The purpose of my Department’s Assistive Technology Scheme, as set out in my Department's Circular 0010/2013, is to provide grant-aid to schools to allow them to purchase the type of specialist equipment which has been recommended by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) as being essential for students who have been diagnosed as having a serious physical disability and/or sensory or communicative disability to the extent that their ability to communicate through the medium of speech or writing is materially curtailed.
When sanctioning such equipment, it must be clear that existing equipment in the school is insufficient to meet the child's needs without unduly depriving other children of access to the equipment and without such equipment it will not be possible for the students for serious physical and/or sensory/ communicative disability to access the school curriculum.
The recommendation of the NCSE is based on accompanying professional reports, as necessary from relevant professionals, such as Educational Psychologists, Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists etc.
The circular also outlines the type of equipment that is not provided under the scheme including communication devices or medical or therapy related devices which are not specific educational interventions, or equipment that is not specifically required as essential for school educational access.
Although equipment is sanctioned under the Assistive Technology scheme for use by particular students, it is the property of the school, and the school’s management authority is responsible for maintenance, repair, and insurance of the equipment.
While there are no plans to introduce assistive technology passports for persons with disabilities engaged in the education system currently, a departmental working group has recently been established including NCSE, to review the operation of the scheme and the terms of circular 0010/2013.