Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Questions (129)

Kate O'Connell

Question:

129. Deputy Kate O'Connell asked the Minister for Education and Skills if assistive technology will be provided to a person (details supplied). [48444/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Under the Assistive Technology scheme, as set out in my Department’s Circular 0010/2013, funding is provided to schools towards the cost of computers and specialist equipment, which are required for educational purposes. Equipment is provided under this scheme for children who, in order to access the school curriculum, require essential specialist equipment which they do not already have, or which cannot be provided for them through the school’s existing IT provision.  

The criteria which must be evidenced to qualify for support under the Department’s Assistive Technology scheme are that the professional reports state in each case that the equipment is essential for the effective education of the child, illustrating how the recommended equipment is to be used for educational purposes throughout the school day. Equipment may only be provided where medical and/or other professional reports outline that the degree of communicative disability is such that this equipment is essential to allow the pupil to access education and set out how the equipment will provide for this.

The type of equipment provided under the assistive technology scheme is varied, and includes audiological supports for students with hearing impairment, braille equipment for children with visual impairment, and computer equipment with associated modified software for students with physical or severe communicative disabilities.

Communication devices or medical or therapy related devices which are not specific educational interventions or equipment specifically required as essential for school educational access, and which have a general application outside of school, are not provided for under the Assistive Technology scheme, however. Such equipment is normally provided for children with disabilities by the Health Service Executive (HSE).

With regard to the student referred to by the deputy, a letter issued to his school on 27 February 2018, granting written sanction to purchase equipment that would enable him to access the curriculum.

The school had also applied for a specific communicative software programme, and sanction was not granted for the purchase of same on the basis that it was a communication aid and may be provided by the HSE through its Aids and Appliances scheme. In a letter to the school on 21 August 2018, they were advised that it would be open to the school or the student’s parents to contact the local Health Centre with a view to making an application for same, using the contact information available on www.hse.ie.