Can a School Administrative Unit (SAU) be required to provide to a student a hearing aid as an assistive technology device?
Federal IDEA regulations, at 34 CFR §300.5, define “assistive technology device” to mean “any item, piece of equipment, or produce system…that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability.” Although a hearing aid certainly can fall within this definition, the determination of whether it does so for a particular student must be made by the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team. Likewise, the IEP Team must make the determination of whether such student requires the hearing aid in order to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Even if the IEP Team makes those determinations, however, SAUs are not responsible for providing personal devices such as hearing aids if a student requires their use regardless of whether the child is attending school. (See Comment at 71 Fed. Reg. 156, p. 46581 (Aug. 14, 2006)). Therefore, an SAU is required to provide a hearing aid as an assistive technology device only if the IEP Team determines that the hearing aid functions for the individual student as an assistive technology device and that the student requires the hearing aid in order to receive FAPE, and the student requires use of the hearing aid only when engaged in his/her educational program.