Many parents have children with communication deficits, as a result of having cerebral palsy, autism, traumatic brain injury, or any other disability. Communication devices can appear to be a relatively easy way to solve the problem, but who is going to pay for it? There are two ways to seek funding for the communication device: the school or the insurance carrier. These two funding sources can pay for a communication device, but they require two different kinds of proof.
If you want the school to pay for the communication device, you must show that the device is an "educational necessary" or has "educational necessity". That is because a school is only required to meet a child's educational needs. If you can show that a communication device allows your child to benefit from a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), then the school should pay for it. Under the IDEA, the device would be considered a "related service or supplementary aid." Request an Assistive Technology evaluation. That is a very specific evaluation that will determine your child's educational needs for a communication device. If your school doesn't provide an Assistive Technology evaluation, seek an evaluation to determine the educational necessity of the device. Keep in mind, however, that if the school pays for it, the device belongs to the school and will be considered school property.
If you want insurance to pay for the communication device, you must show that the device is "medically necessary" or has "medical necessity." An insurance provider is only concerned about paying for services or products deemed medically necessary. Communication devices are medically necessary when the diagnosed condition impairs the individual's ability to communicate effectively. Devices address the medical condition by attempting to restore lost function, forestall further functional decline, or provide an alternative means of performing the affected function. If the insurance provider pays for the device, you (not the school) own the device.
Also, remember that it is very common that the communication device would fall into both categories of being both an educational and medical necessity.