The Department of Education and Skills gives a grant to schools to allow them to purchase equipment for use by students with a disability in second-level schools.
The scheme applies to a student with a physical disability or a student who has a communications disability that makes ordinary communication through speech and writing impossible.
The purpose of the scheme is to provide the student with equipment that will be of direct educational benefit to him/her. An example of such equipment would be a computer, tape recorder, word processor, drafting machine, induction loop, braille equipment and software.
The equipment is kept in the school. However, the Board of Management may give permission for a student to use the equipment at home. The equipment remains the property of the school and will usually be passed on to another student or to another school, when the school no longer needs it.
The Department of Education and Skills must be satisfied that the student is capable of benefiting from the equipment in question. Generally the school must show that the student needs the equipment during the school day and that the existing equipment in the school cannot meet the student's needs without depriving other students of access to the equipment.
Schools must wait for approval before buying equipment. When the equipment has been bought, receipted invoices should be sent with claims for payment. Copies of these should be kept in the school account.
The Board of Management of the school is responsible for insurance, maintenance, repair and service charges. One teacher should be given the responsibility for managing the equipment and making sure that it is used effectively in the school.
The rate of the grant for any student will be the cost of the equipment, up to a maximum of €3,800. If the nature of the equipment warrants it, a higher grant may be considered.
The school management should submit applications for special equipment to the Special Needs Education Organiser (SENO) with responsibility for that school. (You will find a contact list of SENOs and an application form on the website of the National Council for Special Education. A recent comprehensive and professional assessment of the nature and extent of the student's disability and the equipment most appropriate to his/her needs should accompany the application. This may include a psychological assessment, an occupational therapy report, a physiotherapy report or another professional report.
You can also read the most recent circular on the equipment grant on the website of the Department of Education and Skills.
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If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.