The following are questions and answers from Dr. Tracy Gray on this topic.
How can I get accessible instructional materials for my son if the school will not provide them?
This is certainly a frustrating and confusing situation for a parent to be in; I hope some of these resources will be helpful for you. First, you may find it helpful to review some of the available information on NIMAS, the provisions of IDEA with regard to accessible materials, and the requirements of the IEP. IDEA provides a legal mandate for accessible materials for qualifying students, through high school. It is a good idea for parents to become familiar with this information to ensure that their children receive the materials necessary for success in school.
If your son's IEP does not currently list accessible instructional materials as a recommended support, you may want to consider addressing that issue with his IEP team. CAST's resource Accessible Instructional Materials and the IEP may be helpful. As your son moves into high school, you should discuss his needs with the new IEP team and ensure that supplementary aids and services, such as accessible texts, are included if your son is eligible.
Finally, I'd like to reassure you that there are many options for resolving disputes and disagreements with your son's school district, many of them spelled out in special education law. LD Online, Wrightslaw, and NICHCY have some excellent resources available on this topic. You may also want to check out the expert advice from Matt Cohen, Esq. on this site for more information about special education law.
Is peer support an acceptable substitute for assistive technology in the classroom?
As you may be aware, IDEA 2004 requires that IEP teams consider assistive technology when determining what accommodations, services, and aids your child may need to be successful. Check out Considering Your Child's Need for Assistive Technology and Knowing Your Child's Rights for more information on this process. You may also want to review the relevant sections of IDEA related to assistive technology and the parent resources on IDEA 2004 from Great Schools. Both resources can provide you with some solid information that you can bring with you to meetings with school staff.
You don't say in your email whether the school has considered whether assistive technology could benefit your son; if they haven't, you do have the right to request an assistive technology evaluation. Because IDEA includes both AT devices and services, the school would provide your son with training and support for any assistive technology deemed necessary. As part of this process, the school would: evaluate your son; investigate purchasing or leasing AT; and provide training for your son, your family, and other caregivers as necessary, as well as for any school staff that work with your son.
While peer support from the other kids in your son's class may be beneficial, their help does not replace needed assistive technology devices and training. It is important to discuss these concerns with your son's IEP team, as you have the right to disagree with their decisions regarding your son's AT use. If you think that your son is not getting appropriate AT services, or you think that additional devices and services might be warranted, you should arrange a meeting with his IEP team to address your concerns.
For more information about special education law, check out the expert advice from Matt Cohen, Esq. on this site.