Assistive technology grant for students with disabilities
The Department of Education gives a grant to schools to allow them to purchase computers and specialist equipment for use by students with a disability in second-level schools.
The scheme applies to a student with a physical disability or a general learning disability 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 them. The equipment must be essential to the student to access the school curriculum. Examples of assistive technology equipment commonly used include laptop or tablet computers with modified software, joysticks, keyboards, touch pads, tapes, braille equipment and audiology equipment. Telephones, smart phones, iphones, ipods, televisions, plasma screen TV’s, internet access or phone connectivity charges are not covered under the scheme.
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 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 throughout the school day, how the equipment will help the student 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 considered for any student will be the cost of the
equipment. There is no upper limit.
How to apply
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.
Applications for students with visual or hearing impairment should be made to the Visiting Teacher Service for Children with Sensory Impairment. The Visiting Teacher Service will advise the SENO about the relevant requirement for a student’s needs.
A recent comprehensive and professional assessment of the nature and extent of the student's disability and the equipment most appropriate to their needs should accompany the application. This may include a psychological assessment, an occupational therapy report, a physiotherapy report or another professional report.
You can get additional information on ICT for Special Education Needs on the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) website and the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) webpage on the Department of Education and Skills website.
You can also read the most recent circular on the equipment grant (PDF) on the website of the Department of Education.
How to appeal
A school can appeal the decision where:
- Assistive technology has not been granted, or
- Assistive technology has been granted but the school wants to appeal theamount of the grant, or the specific equipment provided.
When submitting the appeal forms, the school should not re-submit the original application or professional reports supplied to the SENO.
If there are new or updated reports – different to the original application – then these can be submitted to the SENO in support of the new application.
An appeal of the decision not to award assistive technology can only be based on the information on which the original decision was made.
Where to apply