Related Services & Therapies

Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology                                         

The NYC Department of Education, Center for Assistive Technology (CAT) at the Office of Related ServicesDivision of Specialized Instruction and Student Support conducts assistive technology (AT) evaluations and trainings for students with disabilities (school age and preschool) in preschools, community schools, charter schools and non-public schools (private and parochial). CAT also provides support and guidance regarding assistive technology to public school staff, teachers and administrators.

What is Assistive Technology (AT)?
AT is defined as both a device and a service.
AT devices are defined by IDEA as:
"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." (34CFR § 300.5)
AT service is defined by IDEA as:
"any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition or use of an assistive technology device."

How can parents request an AT evalution?
Parents can make a referral to their schools or regional Committee on Special Education (CSE) to request an AT evaluation.
If your child attends a community school in Districts 1-32, you may make a referral to the school-based CSE. The CSE will submit this to the CAT team.
If your child attends a preschool, charter or non-public school, you may make a referral to the regional CSE. The CSE will submit this to the CAT team.
If your child attends a District 75 school, you may make a referral to the school-based CSE. The CSE will submit this to Tech Solutions.

What is the evaluation process for AT?
1) CSE submits the AT evaluation referral to the CAT or Tech Solutions.
2) The student is evaluated. The student and their teachers are trained on the AT device, corresponding goals are developed and strategies are implemented.
3) Evaluation may include a student trial. Student performance is reviewed and, if appropriate, IEP goals are refined.
4) Where the CSE determines it is appropriate, AT is added to the student's IEP.
5) The AT device/service is provided to the student.

Common Assistive Technology Considerations- When is AT Appropriate?

You are considering AT because…

IEP mandated AT may not be appropriate. Consider 
Universal Design for Learning

Student may need AT-CSE can consider needs independently or complete referral for further assistance

The student needs to be motivated.


The student wants to access the internet or likes computers.


The student cannot communicate via typical voice and alternative methods have not been effective.

The student cannot access the curriculum via typical modes comparable to his peers and alternative methods have not been effective.

The student has reading deficits that are addressed programmatically 


Students' handwriting is illegible due to lack of practice and or instruction in penmanship.

Frequently Asked Questions

When and how should the CSE or parent make a request for evaluation for assistive technology?
A referral should be made to the CSE if AT might provide access for participation in programs or activities which otherwise would be closed to the student due to their disability.
What is the difference between IEP driven Assistive Technology (AT) and Instructional Technology (IT)?
  • AT is equipment used to improve the fucntional capabilities of individuals with disabilities to help them access their curriculum. The student would be unable to access the curriculum through other means and the AT is listed on the student's IEP.
  • IT is utilized as a resource for learning for students who are able to access curriculum through other means. IT is not listed on a student's IEP.

What is Universal Design for Learning (UDL)?
UDLis a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunity to learn. For more information about UDL, click here.

Where can parents find more information about AT and IT?
E-mail for answers to questions or other support.
Review outside resources.
Review a presentation on AT.