State AT Programs: Helping People Get Assistive Technology

Florida - FAAST

Success of the FAAST Alternative Financing Program: Mrs. E.B. lived in a nursing home where she received diabetes care. Her condition resulted in a leg amputation and heart failure. Her family wanted her to return to her home where they could give her more personal care. With a guaranteed loan from FAAST, the family received $7,000 at favorable interest rates to install a ceiling lift that allows family members and home health aides to safely transfer Mrs. E.B. from her bed to her wheelchair. Now, Mrs. E.B. can remain at home with her family, maximizing her independence and dignity, and reducing the cost of Medicaid support.

Mrs. C.T., a recently naturalized U.S. citizen who emigrated from Haiti, is legally blind. She couldn’t independently enjoy a favorite pastime: reading. An Alternative Finance Loan for $3,000 allowed Mrs. C.T. to purchase a computer, audio software, and scanning equipment. These products allow her to read books and newspapers, communicate with family members, and pursue graduate level education.

Mr. J.R. is a career Air Force serviceman. He and his wife have a daughter who is blind with mental and mobility impairments and uses a wheelchair. Mrs. J.R., who provides the complete care her adolescent daughter requires, had no way of getting that chair in and out of the family vehicle. A FAAST loan for of $3,500 made it possible for the J.R. family to make vehicle modifications to a van, allowing the family a safe way to transport their daughter and her wheelchair.

In over 100 cases since 2002, individuals and families who received FAAST financing had been rejected by banks and lived without these much needed services. FAAST is able to work with banks to provide loan guarantees that are supported by government grants from the Federal Department of Education, which are leveraged by smaller commitments ($6 to $1 average ratio) from the Florida state legislature. FAAST loans provide consumers with disabilities access to credit with low interest rates, lenient qualifications, and flexible terms.

Iowa Program for Assistive Technology (IPAT)

IPAT has a 14 year relationship with the Iowa Department of Education and the Area Education Agencies (AEA) AT Team. Last year, through a collaborative effort, regular education classroom teachers from each AEA were provided training and technical assistance in how to use text reader software with study skills for not only students with IEPs, but for all students in their classroom. One AEA AT Team member reports getting a call one evening from a parent of a middle school student in the program that had learning disabilities. She told the AT Team member that for the first time ever, the family was playing games in the evening instead of fighting with their child about homework. The student was able to understand and complete homework assignments in a reasonable amount of time each evening. Another parent called to thank an AEA AT Team member because her child was upstairs laughing while he read a book. This was amazing first because the child was actually choosing to read a book "willingly" and even more amazing because the child understood the book well enough to get the jokes or humor.

Access to information, training and equipment is critical to making the right choices and actually using assistive technology. Between 2003 & 2004, IPAT provided 1,464 device loans, responded to over 1,000 information requests per month and held over 190 training events to provided skill development training to over 3,200 consumers and service providers.

Louisiana - Assistive Technology Access Network (LATAN)

Chance G., a six-year old with autism, was unable to communicate with those around him. He was also unable to read, or so everyone thought, but liked watching others work on computers. His family could not afford to purchase a new computer for him. His mom heard about LATAN’s Computer ReBoot Program, and because of a foundation grant LATAN received that paid for half of the cost of a recycled computer, Chance received a computer delivered to his home. Chance was intrigued with the computer, and by the end of the first afternoon, Chance said his first and last name for the very first time. The evaluation returned by Chance’s parents indicated that the computer has increased Chance’s alphabet recognition, number adding and language skills. His family believes that is because he received a computer from LATAN’s ReBoot program. His lab teacher is again letting him use a computer at school because she has recognized that his previous misuse of the mouse was due to his being left-handed not his disability. Chance is non-verbal and through his use of a computer to communicate, his homeroom teacher is now able to recognize his intelligence.

LATAN publishes a quarterly newsletter which reaches over 6,000 individuals, and provides a 96-page website to over 10,000 per year seeking assistive technology information, programs and funding options. Over 1600 individuals receive technical assistance and individualized information each year. Nearly 4000 individuals are reached through presentations, exhibits, demonstrations and dissemination of materials. LATAN works with numerous agencies and organizations to further increase access to assistive technology in Louisiana.

Missouri Assistive Technology (MoAT)

Almost two years ago, Kayla complained of a severe migraine and starry vision to the school nurse. Her father came and took her to the hospital where it was discovered that an optic nerve tumor was bleeding, swelling and putting pressure on her brain. Kyla underwent surgery knowing there could be serious complications. After surgery, Kyla retained her memory, her personality and her life, however she did lose her vision. Kyla quickly adapted and learned the skills she needed to complete high school. She continues to learn additional skills that will allow her to pursue life-long interest in writing and working with children. Skills she has acquired include the use of a computer with JAWS, a screen reader program, which Kyla received through the MO TAP for Internet.

Between 2003 and 2004 the MO TAP for Internet Program provided 1168 adaptive computer devices representing over 160 different individual items. A majority of applicants (73%) received assistance with selecting their equipment and (46%) received training on their equipment. Missouri is the only state in the nation whose telecommunications equipment distribution program, which is administered by MoAT, includes adaptive devices for internet access. Consumers range in age from 2-90 and include a wide array of disabilities.

North Carolina Assistive Technology Program (NCATP)

A North Carolina employee with hearing loss was having difficulty on the job. He works packing boxes in an area with forklift travel and could not hear the forklift signal. The North Carolina Assistive Technology Program (NCATP) was contacted by his employer to help identify workplace accommodations. The NCATP Assistive Technology Specialist worked with the individual and a private rehab engineer to identify solutions. NCATP offers technical consultation, demonstration, tryout and short-term loan of equipment for people with disabilities. An Alert Master personal pager was recommended for this individual. This system has a receiver box and a personal pager that vibrates when sound is received for a given duration. The NCATP Specialist called the company to request they change the duration of the forklift warning signal to five seconds so the receiver could pick up the signal. When the forklift is in the employee’s work area, the alert master receiver box picks up the signal and a personal pager he wears vibrates. Motion sensors and mirrors were also installed in the work area so that the employee could be alerted to foot traffic around him. With assistance from the North Carolina Assistive Technology Program this gentleman is now able to do his job safely.

In program year 2003-04, the North Carolina Assistive Technology Program provided technical consultations to 7,770 individuals including demonstration of equipment to help individuals select appropriate devices. 2,757 equipment loans for short term tryout were made that year and 1,321 people received assistive technology funding resource information and consultation.

North Dakota Interagency Program for Assistive Technology (IPAT)

"The Senior Assistive Technology Safety Program (SATS) program helps provide safety equipment not paid for by Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance. It really makes a difference for people leaving the hospital to return to their home safely"…. HCBS worker- Cass County, ND

From June 2003-May 2004, IPAT served 1,344 seniors through the SATS program eliminating or delaying institutionalization for those state seniors 60 years or older.

"I am in 5th grade at Baldwin School. I have a learning disability in written language, which makes reading and spelling very hard. IPAT helped figure out what assistive technology might help me. I got my AlphaSmart and Franklin Language Master in December. I use them every day to do assignments and reports. I am able to complete some of my assignments by myself and don’t always need someone to writer for me. Thank you IPAT Program"…Elementary school student- Baldwin, ND

From June 2003-May 2004, the IPAT Technology Access Center (TAC) provided 50 AT assessments, 7 AT trainings, 18 demonstrations and 16 teleconferences benefiting over two hundred North Dakota consumers and service providers.

Oklahoma ABLE Tech

Ben is disabled by diabetes, crushed knees, ankles, and right leg amputation as a result of deterioration. To assist with his mobility, he uses a wheelchair. Ben requested assistance from a regional center of OK ABLE Tech, which provided information, equipment demonstration and equipment loan services. With the assistance of OK ABLE Tech, Ben was able to obtain funding from Medicare and Medicaid to purchase the wheelchair and access funding from the Choctaw Nation for a prosthetic device and walker, as well as funding for housing and transportation. OK ABLE Tech helped Ben become aware of AT options (devices and services) and how to get what he needed.

Oklahoma has the highest Native American population in the nation with more than 252,000 tribal members. The rate of disability among Native Americans is approximately 22.6%. In 2003, OK ABLE Tech provided equipment demonstrations to 125 individuals, equipment loans to 185 individuals, and direct information and referral to 3,364 individuals.

Pennsylvania's Initiative on Assistive Technology (PIAT)

Shaun is a middle school student with significant disabilities, and uses assistive technology for communication, mobility, reading, and writing. Shaun’s mom Colleen has utilized PIAT for information and referral (including referral to resources for independent augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) assessment and implementation services) as well as hours of technical assistance (review of the IEP to make sure goals reflect the integration of AT with his educational objectives, and advice on strategies to use with the IEP team in promoting AT use). When Shaun’s AAC device was "down" he borrowed one from Pennsylvania’s Assistive Technology Lending Library. When technological advancements and Shaun’s own progress indicated a new device might be appropriate, Shaun borrowed one to see if it was, indeed, more appropriate in meeting his educational needs. PIAT provided additional assistance as Colleen worked with the school on funding for the new device.

Colleen wrote, "The knowledge that I have gained from you and your organization has helped me to more clearly articulate what we want for Shaun, and to work more collaboratively with other team members. This year Shaun is taking classes in TV/Media, which is his passion, but this would never have happened if we were not able to work toward having him successfully included utilizing assistive technology supports and services."

In program year 2003-04, Pennsylvania’s Initiative on Assistive Technology provided more than 10,000 consumers and family members, service providers, faculty, and others with presentations, device demonstrations, training events, and awareness level activities related to the scope and potential of assistive technology for persons with disabilities and older Pennsylvanians. In SFY 2004, there were more than 5500 devices shipped from Pennsylvania’s Assistive Technology Lending Library (a program run by PIAT with state support in addition to some federal support) in response to almost 4000 individual requests for devices to "try before your buy" (including to more than 1100 first-time borrowers). In addition, almost $200, 000 worth of "previously owned" equipment was either sold or donated to individuals with disabilities.

South Carolina Assistive Technology Program (SCATP)

Kirk Garrett Junior’s cerebral palsy hasn’t kept him from excelling in high school and college courses with honors, earning an online college certificate in computer technology, and working as a computer technician. Kirk’s father Kirk Garrett, Senior, realized early that "He can’t pick up a pencil or pen and write, so the computer and keyboard became his pencil and paper." They connected with SCATP early in his school years and have been able to find the best solutions using a full range of assistive technology. "There is no way to measure what the SCATP has done for us," says Kirk Sr. "Every year we learn about new possibilities when we attend the SC AT Expo. One year Kirk Jr. brought his employer to the Expo to give him an in-depth view of how people with disabilities can work in various settings. The SCATP AT Online Network has saved us time in researching new technology." Kirk Jr. sums up his feelings about the impact of his association with SCATP. "I don’t know what I would have done without SCATP. Their network of consumers and professionals have helped me trouble shoot when I had technology challenges. Their encouragement and connection have provided me with professional opportunities to advocate for people with disabilities who want the chance to prove themselves and their abilities. I have grown up with SCATP and in the future, hope to be a resource to many others through SCATP."

In program year 2003-04, the South Carolina Assistive Technology Program provided training and technical consultations to 4004 individuals including demonstration of equipment to help individuals select appropriate devices. In the program year 2003-04 equipment loans of 236 devices for short-term tryout were made to 114 persons. Half of the 750 people who attended the 2005 SC Assistive Technology Expo were provided training, demonstration and services for the first time. The SCATP AT listserv provides networking, information and technical assistance to over 1040 individuals on a daily basis.


A high school student wanted to attend the New England Culinary Institute’s (NECI) 2-year degree program. Because of his learning disabilities, he was barely functionally literate and had very poor handwriting and keyboarding. We had the student and his team try out a number of software programs and technology tools. Through VR he received a laptop, a scanning/reading software program, a scanner, and a voice dictation program. Because NECI does not provide solid support for this type of technology, we made sure the student had the training to be able to use it. With these tools, he successfully graduated from NECI’s difficult 2-year degree program. He continues to use these tools on the job as a chef. He uses the scanning software to scan the recipes and work-related materials into his laptop, and then takes it with him to work.

In program year 2003-04, the Vermont Assistive Technology Project provided services to over 2,700 consumers,family members,educators and other service providers. Services included technical assistance,awareness activities and training; demonstration, try-out and loan of AT equipment. Additonally, with funds leveraged at the state level, VATP has provided over 400 hours of direct service to students with severe and multiple disabilities since mid October 2004. This is in addition to conducting workshops for educators about how students with disabilities can access alternative means of reading, writing and communicating and particpate in a meaningful way in the classroom.