Senator Fiona O’Loughlin calls for action in the area of assisted technology for students

Fianna Fail education spokesperson in Seanad Eireann, Senator Fiona O’Loughlin called on the Minister for Special Education to intervene to ensure that assisted technology is supplied to students who need it.

Senator O’Loughlin said “Many parents have contacted me over the last months. They have struggled to access the assistive technology that their occupational therapists have absolutely, unequivocally confirmed was needed for their children. I have no doubt that that is reflected around the country.”

“Assistive technology is not a luxury. It is a necessity for those who need it. Ireland prides itself on having a world-class education system that is inclusive, free at the point of use, open to everyone and supportive of everyone. As the Fianna Fáil spokesperson on education in the Seanad, I am proud that our party introduced free education. Education is still something that our party is passionate about.

“One child had two professional assessment reports from an occupational therapist and an educational psychologist, both of which supported and confirmed his need to be supplied with assistive technology. The Department is now, for some reason, requesting a third evaluation. It will take time and more money. This child clearly needs this additional educational support.”

“I was contacted by a parent whose daughter also required assisted technology. She was in sixth class then and was told to reapply to have it set up for first year. She was then told to reapply the following year, and nothing happened. In the second year, they applied again and were told by the Department that the grant had been posted to the school. No cheque ever arrived. They chased this all-last year. Recently, they had to apply again for a third time. Their daughter was approved by the Department but again nothing happened. When the parent contacted me, I again tried to advocate on her behalf with the office of the Minister of State, Deputy Josepha Madigan, but did not get anywhere. It was only when I got a colleague in the Dáil to table a parliamentary question that the Department finally moved on this.”

Fiona concluded by saying “This is just not acceptable; we need to ensure that bureaucracy does not get in the way of a childs right to education. Ensuring that children receive a high-quality education must be our absolute priority.”