Thursday, 27 June 2019

Questions (74)

Michael McGrath

Question:

74. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the decision to refuse an application for a grant for assistive technology for pupils with a physical or communicative disability by a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27428/19]

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 with more complex disabilities 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 National Council for Special Education (NCSE) through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) is responsible for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports. SENOs also make recommendations to my Department where assistive technology/specialised equipment is required. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in making recommendations for support.

In order to qualify for equipment under the assistive technology scheme, a student must have been diagnosed with a physical or communicative disability and must also have a recommendation in a professional assessment that the equipment is essential in order to allow the student to access the curriculum. It must also be clear that the existing I.T. equipment in the school is insufficient to meet the child's needs.

Schools make applications directly to the SENO, providing details of the student’s special educational needs or disability, including details of the approach taken by the school in making relevant interventions.

SENOs will review the application, and professional reports provided in support of same, in order to establish whether the criteria of the scheme have been met. They will then make a recommendation to my Department as to whether or not assistive technology is required; and based on this recommendation, my Department will decide on the level of grant, if any, to be provided.

In this instance the SENO was unable to recommend the equipment applied for as the student in question did not have a diagnosed disability or medical condition in line with my Department’s Circulars.

As this student is commencing post-primary school in September, if new medical evidence is available an application for Assistive Technology for the 2019/20 school year can be submitted by the post-primary school in which the student is enrolling. The basis for this is that while applications are made under the Assistive Technology scheme in respect of individual pupils, equipment provided will be the property of schools; and they make application for same, having considered that the equipment available to them under the school’s general IT provision is insufficient to meet the student’s needs.

Applications can only be considered therefore, where the student is enrolled in the school to which the equipment would be provided.

All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.