generated by the school. An IEP expands on an individual students learning approach and any related services, including assistive technologies (AT) required for a student to access curriculum and output learning. As in the United States an IEP is not a replacement of curriculum but rather a “tool for defining how to implement a general education curriculum” ( In Canada IEP practices and processes differ from province to province to territory, therefore, where and when AT is considered may vary.

In Ontario AT can be included in IEPs. Some examples include:

  • As a condition of goal or objective (e.g., “Using a voice output communication device, student will name….”)
  • In Specially Designed Instruction, (e.g., “Access to a computer for word processing writing tasks longer than one paragraph”); as an accommodation for testing. 
  • Related Services: (e.g., “Student and parents will be trained by AT consultant in use of AT”)
  • In supports for school personnel (e.g. “Teacher of child with hearing impairment will be trained in use and maintenance of FM system.”)

Source: Sample IEP Goals for Literacy Using Assistive Technology

Special Needs Roadmaps has a general guide that maps out a full journey (or possible journeys) one might follow in an IEP process including surrounding formalities and meetings such as an IPRC (Identification, Placement, and Review Committee). You can find the Roadmap here. It is worth reading the information about the development of the Roadmap here—we love that it is from the perspectives of parents.

Recommendations for efficient integration of AT into IEP

  1. The IEP should be developed by a team of individuals who can provide information to others about the student and environment. The team should include the family and the student for whom AT is being considered, whenever possible.
  2. AT is not the goal itself, but a tool to assist an individual to access programs and services and achieve functional goals and outcomes (e.g., Using a word processing program with a spell checker and word prediction capabilities, Kellan will compose a 3 paragraph paper of 15 sentences with 80% accuracy in the use of spelling, punctuation, and grammar over 5 consecutive trials by (date).)
  3. The IEP should focus on the functional tasks of the curriculum and the daily routines that the student is required to perform, not on a particular piece of assistive technology (e.g., Using an appropriately programmed voice output device, Kris will make oral book reports in class, including the main ideas and events of the story, characters, and an evaluation, 1 time a week for 4 consecutive weeks by (date).)
  4. Emphasis should be on the needs and features required by the student function in the environment, not on specific names of equipment (e.g., Due to Cassandra’s limited visual acuity affecting her ability to gather information visually, she will have access to a CCTV (closed circuit television) to enlarge and view printed materials.)
  5. Services needed to implement the use of assistive technology must also be included in the plan (e.g., Dayson is independent with his wheelchair. The occupational therapist will visit the school once a month to determine any needed environmental modifications that are needed to allow Dayson to access school/environment and programs.)
  6. The IEP should support integration into natural environments (home, school, community, job) (e.g., At his work study placement, at the business office of the local hospital, Raphael will complete duties assigned each day using picture cues to organize his work and transition from activity to activity without reminders from coworkers. He will use his electric wheelchair to independently deliver written messages from the business office to the nurses’ stations and pharmacy.)

Adapted from: Assistive Technology in the Written Plan. Presentation at CSUN Conference, 1996. Judy Marquette and Janet Sloand Armstrong, Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative, (1997), and Chambers, A.C. (1997), Has Technology Been Considered? A Guide for IEP Teams.

AT in IEP examples

Examples of several IEPs can be found at the end of The Individual Education Plan (IEP), A Resource Guide.

More about IEPs and AT

Infusing Assistive Technology for Learning into the IPP Process: This document from Alberta Education Website presents a guide to AT and its integration in IEP.

Assistive Technology and the IEP: This resource from The Center on Technology and Disability website provides useful information to the integration of AT in the IEP.

Accessible Educational Materials and Technologies in the IEPs: this resource talks about not only ATs in IEPs but the accessibility of education materials. Technology is only a valuable tool if the information is equitably accessible.