PrAACtical Questions: Can Students Take Their AAC Devices Home?

July 2, 2013 by - 15 Comments

PrAACtical Questions: Can Students Take Their AAC Devices Home?
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PrAACtical Questions: Can Students Take Their AAC Devices Home?

Although this question was settled definitively in 1991 by US Special Education Programs former director Judith Schrag, there are still some misinformed professionals saying otherwise. In most cases, administrators cannot limit AAC device use to school grounds only. As long as the team agrees that the student needs to be able to communicate throughout the day, then the AAC device can go home in the afternoon, on weekends, on holiday breaks, and during the summer.

The “Schrag Letter” (OSEP, November 27, 1991) asserted that “if the IEP team determines that a particular assistive technology item is required for home use in order for a particular child to be provided Free Appropriate Public Education, the technology must be provided to implement the IEP.”

There may be an IEP team out there somewhere who feels that a student only needs to communicate during the 6-hour school day, but we haven’t met them. And hope we never do.


You can see the Schrag letter here.

And, just in case you need it, here is the IDEA verbiage.

From IDEA, Section 300.105 (Assistive Technology)

A. Each public agency must ensure that assistive technology devices or assistive technology services, or both, as those terms are defined in Sec. Sec. 300.5 and 300.6, respectively, are made available to a child with a disability if required as a part of the child’s–

1. Special education under Sec. 300.36;

2. Related services under Sec. 300.34; or

3. Supplementary aids and services under Sec. Sec. 300.38 and 300.114(a)(2)(ii).

B. On a case-by-case basis, the use of school-purchased assistive technology devices in a child’s home or in other settings is required if the child’s IEP Team determines that the child needs access to those devices in order to receive FAPE.

[Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(1), 1412(a)(12)(B)(i)]


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This post was written by Carole Zangari


  • Thank you Carole! This post is so informative and answers such a common question. What a wonderful resource for parents and professionals.

    • Avatar photo Carole Zangari says:

      Glad it is helpful. We see this question pop up on different forums from time to time, so I thought it would be a good idea to address it here. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Rebecca!

  • Adrienne says:

    When school staff would ask ‘does he need to take his device there (eg, playground, gym, art class, etc. as they moved around the school), a speech therapist we worked with early on would typically respond ‘Only if the other kids are going to take their voices.’.

  • Cami Minks says:

    Well, i have met that school. It seems we have schools in Northern VA that think gestures and signs are good enough for students to communicate at home. Please help! My student can not take his device home.

    • Avatar photo Carole Zangari says:

      Cami, I’m so sorry to hear about that situation. I’m not sure what district you are with but you can reach out to your school’s AT Team. You may want to reference some of the documents mentioned in this post when you speak with them, but my guess is that they already know about it and just need to connect with the school leadership to get everyone on the same page. I know that the AT team in Loudoun County have a strong background in this area. Perhaps they can assist in some way if you get stuck.

      • Cami Minks says:

        What I need is a way to prove that a student needs to take their device home to access FAPE.

        • Avatar photo Carole Zangari says:

          Cami, how frustrating! I’ve never encountered an IEP team who felt that communication and literacy should be confined to the school day and premises, but I can imagine how it makes your blood boil! I am not sure how far your school is from Loudoun County, but I would definitely reach out to Chris Bugaj, Sally Norton-Darr, or Judie Schoonover there. You can also reach out to your Tech Act project ( as I’m sure they would be strong allies in this fight. The position of keeping AAC limited to school grounds is not a legally defensible one, as far as I can tell. Your students are lucky to have you on their side in this battle against archaic thinking. Stay strong, Cami!!

  • tucker says:

    I have a bi-lingual student with an AAC system that is in an English speaking classroom at school. The student DOES take the device home at night. However, the augmentative communication app that is on the mobile technology is an English app. The parents of the student do not speak English and want the district to provide an APP that speaks their home language as well as English

  • SRI says:

    Thanks for posting this blog. Our school district is saying that they want to determine progress first before “they” make a decision to send it home. we have called an IEP meeting to discuss this next week.
    The blog states -if the IEP team agrees-then it can be sent home..
    can you help us understand what it means to have IEP team agree? -the school district coordinator is opposing this. and we expect her to do the same in the IEP.

    • Avatar photo Carole Zangari says:

      Thanks for your comment. These are always tricky situations, but I think it is risky to erect barriers to home AAC use unless there is substantive data to support that approach. I have seen cases where separate AAC devices were purchased by the school for home use because of transportation concerns and other situations in which the school insisted on training the family before sending the device home. Other than those instances I have not seen any situations in which delaying home use of AAC has been supported in due process or mediation. As of 1991, the federal DOE has advised that “If an IEP team determines that a child with a disability needs access to an assistive technology device at home as a matter of FAPE, then the school district must provide the device for home use in order to implement the child’s IEP.” I am not a legal expert so I don’t want to interpret what it means to have the IEP team make this determination in a legal sense. This document may be helpful, though. . Best of luck in your efforts to advocate for what this student needs. Keep us posted.

  • Amanda Marks says:

    I’ve been referring to this post for years now, and luckily had made a paper copy of the letter. I wanted to bring it to your attention, though, that the link is now broken and does not bring you to the document. I’m hoping the letter is still relevant since this is the only place I can find information on it!

  • Mindy Youngs says:

    Such a great post! I am having the reverse issue and need advice please! The school did provide an AAC Device with LAMP words for life (and allows us to take it home) but refuses to turn on the Realized Language tracking to track my daughters usage and language development to support tracking for goals and progress, etc. So we signed IEP but disagreed with their position and instead notified them we will send our home device with realized language tracking on it. They are now saying we cannot do that – is that even legal? She needs her device to access fape but does it specify it has to be school issued aac device? What if it was a dedicated device provided by Medi-Cal for example – they can’t decline that? Thanks!

    • Avatar photo Carole Zangari says:

      Mindy, thanks for your message. As far as I know, the school is under no obligation to use a device funded through another source (including Medicaid), though many do so. My understanding is that their responsibility is to provide access to an appropriate device, so as long as the one that they supply is adequate for the student’s needs, they are in compliance. If the IEP team came to the conclusion that data logging was necessary, then it seems that there would be an obligation to provide a device with that capability (through Realize or another approach) and utilize it. We are not lawyers and can’t provide legal advice, though, so you may want to seek support that knows the legalities of this in your state. Good luck with this!

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