Are school districts responsible for mapping (or programming) a student’s cochlear implant?
The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) answers this question in a Technical Assistance Paper (TAP): Meeting the Educational Needs of Students with Cochlear Implants and IDEA 2004 (2007, p. 7):
Many school districts are unclear as to whether they are responsible for mapping (or programming) a student’s cochlear implant. Per [IDEA] sections 300.5 and 300.6 [of Title 34], Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), the definitions of assistive technology and related services do not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of such device. In accordance with IDEA 34 CFR § Section 300.34(b)(1), related services do not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, the optimization of that device’s functioning (e.g., mapping), maintenance of that device, or the replacement of that device.
However, per IDEA (Section 300.34(b)(2), CFR), the exclusion of the term does not limit the right of a child with a cochlear implant to receive related services that are determined by the IEP team to be necessary for the student nor does it prevent the routine checking of an external component of a surgically implanted device to make sure it is functioning properly as required in Section 300.113(b), CFR.
Essentially, the question is:
How is the school district providing equal access to instruction for the provision of FAPE as required by IDEA and Title II of the ADA?
For example, if a battery goes dead during instruction time – does the school have a plan for how they are ensuring equal and timely access to instruction? This may mean that they have a backup battery just at school for this purpose, a CI sleeve that connects with an FM system, etc. If they do not have backups and plans in place – how can they prove they are providing timely and equal access to instruction?
The information contained in the FAQs does not constitute legal advice. Please refer to the original sources listed in each FAQ for more information.