Diverse Learners

Special Education Supports and Services

Assistive Technology

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) provides assistive technology devices and services in two areas: (1) Assistive Technology (AT) to access to the curriculum; and (2) Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) for communication support.

The appropriate implementation and use of assistive technologies has the ability to increase abilities and provide greater accessibility to educational opportunities for eligible students with disabilities. Assistive technology devices and services can be used to extend physical, social and communication skills and provide the means for academic inclusion. Many students with disabilities have successfully used assistive technologies to minimize barriers to gain access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).


Student using Dynavox T10 device in classroom setting
Student using a Dynavox T10 with mounting for communication access.
Kid displaying bilateral splints for stytlus
Student with bilateral splints for stylus to access an IPAD.
Student using an adaptive splint
Student using a splint for accessing a switch.
CPS student using a Maestro for communication access in classroom setting
Student using a Maestro with 2 head switches for communication access.

Programs & Services

The Assistive Technology Resource Center (ATRC) is a valuable resource center which provides CPS with the ability to provide eligible students with disabilities access to a variety of assistive technology devices and services that may not be available at the school level. The ATRC provides the following services:

  1. Consultations: Assistance with helping to determine if AT or AAC is needed for a student.
  2. Coaching: In-person assistance with implementation strategies for AT & AAC devices in the classroom.
  3. Evaluations: An assessment conducted to help select the appropriate equipment and/or acquire knowledge of the appropriate strategies to give the student access to the curriculum and/or for communication.
  4. Acquisition: Upon the recommendation of the AT or AAC Evaluator, and the agreement of the IEP/504 Plan team, the ATRC will provide trial and/or loaner equipment for qualifying CPS students (if appropriate assistive technology is not available at the school level). All equipment, issued to individual students by the ATRC, is considered on loan to the student until they: a) no longer require the equipment to succeed academically, b) no longer are eligible for IEP/504 services, or c) leave the CPS school system.
  5. Training: A trainer provides instructions on how to use the assistive technologies to access the curriculum and/or communicate. Training resources such as webinars and websites are available online. Additionally, training may be offered in-person or via telephone as needed.
  6. Follow-Up: ATRC conducts periodic status checks for loaner AT devices throughout the district; and will continue to follow-up with staff regarding data collection and equipment use.
  7. Technical Support: We offer support for device repairs and/or replacement for all ATRC recommended and/or loaned equipment.

Students: Any student in the CPS system who has an active IEP or 504 Plan, and requires alternative access to the curriculum and/or communication, but is unable to obtain access to the needed assistive technology at the school level may be serviced through the ATRC.

Student Educational Support System: The ATRC will provide services for school staff, related service staff, and parents in order to support the student's need to access the curriculum and/or communication.

The ATRC provides a variety of assistive technology equipment that allows eligible students to gain access to age/grade appropriate general education curriculum Equipment is matched to each student after assessing the student's abilities and goals.

The ATRC Staff is comprised of qualified general and special education teachers with specialized training and experience in the field of assistive technology, speech language pathologists, and occupational therapists, with consultation from deaf and hard of hearing and vision teachers, when appropriate.

AT Processes

  • School teams consider the assistive technology needs for all students who receive special education services or supports via an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
  • The IEP Team should agree that the student has a need for assistive technology to meet a specific goal.
  • If the IEP team is unable to determine appropriate assistive technology, then a member of the IEP/504 Plan team can submit a referral for an assistive technology evaluation via Specialized Services Management (SSM).
  • The assigned ATRC staff will consult with the referring staff to determine if an evaluation or consultation is needed.
  • Evaluations are completed by a member of the ATRC team. Based on the information provided at the time of the referral, trials with technology, and a review of the student's needs, the ATRC Staff will use his/her knowledge of assistive technology to select a strategy or technology solutions to assist the student with completing a specific goal/task.
  • If equipment is recommended by the ATRC Staff, the IEP/504 Plan team will review the recommendation. If they agree with the recommendation, the student's IEP/504 Plan must be revised to include the recommendations and be associated with a goal (if on an IEP).
  • When the ATRC Staff receives notification from the team that the IEP/504 Plan has been revised, because the team accepts the recommendations, the ATRC Staff will then either send equipment to the school for that student or provide the equipment at a large group training.
  • School based staff, related service staff, parents and/or students will either receive training in-person or utilize online webinars and/or training resources.
  • For AAC systems, large group training is required for staff working with students for whom a communication system is recommended. Training is open and strongly recommended for anyone within the student's community (i.e. parents, guardians, etc.).
  • Follow-up is also required for students receiving equipment. Staff will receive a data collection sheet along with the equipment. Data must be collected and reported back to the ATRC STAFF quarterly. Any member of the Student's Educational Support System can collect data and/or provide the ATRC staff with feedback on the student's use and progress with the equipment.
  • The ATRC will provide technical support for all ATRC equipment. We have a repair technician who will troubleshoot the equipment. When the equipment cannot be repaired internally, the technician will coordinate the repair with the vendor. Replacement loaners will be provided for devices that cannot be repaired.
  • All assistive technology equipment provided by the ATRC is loaned to a student while attending a CPS entity. When a student no longer attends CPS, the equipment must be returned to the ATRC. If a student transfers between schools, the equipment must be sent to the next CPS entity.
  • It is expected that the assistive technology should be implemented within a student's curriculum and associated with a goal in the students IEP. If the IEP/504 Plan team determines that the assistive technology is no longer needed or appropriate, then it must be returned to the ATRC.
  • Referrals can be submitted for a re-evaluation based on changing needs of the student or demands of the school environment. The ATRC Staff will provide support and technical assistance to schools, parents and/or students for the assistive technology recommended and provided by the ATRC.
  • Any assistive technology obtained from any other source other than the ATRC will be considered for support on an individual basis.

Have Questions?

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For questions around special education services, please contact the School Assignments | ODLSS District Representative assigned to support the specific school.

Contact Information

Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services

42 W. Madison St.
Chicago, IL 60602
Phone: 773-553-1800
Fax: 773-553-1801
Email: odlss@cps.edu

School Assignment Services
Phone: 773-553-1847

Student Transportation
Phone: 773-553-2860

Nursing Information
Phone: 773-553-4589

Page Last Modified on Tuesday, November 19, 2019