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Assistive technology for education

Supporting educational settings in their work with children and young people who have physical, communication and/or sensory difficulties, to enable access to the national curriculum through the use of Assistive Technology.

Educational settings are expected to make reasonable adjustments to ensure full curriculum access to all children. However, some children and young people may require access to equipment/resources not typically available within their or similar educational settings.

Early years settings, local authority schools and academies can access (ATfEST) about any child/young person for whom they have concerns.

Independent educational settings can access ATfEST if the child/young person has an EHCP issued by Leicestershire County Council.

The service specialise in supporting educational settings in their work with children and young people who have physical, communication and/or sensory difficulties, to enable access to the national curriculum through the use of Assistive Technology.

  • The Assistive Technology for Education Specialist is part of the Specialist Teaching Service (STS) and is employed by Leicestershire’s Children and Family Services.
  • Schools or Early Years SEN Inclusion teachers (Area SENDCos) refer children or young people with these difficulties who require the provision of Assistive Technology for educational use. Referrals are considered within STS.
  • ATfEST offers a range of services, specialist assessment and support including making recommendations to STS for specific equipment.
  • We provide guidance and training alongside technical, maintenance, advice and a repair service for a wide range of Assistive Technology provided by our service to educational settings and/ or parents/carers.

When we provide an assessment

Our aim is to enable access to the curriculum. To this end, we will:

  • Gather information from other professionals involved with the child or young person’s education.
  • Spend time in educational settings carrying out assessments and activities with the child or young person.
  • Investigate the child or young person’s views and feelings and encourage understanding and a positive attitude towards Assistive Technology, learning and development.
  • Listen to the concerns of parents/carers, educational setting staff and other professionals associated with the child or young person.
  • Produce a written report in order to detail findings and advice.
  • Give advice to parents/carers and educational setting staff about ways to help the child or young person make progress.

When providing Assistive Technology, our aim is to enable the child or young person to access the curriculum. To this end, we will:

  • Make sure that we have a clear picture of the child or young person’s individual needs.
  • Provide resources and activities within the training session to develop the child or young person’s skills in using the Assistive Technology.
  • Provide an annual monitoring visit to ensure that the equipment continues to be suitable.
  • Encourage educational setting staff to keep parents/carers up-to-date about our work with the child or young person.
  • Promote and maintain the child or young person’s safety and well-being when using Assistive Technology.
  • Encourage educational setting staff to work with parents/carers to monitor the child or young person’s success with the equipment.

ATfEST Criteria

Referrals supported by evidence from outside agencies working with the child, e.g. area SENCo, occupational therapist, speech and language therapist, specialist teacher will be considered when a child or young person has:

  • A substantial and long term (lasting or likely to last for at least 12 months) communication impairment which places a CYP at a disadvantage compared to other children/ young people.
  • A substantial and long term (lasting or likely to last for at least 12 months) physical impairment which places a CYP at a disadvantage compared to other children/ young people.
  • A substantial and long term (lasting or likely to last for at least 12 months) sensory impairment which places a CYP at a disadvantage compared to other children/young people.

In line with their responsibilities in making reasonable adjustments, we would expect that mainstream educational settings should be providing the following:

  • Software: Any software already used within the school or college.
  • Hardware: Headphones, Dictaphone, use of a standard laptop, PC and printing facilities, internet access and putting any supplied device onto the school’s network.

In line with their responsibilities in making reasonable adjustments, we would expect that Special schools and units should be providing the following:

  • Software: Any software already used within the educational setting.
  • Hardware: Headphones, Dictaphone, , use of a standard laptop, specialist keyboard, specialist mouse, and Rollerball Joystick, PC and printing facilities, internet access and putting any supplied device onto the educational settings network.

Partnership with parents and carers

The ATfEST Specialist:

  • gives advice to parents about ways to help the child or young person make progress.
  • encourages educational setting staff to work with parents/carers to monitor the child or young person’s success with the Assistive Technology.
  • encourages educational setting staff to keep parents/carers up-to-date about our work with the child or young person.
  • works with educational settings and parents/carers in the planning for educational setting entry/transfer by assessing the child/young person for Assistive Technology.

ATfEST provides assistive technology to be used within the CYPs school.  When it is required that Assistive Technology needs to be used at home this should be discussed between the educational setting and parents/carers.

Specialised AAC Services in England

The Electronic Assistive Technology Service (EATS) provide assessment for and provision of high tech AAC systems for people with the most complex needs.  Across England, AAC Services are provided by specialist 'hub' services such as EATS - but also by local AAC Services (ATfEST, schools and NHS Speech and Language Therapists (SaLTs). These local services aim to meet the needs of those who do not meet hub eligibility.

Any communication referral is made by the child or young person’s SALT.  Who will consider whether the referral meets the EATs criteria or whether it comes under a local provision by ATfEST.

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