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Amazing Resource Directory Part 1 – Tips Galore-

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I would like to mention, that I know of dozens who have used this directory in many ways to locate money or resources.

 

ABLEDATA Informed Consumer’s Guide to Funding Assistive Technology

A tremendous variety of assistive technology (AT) is now available to enable
people with disabilities to live independently, to achieve higher levels of
education, to participate in activities of the workplace, and to engage in
hobbies and recreational activities. When people with disabilities and their
families seek to purchase these products, they often find that AT products can
be expensive and that locating and obtaining financial assistance to purchase
them can be a frustrating experience. Funding is often difficult to find and may
seem to be unavailable. Even when people with disabilities and their families
locate a source of funding, they are often confronted with a maze of eligibility
requirements, restrictions, paperwork, rules, regulations, and denials and
refusals. This Informed Consumer Guide discusses a broad range of potential
sources of funding and funding information for assistive technology and provides
lists of specific organizations and programs from which funding and funding
information are available. The guide also discusses other sources of information
on funding issues and organizations that assist people to find the funds that
they need.

Sources of Funding Information and Assistance

A range of public, private and non-profit organizations assists people
seeking funding to purchase AT. While most of these organizations do not offer
financial assistance themselves, they can provide information on available
funding sources as well as strategies for applying to receive funding. Some of
these organizations are national in scope, while others serve a specific state
or region.

State Assistive Technology Projects

Each U.S. state and territory has a federally-funded assistive technology
project with up-to-date information on assistive technology resources in that
state. The state AT project should be the first source of information consulted
by state residents seeking financial assistance to purchase assistive products.

In addition to information about financial assistance within their respective
states, some state assistive technology projects offer funding programs such as
low-interest loans for the purchase of assistive products. Some state AT
projects also offer other types of assistance, including direct provision of
assistive products; equipment loans, with which equipment owned by the project
may be borrowed for short- or long-term use; and equipment exchanges, with which
used products can be obtained at a discount or free of charge.

The ABLEDATA Web site offers a State
Assistive Technology Projects Resource Center
with updated contact
information on each state’s AT project. In Appendix A of this guide, there is a
complete list of the state assistive technology projects with contact
information that is current as of October 2007.

Centers for Independent Living

Centers for Independent Living (CILs) are local or regional organizations
managed and staffed by individuals with disabilities that provide information
and support to help individuals with disabilities live independently in the
local community. CILs do not provide direct funding, but they are excellent
sources of information about funding resources available locally. There are too
many local Centers for Independent Living to include a complete list in this
Guide; however, the following sources provide contact information for most CILs:

ABLEDATA Funding Resource Center

The ABLEDATA Web site offers a Funding
Resource Center
in the “Resources” area of the site. The Funding Resource
Center lists organizations at the national, state, and local levels that
actually provide funding for the purchase of assistive products or are sources
of funding-related information. Full contact information is provided for each
organization or program.

Note: ABLEDATA is an information resource only. ABLEDATA does not provide
any funding of any kind.

Sources of Funding

Funding for assistive technology can be found from both public and private
sources. Some funding programs are specifically designed to support the
purchase of needed assistive products. Others may provide for the acquisition
of one or more products as part of a larger purpose, such as enabling a child
with disabilities to participate in school or an adult with disabilities to
perform a job. Still more provide funding to adapt commercial products for use
by people with disabilities. The sources of funding for assistive technology
described below cover a broad range of options available to anyone seeking to
purchase assistive products or to adapt a product for use by a person with a
disability.

Alternative Financing Programs

Since 2000, the U.S. government has supported the establishment of
state-based Alternative Financing Programs (AFPs) to provide funding to offset
the cost of assistive technology that can enhance the ability of people with
disabilities to participate in activities in the home, at work, at school, and
in the community. AFPs include Assistive Technology Loan Programs funded
under Title III of the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, and Access to
Telework Loan Programs
funded under the under section 303(b) of the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. Federal AFP grants to the states are
administered by the U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services
Administration.

Assistive Technology Loan Programs

Assistive Technology Loan Programs may offer several types of loans for AT
services, equipment, or training, including home or vehicle modifications. Each
state’s program decides which types of loans to offer as part of its program.
The types of loans offered include:

  • Direct Loans that are provided by the AT loan program itself

  • Guaranteed Loans that are provided by banks to people with

    disabilities who would not qualify for loans without the program providing the

    bank with a guarantee that the loan will be repaid

  • Interest Rate Buy-down Loans for which the program pays a fee to the

    commercial lender to reduce the interest rate on the loan

  • Principal buy-down Loans for which the AT loan program pays part of

    the loan’s principal.

Each state’s AT loan program is funded in part by a Federal grant.

Access to Telework Loan Programs

Individuals with disabilities experience many barriers to employment,
including inadequate transportation, fatigue, inaccessible work environments,
and the need for personal assistance. For many individuals with disabilities,
one way that these barriers can be reduced or eliminated is through telework.
Access to Telework Loan programs provide loans to people with disabilities to
allow them to purchase computers and other equipment so that they either become
self-employed or are able to work from home or other remote sites as employees
or contractors. The loans can be made to support full-time or part-time
employment.

Access to Telework Loans are provided through alternative financing
mechanisms, such as low-interest loan funds; interest buy-down programs;
revolving loan funds; loan guarantee or insurance programs; and programs
operated by a partnership among private entities for the purchase, lease, or
other acquisition of computers and other equipment, including adaptive
equipment. As with other loans, the borrower must demonstrate an ability to
repay before the loan will be made. Access to Telework Loan programs are funded
in part by federal grants to states and Indian tribes.

For more information on the Alternative Financing Programs, visit the
Alternative Financing Technical Assistance Project’s (AFTAP’s) Web site at http://www.resna.org/AFTAP/. AFTAP
provides detailed descriptions of each state’s AFP, information and statistics
on each AFP’s lending practices as well as success stories describing how
individuals with disabilities used AFP loans to enhance their lives.

ABLEDATA’s Alternative
Financing Programs Resource Center
provides current contact
information on each state’s AFP. A list of Alternative Financing Programs for
each state and territory, with complete contact information updated as of
October 2007, can be found below in Appendix B.

Insurance

Medicare, Medicaid, private health or disability insurance, and Worker’s
Compensation may pay for some assistive technology. In most cases, a
demonstration of the medical necessity for the product or equipment and a
prescription from a doctor or other professional will be required. Applying for
funding from any private or public insurance program may be difficult as the
applicant usually must be very familiar with the application process and the
program’s regulations. Below, this guide provides a section entitled, “The
Application Process,” that can provide some guidance and other tips that may be
especially helpful when applying for funding from insurance programs.

Schools and Educational Systems

For a child with disabilities, local school districts may pay for devices and
auxiliary aids used by the child if the products are necessary for that child to
function in the classroom. Parents must be prepared to demonstrate how the
device will enhance their child’s ability to obtain an appropriate education in
the least restrictive environment possible, which is the legal requirement under
the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under IDEA, each public
school child who receives special education and related services must have an
Individualized Education Program (IEP) that describes the goals set for the
child for each school year, as well as any special supports that are needed to
help achieve those goals. The IEP is developed jointly by teachers, parents,
school administrators, related services personnel, and students (when
appropriate). Including a detailed justification for the purchase of one or more
assistive products in a child’s IEP is one of the most frequently used methods
to obtain funding for the product(s) from a school system. The “Publications”
list at the conclusion of this Guide includes publications on AT funding in
schools.

Vocational Rehabilitation and Other Sources to Fund AT for Employment

State vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies will often pay for assistive
technology if the technology will enhance the worker’s ability to prepare for,
get, or keep a job. Many VR agencies are more likely to pay for AT to help a
worker keep a job than to help a worker prepare for a possible job. In some
states, the agency may also pay for AT even if employment is not an expected
outcome, as long the device will improve the individual’s ability to function
independently. In most cases, the person seeking assistance is required to meet
eligibility requirements and be a client of the agency. The ABLEDATA
Vocational Rehabilitation Resource Center
on the ABLEDATA Web site
provides contact information for state vocational rehabilitation agencies.

Some private and public employers may also provide funding to purchase
assistive products for use by their employees with disabilities in the
workplace. In fact, purchase of AT may be required as a reasonable accommodation
for an employee with a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The
Job Accommodation Network (http://www.jan.wvu.edu/), funded by the U.S.
Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, provides a free
consulting service to aid employers and employees to create individualized
worksite accommodations solutions and develop strategies to fund the acquisition
of any necessary AT.

State Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Programs

Many states have established programs to provide adaptive telecommunications
equipment for deaf and hard of hearing individuals and others who need adaptive
equipment for telecommunications. While the equipment offered varies by program,
the products available generally include the following:

  • text telephones (TTs)

  • visual or tactile signalers

  • voice carry over (VCO) telephones

  • amplified telephones

  • in-line amplifiers

  • large visual display text telephones

  • voice activated telephones

  • braille telecommunication devices

  • ringers

  • speech aids.

A list of the state telecommunications equipment distribution programs is
available in Appendix D. Contact the program for a specific state to determine
the eligibility requirements and application procedures as well as the types of
equipment available.

Other State or Local Agencies

Other state or local agencies that may provide funding for assistive
technology include agencies for the aging, for persons who are blind or visually
impaired, for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, and for persons with
developmental disabilities. Program details and organizational structure vary
widely by state and locality. The State Assistive Technology Programs are
reliable sources of information about the resources that are available through
state and local government programs. To see a list of state agencies that offer
disability-related information, funding or other resources, go to the ABLEDATA
State Government Resource Center
on the ABLEDATA Web site.

Motor Vehicle Adaptive Equipment Reimbursement Programs

Most major auto manufacturers offer partial reimbursement for adaptive
equipment such as hand controls, ramps or lifts installed on new or late-model
vehicles purchased from the company through an authorized dealer. Leased
vehicles may also qualify, depending on the specific program. Usually, the
reimbursement limit is $1,000. Many reimbursement programs are part of larger
programs that help vehicle owners locate and select adaptive equipment that is
best suited to their cars or trucks. A list of the mobility
equipment/reimbursement programs offered by the major auto companies is
available in Appendix E.

Veterans Benefits

Veterans may be entitled to assistive technology equipment or devices as part
of their Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care benefits if the
equipment or device is determined to be medically necessary. In addition, the
VA’s Blind Rehabilitation Service may pay for devices for veterans who are blind
or visually impaired, and the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment
Service may provide employment-related AT as part of its Independent Living
Program. Contact information for each of these VA programs is provided in the
list of National Funding Sources in Appendix F.

The Application Process

As a general rule, it is rarely possible to simply walk into an organization
that provides funding for assistive technology and walk out with the needed
product(s), without going through some kind of application or eligibility
process.

Laying the Groundwork

To lay the groundwork for an AT funding application, two basic steps are
required—(1) determining what assistive technology is needed and (2) assembling
and organizing all documentation needed to complete the application process.

Individuals with long-term disability may already be familiar with the types
of devices they need, and may only wish to replace old or outdated technology
with newer technology of the same general type. But if the user does not already
know what sort of device is needed, there are several possible sources of
information and advice:

  • Therapist, physician, or rehabilitation professionalMany public

    and private funding sources require a prescription from a doctor, a therapist or

    another professional in the healthcare or rehabilitation field. Individuals who

    have not previously selected or purchased AT or whose disabilities have changed

    should have an appropriate, thorough evaluation to determine what specific

    products are best suited to their needs.

  • AT consulting serviceAssistive technology consulting services are

    offered by public, nonprofit, and private organizations and companies. Some

    State Assistive Technology Projects, Centers for Independent Living, and state

    and local government agencies offer consulting services staffed by professionals

    and/or consumers. If these organizations do not provide the service, their staff

    members may be able to provide referrals to local private consultants or

    occupational or other therapists who specialize in this area.

  • Consumer or caregiver support group Many support groups offer

    consultations and advice, either formally or informally. They also may maintain

    resource lists that include information on local private consultants or

    occupational or other therapists.

The second step in the process is to gather and organize the information and
documentation necessary to support the application for funding. Whether
assistance is sought from an insurance company, a community organization, a
government agency, or another resource, having the supporting information
organized and available is critical and will help alleviate frustration and
unnecessary delays. The following information is commonly required for an
application for AT funding:

  • Primary Disability

  • Time of Onset

  • Cause of Disability

  • Secondary Disability

  • Time of Onset of Secondary Disability

  • Cause of Secondary Disability

  • Employment History

  • Family Gross Income

  • Monthly Expenses (such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, outstanding

    loans and bills, medical expenses)

  • Health Insurance Information

  • Names, Ages, and Relationship of Dependents.

An organization may require that an applicant have documentation (such as pay
stubs, tax returns, identification cards or recent bills) to verify some or all
of this information. Documentation requirements usually are included in an
application’s instructions.

Preparing a Justification Statement

Whatever the funding source, it is likely that a statement of justification
will be required. This is particularly true for government programs. The nature
of the required justification varies, and individuals seeking assistance should
inquire about the requirements of the organization from which they seek funding
prior to making the application. The following are some basic guidelines to
keep in mind when preparing a justification statement:

  • When the funding source is a public or private insurance policy, the

    statement is usually required to indicate the medical necessity of the purchase,

    and it should come from a physician or therapist.

  • State vocational rehabilitation agencies need a statement of justification

    focusing on how the technology will enhance the individual’s ability to prepare

    for, get, or keep a job, or how it will improve the individual’s ability to

    function independently.

  • Schools need a statement showing how the assistive technology will enhance

    the child’s ability to obtain an appropriate education in the least restrictive

    environment possible.

Other funding sources have their own specific requirements. Success in
securing funding frequently depends on the applicant’s ability to address each
agency’s unique requirements in a funding request.

What to Do if the Application is Rejected

When an application for funding is denied, two federally funded programs may
be able to provide advice and assistance in case the applicant wants to appeal
or otherwise seek to overturn the denial. Congressionally mandated Client
Assistance Programs and Protection and Advocacy Programs are funded by the U.S.
Department of Education in each U.S. state and territory.

Client Assistance Programs

Each state has a Client Assistance Program (CAP) that provides information
and assistance to individuals with disabilities who are seeking or receiving
services from certain government-funded programs, including vocational
rehabilitation, CILs, agencies for the blind, and other programs funded under
the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Some of the programs covered by the CAP, notably
vocational rehabilitation, often provide funding for AT, and the CAP may be able
to help a client who is having trouble getting needed AT funding. A CAP also may
provide valuable advice and assistance to a person who is unsure about the
funding program(s) to which he or she should apply.

Protection and Advocacy Programs

In addition to a CAP, each state has a Protection and Advocacy (P&A)
program whose job is to advocate for the legal rights of persons with
disabilities, such as full access to inclusive educational programs, financial
entitlements, health care, accessible housing, and employment. The scope of a
P&A program is broader than the scope of a CAP, and P&A programs have
the authority to provide legal representation as part of their advocacy
services. However, P&A programs are entitled to set priorities and make
judgments regarding which cases to pursue legally.

 

About VetBlogger

Veteran of the Persian Gulf war, husband 17 years, and father to 3 amazing children.

2 responses »

  1. This is a topic which is near to my heart… Take care!
    Exactly where are your contact details though?

    Reply
  2. I’m really inspired with your writing talents as well as with the structure on your weblog. Is that this a paid topic or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the excellent high quality writing, it is uncommon to peer a nice weblog like this one today..

    Reply

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