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COMPUTERS AND ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY: FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

"AnotheR BytE is a non-profit community service organization that recycles older computers from across America, providing low-cost computers, computer instruction, and technical services to under-privileged peoples who have no other means to afford such services on their own." They have a long list of sites in their "Directory of Computer Recyclers"; unfortunately there does not appear to be a affiliated computer recycling agency in Wisconsin. However, Independence First (Milwaukee) accepts tax-deductible donations of computers with basic Pentium processors for persons with disabilities who can't afford to purchase a computer.
Phone: 414-212-0002.

PEP: Resources for Parents, Educators & Publishers has an extensive list of computer recycling programs.

ABLEDATA, which is sponsored by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), publishes an "Informed Consumer's Guide to Funding Assistive Technology (July 1998)." The "Guide" includes advice on getting started, a list of state technology assistance projects, a list of state protection and advocacy agencies, and an excellent brief bibliography of print sources.

The National Federation of the Blind has a low-interest loan program for assistive computer technology.

Adaptivemall.com has a small set of carefully selected links to information about funding assistive technology.

Lighthouse International maintains a list of sources of "Grants-in-Aid for Adaptive Equipment."

Delaware Assistive Technology Initiative has a set of guides to funding adaptive technology; some of the information applies only to Delaware, but most is of more general application.

Empowerment Zone: among much else, has a set of links to sources of funding assistive technology.

"Financing Assistive Technology: A Handbook for Rehabilitation Professionals," written in 1992, is outdated in some respects but still has many valuable suggestions about sources of funding and approaches likely to be successful.

"Funding for Assistive Technology in Missouri" "is designed to help persons with disabilities, families, advocates, and providers identify sources of funding for assistive technology." Though it focuses on local Missouri programs and organizations, most of the governmental sources are found in every state, as are the charitable organizations. It's worth a look to see if your state has similar resources.

"Funding of Assistive Technology: The Public School's Special Education System as a Funding Source: The Cutting Edge"--this is a study by the Assistive Technology Funding and Systems Change Project of the United Cerebral Palsy Associations. It takes into account the most revisions to the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1998 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997.

Lewis Golinker, Esq., in "Funding for Assitive Technology Devices and Serivices in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1997," discusses the scope of the 1997 amendments and suggests a list of action steps for parents.

Also, Susan Goodman of the Assistive Technology Funding and Systems Change Project has written a fact sheet on "Assistive Technology and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act."

"Funding of Assistive Technology: State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies and Their Obligation to Maximize Employment," by Ronald M. Hager, Esq., contains "up-to-date information on funding assistive technology through the health system"; "this publication covers important topics of critical importance to individuals with disabilities who are entering the workforce including students transitioning from school, assistive technology for the college student, and the availability of assistive technology."

Lewis Golinker's article "Key Questions for Medicare Coverage & Funding for AAC Devices" covers some recent developments in funding. The Neighborhood Legal Services site also includes links to online versions of a series of booklets on the funding of adaptive technology.

Independence First has prepared "Under-Used Sources for Helping to Pay for Assistive Technology," a brief guide to using such sources as tax deductions and cost sharing to fund assistive technology."

Infinitec has an excellent set of resources for locating funding for adaptive technology from a variety of possible sources.

A joint program of the International Association of Hebrew Free Loans and the Jewish Braille Institute of American offers interest-free loans of up to $4,000 for worthy purposes, included adaptive computer systems.

The Job Accomodation Network describes a wide variety of funding possibilities for disabled people needing adaptive equipment at work. A long list of resources includes sources of funding for computers.

There is a chapter on how to fund adaptive technology in Joseph J. Lazzaro's "Adaptive Technologies for Learning and Work Environments" 2nd ed. (Chicago: American Library Association, 2001; ISBN 0838908047).

"Paying for the Assistive Technology You Need: A Consumer Guide to Funding Sources in Washington State" contains much that is valuable for people elsewhere. Besides a section on "Basic Funding Strategies," it includes health-related, employment-related and education-related sources of funding. It is downloadable in a variety of formats.

Social Security can support acquisition of assistive technology as an incentive for people seeking employment. Steve Mendelsohn of United Cerebral Palsy's Assistive Technology Funding and Systems Change Project has produced a series of three Fact Sheets on the subject.

James R. Sheldon and Ronald M. Hager of Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc., published "Funding Assistive Technology for Persons with Disabilities: The Availability of Assistive Technology Through Medicaid, Public School Special Education Programs and State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies" in 1997, but almost all of it is still relevant. They provide step-by-step procedures for parents and teachers.

Synapse Adaptive Technology has a list of governmental and foundation sources of funding for adaptive technology; the sources are mostly not direct providers of funding to individuals, but the links look useful.

There is also useful advice in "Using Mini-Grants to Fund Assistive Technology for Students with Severe Disabilities."

John Williams, author of a regular column on assistive technology for Business Week Online, has an excellent overview of funding for disabled students and employees (January 12, 2000), with links to many agencies and organizations.

Some banks offer personal loans for special needs, including adaptive computer equipment, with lower interest rates, lower minimum loan amounts and extended loan repayment periods. One is the Bank of America.


WISCONSIN FUNDING SOURCES

The Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative is a statewide project funded by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to help all school districts develop or improve their assistive technology services. WATI also works with Birth to 3 programs through a grant from the Wisconsin Birth to 3 Program. The site, aimed at teachers, has sections on best practices, materials, assessment forms, training, literacy and assistive technology and art.

Wisconsin Independent Living Centers are consumer-directed, non-profit organizations that provide an array of services, including: peer support, information and referral, independent living skills training, advocacy, community education, personal care and service coordination. Independent Living Centers also provide information and access to assistive technology as part of the WisTech Program.

A program called WisLoan "is open to Wisconsin residents of all ages who have a disability and who want to buy assistive technology. The program has no income requirements, and does not require individuals to exhaust personal or public funding. Under the program, participating private banks provide low-interest loans up to $30,000 for qualified borrowers. Actual loan amounts depend on the item purchased and the ability to repay the loan." For an application, contact one of the eight local Independent Living Centers.

People with disabilities, their families, service providers and other members of the community can access WisTech for information on selecting, funding, installing and using assistive technology. Independent Living Centers provide assessments of individual needs, and maintain a loan closet of assistive technology items that people can try out for themselves. Most WisTech services are provided free of charge. Independence First, an independent living center in Milwaukee, will provide program information and statewide coordination. Independent Living Centers throughout the state will provide technical assistance, applications and assistive technology.

The Wisconsin Council of the Blind offers low interest loans for adaptive equipment and has recently started a program especially for parents of visually handicapped children under the age of 18. Their loan program has recently been extended to legally blind adults.

Independence First (Milwaukee) accepts tax-deductible donations of computers with basic Pentium processors for persons with disabilities who can't afford to purchase a computer.
Phone: 414-212-0002.

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