Special Education

Attachment 2

Consideration of Special Factors

The following information provides examples of guiding questions a Committee may use to determine whether certain students need a particular device or service (including an intervention, accommodation, or other program modification) in order for the student to receive a free appropriate public education.

Students who demonstrate behaviors which impede learning

A functional behavioral assessment (FBA) is conducted as part of an individual evaluation for each student with a disability who has behaviors that impede his or her learning or that of others. A FBA must also be conducted when disciplinary actions have resulted in the suspension or removal of the student from his or her current program for more than 10 days in a school year.  FBAs provide information on why a student engages in a behavior, when the student is most likely to demonstrate the behavior and situations in which the behavior is least likely to occur.  The individualized education program (IEP) of a student whose behavior impedes his or her learning or that of others must indicate the strategies, including positive behavioral interventions and supports to address a student’s behavior needs. Further information on functional behavioral assessments may be found in the July 1998 memorandum entitled, Guidance on Functional Behavioral Assessments for Students with Disabilities.

Based on the results of the FBA, the Committee must identify strategies, including positive behavioral interventions and supports to address those behaviors.  When a student’s behaviors are such that they are impeding learning, the IEP must identify, as appropriate, the student’s present levels and needs and annual goals, (and if required for certain students, short-term objectives and/or benchmarks), related to behaviors, and the special education and related services, supplementary aids and services to be provided to the student, or on behalf of the student, any needed program modifications, and any supports for school personnel needed to address the behavior.

In determining the supports, services, interventions or program modifications a student may need to address behaviors that impede learning, the Committee should consider the following questions:

  • What behavior(s) does the student exhibit that are different from those of same-age peers?
  • When is the student most likely to exhibit the problem behavior?
  • What are the general conditions under which a behavior usually occurs and probable consequences that serve to maintain it?
  • What contextual factors (including cognitive and affective factors) contribute to the behavior?
  • What specific events appear to be contributing to the student’s problem behavior?
  • What function(s) does the problem behavior serve for the student?
  • What might the student be communicating through problem behavior?
  • When is the student less likely to engage in the problem behavior?
  • Does the student’s behavior problem persist despite consistently implemented behavioral management strategies?
  • Does the student’s behavior place him/her or others at risk of harm or injury?
  • Have the student’s cultural norms been considered relative to the behavior(s) in question?
  • Do health-related issues affect the behavior?
  • Does the student’s disability affect his/her ability to control the behavior?
  • Does the student’s disability affect his/her understanding of the consequences of the behavior?
  • What accommodations are necessary for instruction and testing?
  • Does the student need an individual behavioral intervention plan?


Students with limited English proficiency

For all students with disabilities with limited English proficiency, the Committee must consider how the student’s language needs relate to the IEP.  Schools must provide a student with limited English proficiency with alternative language services to enable him/her to acquire proficiency in English and to provide him/her with meaningful access to the content of the educational curriculum that is available to all students, including special education and related services.  The Committee should consider the following questions:

  • Has the student been assessed in English as well as his/her native language?
  • Did the evaluation of the student with limited English proficiency measure the extent to which the student has a disability and needs special education rather than measure the student’s English language skills?
  • Does the disability impact on the student’s involvement and progress in the bilingual education or English as a Second Language (ESL) program of the general curriculum?
  • What language will be used for this student’s instruction?
  • What language or mode of communication will be used to address parents or family members of the student?
  • What accommodations are necessary for instruction and testing?
  • What other language services (i.e., English as a second language, bilingual education) must be provided to ensure meaningful access to general and special education and related services?

Students with visual impairments

When a student is blind or visually impaired, the Committee must provide instruction in Braille and the use of Braille unless the Committee determines, after an evaluation of the student’s reading and writing skills, needs and appropriate reading and writing media, that instruction in Braille or the use of Braille is not appropriate for this student.  The student’s future needs for instruction in Braille or the use of Braille must also be considered.  The Committee should consider the following questions:

  • Does the student have a disability in addition to blindness that would make it difficult for him/her to use his or her hands?
  • Does the student have residual vision?
  • Does the student use or need to learn to use assistive technology for reading and writing?
  • Is the student’s academic progress impeded by the current method of reading?
  • Does the student use Braille, large print, recordings or regular print?
  • Will the student need to use Braille, large print or recordings in the future?
  • Have provisions been made to obtain in Braille the printed materials used by sighted students?
  • Does the student need instruction in orientation and mobility?
  • Does the student have appropriate listening skills?
  • Does the student have age-appropriate social skills?
  • What skills does the student need to enable him or her to learn effectively?
  • What accommodations are necessary for instruction and testing?
  • What is the potential loss of remaining vision?
  • What is the amount of reading required of the student in the general education curriculum?
  • Does the student have language-related learning disabilities?

Additional information explaining the responsibilities of educational agencies for students with visual impairments may be found in the June 8, 2000 Federal Register/ Vol. 65, No. 111 Educating Blind and Visually Impaired Students: Policy Guidance.

For additional guidance relating to accessible instructional materials for students, see http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/aim/AIMmemo1209.htm.

Students with communication needs

The Committee must consider the communication needs of the student, and in the case of a student who is deaf or hard of hearing, consider the student’s language and communication needs.  The Committee must consider the student’s opportunities for direct interaction with peers and educational personnel in the student’s own language and communication mode.  Opportunities for direct interaction (without needing an interpreter) in the student’s own language and communication mode must also be described.  The Committee should consider the following questions:

  • Does the student use American Sign Language?
  • What mode of communication does the student use?
  • What mode of communication does the family prefer?
  • Is an interpreter or translator needed for the student to participate in and benefit from classroom instruction and/or interaction with peers and educational personnel?
  • Does the student require assistive devices to facilitate the development and use of meaningful language and/or a mode of communication?
  • Does the student require the use of hearing aids and assistive listening devices in order to maximize auditory training and language development in classrooms, related school activities and at home?
  • What environmental modifications are necessary to address communication needs?
  • Are there opportunities for the student to participate in direct communication with peers and educational personnel?
  • What opportunities exist for direct instruction (without an interpreter) in the student’s language and/or mode of communication?

Students who may need assistive technology devices and services

Some students may require assistive technology devices and services to benefit from a free appropriate public education (FAPE).  The Committee must also consider whether the use of school-purchased assistive technology devices must be used in the student’s home or in other settings in order for the student to receive FAPE. Parental input in this area is especially important.  The Committee should consider the following questions:

  • What can the student do now with and without assistive technology devices and services?
  • What does the student need to be able to do?
  • Can assistive technology devices and services facilitate student success in a less restrictive environment?
  • Does the student need assistive technology devices and services to access the general curriculum or to participate in nonacademic and extracurricular activities?
  • What assistive technology services would help the student participate in the general curriculum and/or classes?
  • Does the student need assistive technology devices and services to benefit from educational/printed materials in alternative formats?
  • Does the student need assistive technology devices and services to access auditory information?
  • Does the student need assistive technology devices and services for written communication/computer access?
  • Does the student need an assistive technology device or service for communication?
  • Does the student need assistive technology devices to participate in State and district-wide testing?
  • Will the student, staff and/or parents need training to facilitate the student’s use of the assistive technology devices?
  • How can assistive technology devices and services be integrated into the student’s program across settings such as work placements and for homework?
Last Updated: December 10, 2010