One way IATP increases information and knowledge in the area of education is by implementing change through affecting legislative advocacy and policy. IATP helped to pass Public Act 100-0993 during the January-May 2018 legislative session, which requires that students’ IEP teams must provide information around AT to the parent or guardian present in their first IEP meeting. Prior to this legislation, there was no requirement for IEP teams to disclose information about AT. As a result of this, IEP teams could make the decision themselves whether a student needed AT. IATP worked with the state board of education and state legislators to pass this act, ensuring that AT is considered for all students and that parents learn about resources from IATP. IATP was able to do this by having two staff on their team – a public policy and education liaison and an attorney who writes legislation – who have expertise tailored to this line of work. This new mandate has increased AT awareness among parents, school districts, special education and general education teachers, and students. Schools now also have documentation that they have discussed AT with parents. Since the passage of this bill, the number of students IATP worked with in 2018 for whom AT became a part of their IEP increased from 288 to 864.
If other AT programs have the human resources to do this kind of work, IATP suggests that it is important to build a relationship with legislators and their staff. Staff often are as crucial as the legislator since they have the policy-maker’s ear all the time and get needed information to them. Some AT programs may already have a relationship with their board of education. Laying the groundwork to launch or strengthen these relationships means the board of education will become more active in the AT program, understand the benefits of AT, and be more willing to take on issues around AT and education.