How to apply for an Assistive Technology Grant

How to apply for an Assistive Technology Grant

The Department of Education allocates an Assistive Technology Grant (AT Grant) directly to schools for technological equipment that can be used in the classroom to support a student with additional learning needs. This blog is specifically about the AT grant process. Sometimes it can be a bit tricky to navigate and figure out, so we hope this post will help you understand the AT Grant a bit better and help you answer any questions you might have.

The AT Grant and Reasonable Accommodation for Exams

It is important to know from the beginning that the AT Grant for classroom use is different to getting reasonable accommodations at exam time. They are two different applications and generally happen at different times. For this post we will focus on the AT Grant for classroom use and we will publish a different post on reasonable accommodation for exams.

Who is the AT Grant for?

The AT grant is given directly to schools in Ireland (mainstream and special, primary and post-primary) to allow them to purchase specialist equipment for those students who without technological support, will not be able to access the school curriculum due to the degree of their physical and/or communicative disability.

The AT grant is mainly for students with the following disabilities: 

  • Visual/Hearing impairment

  • Impairment

  • Physical Disability

  • Severe or Profound General Learning Disability

In certain circumstances, applications for students with the following disabilities can be approved. 

  •  Moderate general learning disabilities

  • Specific learning disabilities

  • Specific speech and language disorders

  •  Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

  • Multiple disabilities

In these cases, the school must provide evidence that:

  1. it has used existing in-house technology without success,

  2. it knows how the AT will be used and outlines clearly how it will meet the student’s needs.

Students with a medical condition yet to be clearly diagnosed can be given an interim AT award.

Students with mild and borderline mild learning disabilities or emotional behavioural disorders or severe emotional behavioural disorders and without an additional disability (as listed above) are not eligible for the AT grant scheme.

Before applying for the AT Grant

Before making an application for the AT Grant a school should make sure:

  • All possible interventions and accommodations have been implemented, including teaching key skills to support the student

  • Existing equipment within the school has been tried and doesn’t meet the students needs

  • The possibility of procuring the AT out of school funds has been explored

  • The student has been allowed to use his or her own equipment in school and it doesn’t meet their needs

Note - the above points are taken directly from page 3 of Circular 0010/2013.

What kind of equipment is covered by the AT Grant? 

  • Computers/laptops

  • Specific software that supports learning

  • Specialised equipment

  • Communication devices

What kind of equipment is not covered by the AT Grant?

  • Smartphones

  • TVs

  • Any equipment not essential for education

What is the process for application for the AT grant?

 Step 1: The school makes an application for AT to the Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO) by submitting a form along with supporting evidence, namely, professional assessment of the nature and extent of disability, and details of the equipment most appropriate for the needs of the student (The form for special school is available here and for other schools is available here).

It is important to note that for students with visual impairment, the school should not contact the SENO directly but instead do so through the Visiting Teacher.

The application, which must be accompanied by evidence that the AT is essential for effective education, requires the school to specify the following:

  • Teaching key skills and reasonable accommodations and adaptation already tried

  • Description of the need for AT throughout the school day

  • Explanation of why existing equipment does not suffice

  • How the AT will be used in class

Step 2: The SENO then makes a recommendation to the Department of Education and Skills (DES). If the recommendation is approved, the DES informs the school of the level of grant approved.

Step 3: The school must obtain three cost estimates before purchasing the equipment. The purchase must be made within three months of receiving approval.

Can a school appeal if the application is rejected?

Schools can appeal the DES’s decision in the following cases:

  • Assistive technology has not been granted, or

  • Where assistive technology has been granted but the school wishes to appeal the amount of the grant, or the specific equipment that was granted.

Other key points to note:

  • No group applications - The scheme is not relevant to group applications. An application must be made for each individual student

  • Generic equipment - The Department  of Education reserves the right to substitute generic equipment where a particular brand of equipment is recommended.

  • Using Equipment at home: A student can use equipment purchased under the AT grant at home with the agreement of the school but the equipment still belongs to the school.

  • Moving school with equipment: A student can move equipment to another school if it is still suitable and is specialised for their needs. This must be agreed with the SENO or visiting teacher.

Thanks for reading this far!

If you need further information you can read the Department of Education and Skills (2013) Circular Letter 0010/2013: “Scheme of grants towards the purchase of essential assistive technology equipment for students with physical or communicative disabilities. Athlone, IRL: Department of Education and Skills”.

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