Policy and advocacy work is an important part of what IATP does. We address policy on two levels. The first level is to educate all our state and federal legislators on what we do and on the number of constituents we provide services for on the state level and from their specific area.
The second is to work with specific legislators to get bills passed that impact access to and acquisition of Assistive Technology (AT). On the federal level, this involves meeting with legislators to educate them on how AT funding is crucial to ensuring Illinois residents with disabilities and other health conditions can enhance their independence and participation in all aspects of life through AT programs and services. We provide information specific to Illinois needs so that they can make informed decisions regarding their support for AT legislation and funding.
On the state level, some of our recent efforts include working to see legislation passed which positively impacts students with disabilities and their parents in the following ways:
- Public Act 101-515 incorporated language about Response to Intervention (RTI) and Multiple Tier System of Supports (MTSS) including provisions on informing and engaging parents and use of scientifically valid measures and evidence based interventions. This is the first statutory language on RTI/MTSS in the School Code since Illinois started to implement it in 2008.
- Public Act 100-993 ensured that all parents of students with Individualized Education Plans(IEPs) are notified at least at the annual IEP review meeting about the IEP team’s responsibility to consider the student’s AT needs as required by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and provide IATP’s toll-free number to parents if they have questions about AT.
Education related services is an extremely important part IATP activities and programs in order to increase access to and acquisition of AT for students, especially as it relates to optimizing learning and communication. These efforts include evaluations for students from pre-school through college, allowing schools, students, and families to borrow equipment and other AT devices to determine what works best for their individual needs, and offering trainings for both teachers and those who provide related services such as speech, occupational, and physical therapists.
IATP also provides educational supports that serve families statewide by providing no cost educational advocacy services for any student or family that requests them.
- Students can range in age from early childhood through college
- Students can attend public school, private school, therapeutic school, and/or be home-schooled
- It is offered to any family or school in Illinois
- It includes working with the family on their child’s educational needs, working with the schools, attending IEPs and 504 meetings, doing presentations of parents rights and obligations under the law and helping the family to work cooperatively with the school for the student
- Attending and participating in resolution, mediation, and due process meetings if necessary
- This service is provided with the emphasis on what the student needs to be successful and does not favor the school or the parents
- While students do not have to be AT users to qualify for this service around 94% of them are or are in the process of being evaluated for some type of AT
- Referrals come from a variety of areas including: teachers and schools, doctors, the Illinois Parent Training and Information Centers, the Attorney General’s Office, other agencies that work with families including the Autism Center, Specialized Care for Children, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Groups, the Juvenile Justice Agencies, and psychologists to just mention a few
This service is continuing during the COVID pandemic. All meetings in Illinois are still being held by either Zoom or Go to Meeting.