Applying for funding for assistive technology

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Applying for funding for assistive technology involves gathering the necessary information, determining and documenting the need, evaluating the assistive technology, finding and contacting the appropriate source of funding.

Before considering applying for funding for assistive technology, consider what the person wants and needs to do independently. 

The needs identified will vary with the individual's age, geographic and financial circumstances, vocational goals, and personal desires. 

Start by developing a list of activities, and then indicate what assistive technology might be useful in performing these tasks. 

Under each of these general areas there may be several specific functional tasks that could be made easier or do-able with assistive technology.

While researching the types of devices on the market or under development, collect price information. together with a list of manufacturers and distributors.

You may need the help of a professional or assistance from a cross-disciplinary team of professionals who can assess the needs, suggest an appropriate device, and clearly describe (in writing) how that device would be effective.

Once it is determined that assistive technology can help, one must clearly document the need for the assistive technology. Each agency and funding source has its own documentation process. When the funding source is public or private insurance, either the expected beneficiary, a physician, or a therapist must submit a statement indicating the medical necessity of the assistive technology. When applying for funding for assistive technology, the applicant must demonstrate that the assistive technology will assist in preparing for, getting, or keeping a job.

If obtaining work is not an expected outcome, then the justification must indicate that the device will enhance the individual's ability to function independently. Local schools will often pay for devices and auxiliary aids used in the classroom. Families requesting that the school pay for assistive technology should be prepared to demonstrate how the device will enhance the child's ability to obtain an appropriate education in the least restrictive environment.The ability to secure funding is often dependent on the applicant's addressing each agency's requirements in the funding request.

Every funding request requires:
Primary Disability
Time of Onset
Cause of Onset
Secondary Disability(ies)
Employment History (including length of employment and reason for leaving)
Names, Ages and Relationship of Dependents
Family Income (Amount before taxes)

Monthly Expenses Health Insurance

Professionals assisting their clients to obtain assistive technology need to know how to write effective justifications. Health insurance agencies will review these justifications to determine funding. When filing a claim, you must show that the device is medically necessary and will restore your client to his/her best functional level. Do not label the device as an education or convenience device (Medicaid and Medicare won't care about this reason).

In medical areas, stress the therapeutic nature and "medical necessity" of the equipment. In educational settings, the technology needs to help a child with a disability achieve academic and educational goals. In vocational situations, the goal and potential for self-sufficiency are crucial elements.Include a brief description and price for all devices the client was tested for and state why the particular device was chosen.

This should include:
Physician's prescription
Letter of medical necessity from the physician
Letters of medical necessity from professionals involved in the case
Medical diagnosis to substantiate specific medical information and need
Discussion of the assistive technology as they pertain to the individual
Explanation of the individual's functional skills without the equipment
Specifications of the equipment

In the "under 21" group, documentation can be found in the IFSP for the birth to preschool population or in the IEP for the school age child.

If the assistive technology is for an educational need and the student is part of the special education program (age 3 - 21), federal law requires that the school system meet that need. If a student needs computer access to complete written work and is required to complete written homework, then the device needs to be available to that student at home in order to finish required academic tasks. In other cases, the child may only need the assistive technology occasionally, so it can be shared with others.

For the adult population, documentation will vary according to the needs area as well as the specific requirements of the funding source. It may also be possible to fund a device or service through a combination of funding sources.Whenever possible, hand in your documentation and application package in person and have an agency or insurance company employee check your submission to make sure you have covered everything.

Evaluation of assistive technology

A good evaluation should analyze the device and how it can benefit the recipient. Look for an occupational therapist or speech pathologist who is qualified and experienced with assistive technology. You can find these experts by asking your doctor or hospital, professional society, support groups, or non-profit disability organization.An evaluation and diagnosis may be the most important part of the process.

When writing an evaluation, one should show the background and history of the client, the current status of the client, and recommendation to improve the client's condition. In addition, a funding justification should go with the evaluation, and it should specify the need for assistance, prove that the client can use the device, and specify why the technology is the only real solution for the client.

Request a trial period of about two weeks, where the device is used in diverse environments. Technology resource centers may loan equipment and some equipment suppliers or manufacturers also make "try-before-you-buy" equipment loans. If you can borrow the device for a trial at home, school, or work, you can determine its effectiveness. Get adequate experience and training on the assistive technology before and after the purchase. Document functioning with and without the recommended device, showing how it makes a difference to provide "evidence" when seeking funding. Determine and clearly document the individual's specific need and how the assistive technology will exactly fit that need.

Gather information about the assistive technology device or service. For instance, will another device meet the need in a more cost efficient fashion? Can the assistive technology be borrowed, rented, or fabricated, or must it be purchased. Frequently, the funding source will claim the right to consider alternative ways in which to meet the need. The more clearly you have documented the need and your consideration of alternatives, the easier it is to identify the best device in any given situation and get that device in a timely manner.

Identify Funding Sources

Identify possible funding sources and eligibility guidelines. The first step in this process is to determine the nature of the need, or the setting in which the device or service is needed. Is the device intended to meet a need in terms of care or home management or is it educational, vocational, or medical in nature? Once the primary functional setting is established, the possible funding sources for that type of need can be reviewed and prioritized. Then it can be determined whether a particular client meets the eligibility guidelines for that particular program.

Follow up

Document contact names and call regularly to check on the processing of your application for funding. Write down the date, the name(s) of the person with whom you spoke, and what was discussed. Keep copies of all correspondence. Build a good rapport with the funding source. Be polite, business like, and persistent.

Appeals Process

If an appeal becomes necessary, your written records are important. Ask the agency or insurance company for the reason for denial in writing. If the denial was based on a mistake, misunderstanding, or lack of information, fix the problem and resubmit your application. If you are still denied funding, determine what you must do to appeal the denial and stick with the process.Find an outside advocate, particularly if you are new to the funding game.

Many assistive technology vendors employ funding advocates. Disability groups, advocacy groups, parent support groups, other people with disabilities or their family members, teachers, and therapists can help you with your best course of action. If you are dealing with a government agency, you may contact your legislators and ask them to Reach the funding agency on your behalf.If you feel a funding source is not giving you a fair hearing and that your rights are being violated, obtain legal counsel.Resources: Family Center's Guide to Assistive Technology - http://www.fctd.info

Sources of Assistive Technology Funding in Connecticut

The Connecticut Tech Act Project provides information and advocacy services to you regarding assistive technology. The goal is to make sure that Connecticut's residents (all ages) with disabilities have access to assistive technology. The project is funded by a grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).

The Tech Act provides information about what technology is available, who makes the technology, how much it costs, and what funding sources exist that can help in paying for the equipment. The Assistive Technology Loan Program is funded in part by People's Bank, the State of Connecticut, and NIDRR. The loans are offered to consumers and their families who meet eligibility requirements. Based on a sliding scale, they offer very low interest rates and long-term repayment schedules.

Information about and applications for loans may be obtained by contacting the Peer Technology Counselor at the nearest Independent Living Center or by calling (860) 298-2024 or (800) 537-2539 (TDD).

The Assistive Technology Loan Program, Connecticut Assistive Technology, 25 Sigourney Street, 11th Floor, Hartford, CT 06106 860.424.4881, 860.424.4839 TTY, http://www.techactproject.com

ARC/Connecticut is a private, non-profit organization which advocates for full participation of people with mental retardation in all aspects of community life. Services include residential services, vocational services, education, advocacy, and appropriate referral. ARC/Connecticut, 1030 New Britain Avenue, Suite 102-B, West Hartford, CT 06110. Telephone: (860) 953-8335 (Voice/TTY). http://www.arcct.com

Brain Injury Association Of Connecticut (BIAC) is a private, nonprofit agency helping people in Connecticut who have a brain injury and their families through case consultation, referral and advocacy services, educational prevention programs, in-service programs, recreational social opportunities, and 15 statewide support groups. 1800 Silas Deane Highway, Suite 224, Rocky Hill, CT 06067. Telephone: (860) 721-8111. Family Help Line: 1-800-278-TBIA (8242). http://www.biact.org

Center For Excellence In Disabilities (formerly University Affiliated Programs) assists people of all ages with disabilities to access the support and services they need to live independently. The Center is a part of a federal system established in 1963 to address the needs of persons with disabilities through a coordinated program of interdisciplinary training, dissemination, outreach services, and applied research. University of Connecticut - 263 Farmington Avenue, MC6222, Farmington, CT 06030. Telephone: (860) 679-1500 (Voice); (860) 679-1502 (TTY).

Connecticut Association For Children With Learning Disabilities (CACLD) is a nonprofit membership organization that offers information, referrals, advocacy and individual consultations. CACLD maintains a research library and bookstore; produces a newsletter, and conducts conferences, workshops and support groups to families, professionals, and adults with learning disabilities and/or attention deficit disorder. (203) 838-5010 or write to CACLD, 25 Van Zant Street, Suite 15-5, East Norwalk, CT 06855-1729, http://www.cacld.org

Connecticut Association Of The Deaf (CAD) is an association of concerned citizens who promote the best interests of people who are deaf or hard of hearing in CT. Connecticut Association of the Deaf, P.O. Box 207589, West Hartford, CT 06127-0589, http://www.nad.org
Connecticut Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT), P.O. Box 370352, West Hartford, CT 06137-0382, http://www.ctfeat.org

Connecticut Family Voices, http://www.familyvoices.org for local contacts

Connecticut Parent Advocacy Center, Inc. (CPAC), is a statewide nonprofit organization established to inform parents of children with all disabilities about special education rights and procedures, and to provide information and referral services for any problems related to the education and welfare of their children. Services include workshops for parents, in-service training for professionals, a newsletter, resource collection and individuals assistance. The Center is located at 338 Main Street, Niantic, CT 06357. Telephone: (860) 739-3089 (Voice/TTY) or 1-800-445-2722 (toll-free, Voice/TTY). http://www.cpacinc.org

Easter Seals of Connecticut, 85 Jones Street, P.O. Box 100, Hebron, CT 06248, (860) 228-9438 or 800-874-7687, http://www.ct.easterseals.com

Easter Seals Greater Hartford Rehabilitation Center, 100 Deerfield Road, Windsor, CT 06095, (860) 714-9500, http://www.eastersealshartford.org

Epilepsy Foundation Of Connecticut is a statewide non-profit organization that provides information and referrals, education programs, summer camp for children with epilepsy, support services, and advocacy. 386 Main Street, Middletown, CT 06457. Telephone: (860) 346-1924 (Voice/TTY) or 1 (800) 899-3745 (Voice/TTY)

Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) Of Connecticut is a non-profit organization of parents, professionals, and persons with learning disabilities. We are dedicated to promoting a better understanding of learning disabilities, securing appropriate educational and employment opportunities for children and adults with learning disabilities and improving the quality of life for this population. 999 Asylum Avenue, Hartford, CT 06105. Telephone: (860) 882-0236 http://www.ldact.org

Mental Health Association of Connecticut, 20-30 Beaver Road - Suite 108, Wethersfield, CT 06109, (860) 529-1970 or 1-800-842-1501, http://www.mhact.org

Muscular Dystrophy Association of Connecticut, 78 Eastern Boulevard, Glastonbury, CT 06033, (860) 633-4466 http://www.mdausa.org

National Federation of the Blind, 580 Burnside Avenue, Suite 1, East Hartford, CT 06108, (860) 289-1971, http://www.nfb.org

National Organization for Rare Disorders, 55 Kenosia Avenue, Danbury, CT 06813, (203) 744-0100 or 800-999-6673, http://www.rarediseases.org

New England Assistive Technology Marketplace (NEAT) is a demonstration center and an equipment restoration center all in one. It is a place to learn about products and equipment that assists people with day to day activities they have trouble doing themselves, either because of disability or age. It is also a place to donate equipment or to buy. 120 Holcomb Street, Hartford, CT 06112. Telephone: (860) 243-2869 or Toll free (866) 526-4492. http://www.neatmarketplace.org

Padres Abriendo Puertas (PAP) is a grass roots organization that provides assistance, support and training to Latino children and their family members in the area of special education. 60B Weston Street, Hartford, CT 06120, (860) 297-4391 (Voice) or (860) 297-4380 (TTY) Parents Available to Help (PATH), P.O. Box 611, Trumbull, CT 06611, 800-399-7284, http://www.birth23.org

People First Of Connecticut is a non-profit, self-advocacy organization consisting of individuals with disabilities. Local chapters regularly meet around the state. WeCAHR at (203) 792-3540P&A's Non-Profit Disability Resource Center supports the organizational development and fund-raising needs of community-based disability organizations. The Center includes research grant announcement services, an extensive collection of foundation directories and files on more than 200 foundations and corporations. State Office of Protection and Advocacy (860) 297-4323, (860) 297-4380 (TTY)

Save The Kid Fund (STK) is a charity dedicated to improve the lives of children by providing them with opportunities they may not otherwise receive or by providing financial support for medical treatments, medications or handicap aids. STK is incorporated in Connecticut as a non-profit charity and is registered with the IRS as a 501.c.3 non-profit. http://savethekid.com

Spina Bifida Association http://www.spinabifidaassociation.org/

State of Connecticut, Office of Protection and Advocacy For Persons with Disabilities http://www.das.state.ct.us

WeCAHR, INC. is a private, non-profit, advocacy organization that promotes the rights of people with disabilities. Its goals are to reach out to the public and promote the understanding of human similarities. WeCAHR is located at 211 Main Street, Danbury, CT 06810. Telephone: (203) 792-3540 (Voice/TTY), http://www.wecahr.org

Tourette Syndrome Association of Connecticut, http://www.tsact.org

United Cerebral Palsy Association, 80 Whitney Street, Hartford, CT 06105, (860) 236-6201, http://www.ucpa.org

Yale Child Study Center - Disabilities Clinic, 230 South Frontage Road, New Haven, CT 06520, (203) 737-4197, http://childstudycenter.yale.edu/

More Resources

AbilityHub helps users find information on adaptive equipment and alternative methods available for accessing computers. This site offers resources in the following areas: Augmentative Communication, Blind & Visually Impaired, Cognitive Disabilities, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Electronic Aids to Daily Living, Learning Disabilities, Mouse Alternatives, Keyboard Alternatives, Switch Access, Text -To- Speech, and Speech Recognition. http://www.abilityhub.com/

Academy for Educational Development ,1825 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20009, Phone: (202) 884-8068 Fax: (202) 884-8441, http://www.fctd.info

ADA Technical Assistance Agency, http://www.adata.org

Alliance for Technology Access (ATA) is a network of community-based resource centers, developers, vendors and associates dedicated to providing information and support services to children and adults with disabilities, and increasing their use of standard, assistive, and information technologies. Alliance for Technology Access, 2175 E. Francisco Boulevard, San Rafael, CA 94901, 415-455-4575, http://www.ataccess.org/

American Council on Education, One Dupont Circle NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036-1193, 800-544-3284 (for people with disabilities pursuing post-secondary education)Assistive Tech Net provides information on assistive technologies, adaptive environments and community resources for people with disabilities, including their families and service providers. http://www.assistivetech.net/

Computer Assisted Technology Services (CATS) Program. 70 East Lake Street, Chicago, IL 60601-5907. 312/726-6200. The CATS program provides information on how people with disabilities can obtain loans, and offers low-interest loans to qualified applicants. Easter Seals can also provide information about getting computers and related equipment at a discount. http://www.easterseals.com/

Center on Technology and Learning Disabilities (CTLD) is a program that assesses and trains individuals for their assistive technology needs, trains professionals to use the technology, and conducts research to evaluate assistive technologies and their benefits to persons with learning disabilities. CTLD, The Frostig Center, 971 N. Altadena Drive, Pasadena, CA 91107. Telephone 818-791-1255.

Challenged America is a website through which disadvantaged, physically challenged children (or their parents) submit requests for medical attention, rehabilitative therapy and assistive devices. http://www.challengedamerica.com/

Closing the Gap is a disabilities information center that produces a quarterly newsletter on disabilities technology and hosts a yearly hands-on assistive computer technology conference. Closing the Gap, Box 68, Henderson, MN 56044, 507-248-3294, http://www.closingthegap.com

Disabled Children's Relief Fund (DCRF) is a non-profit organization that provides disabled or special needs children with assistance in obtaining wheelchairs, orthopedic braces, walkers, hearing aids and eyeglasses, assistive technology, physical therapy, and surgery. The DCRF grants modest awards for assistive devices, rehabilitative services, arts and humanities projects, or for efforts to bolster compliance with existing laws for the benefit of children with disabilities. Families (parent or guardian) may submit applications for an individual child and non-profit organizations may apply on behalf of a small group of children. Disabled Children's Relief Fund P.O. Box 7420 Freeport, New York 11520, 516/377-1605, http://www.dcrf.com/

The Family Center is a resource designed to support organizations and programs that work with families of children and youth with disabilities, offering a range of information and services on the subject of assistive technologies. http://www.fctd.info/

Freebytes - Free used and recycled computers, mostly for schools, non-profit organisations and disadvantaged individuals. Also: used computer hardware, donating computer-hardware, educational discounts for computer systems, computers for prisons, free PC's, computers for the classroom, computers for the disabled, computer recycling, etc. http://www.freebyte.com/free_computers/

Hear Now disseminates donated, reconditioned hearing aids or cochlear implants to low-income people with hearing impairments, through their National Hearing Aid Bank, 4001 South Magnolia Way, Denver, CO 80237. 800/648- HEAR; 303/758-4919 (Both are voice/Text Telephone) http://www.sotheworldmayhear.org

Infinitec advances independence and promote inclusive opportunities for children and adults with disabilities through technology. http://www.infinitec.org

Job Accommodation Network (JAN), established in 1983 by the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, is an information and consulting service which provides accommodation solutions to educators, employers, and individuals with disabilities. JAN/West Virginia University, 918 Chestnut Ridge Road, P.O. Box 6080, Morgantown, WV 26506. Telephone 1-800-526-7234, http://www.askjan.org

National Adult Literacy and Learning Disabilities Center is an information center which provides, through its State Resource Lists, the Assistive Technology Office contact for each state.National Assistive Technology Advocacy Project supports the network of Protection and Advocacy (P&A) and Client Assistance Program attorneys and advocates who are working on assistive technology advocacy issues. They will also provide support services to Legal Services and Legal Aid programs on assistive technology-related issues. http://www.nls.org/Disability

National Council on Disability (NCD) promotes policies, programs, practices, and procedures that guarantee equal opportunity for all individuals with disabilities, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability; and to empower individuals with disabilities to achieve economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and inclusion and integration into all aspects of society., http://www.ncd.gov

National Early Childhood TA Center (NECTAC) Clearinghouse on Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education: http://www.nectac.org

National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY). . NICHCY can refer interested parents to Parent Training Information Projects (PTIPs) and Parent-to-Parent support groups in their state. There is at least one PTIP in every state. While they do not provide funding, PTIPs and Parent-to-Parent groups can link parents seeking funding information with each other and, in some cases can provide information on the legal rights pertaining to Individualized Education Plans, as well as parents’ potential role in securing funding for assistive technology. P.O. Box 1492, Washington, DC 20013. 800/999-5599; 703/893-6061; Text Telephone: 703/893-8614, http://www.nichcy.org/

National Library Services for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress is a leading source of taped leisure-reading books and magazines. 1291 Taylor Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20542. Telephone 1-800-424-8567. National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC) NARIC maintains an extensive collection of printed material pertaining to the procurement and utilization of assistive technology. NARIC, 1010 Wayne Ave., Suite 800 Silver Spring, MD 20910, 800/346-2742 TTY: 301/495-5626, http://www.naric.com

New England ADA & Accessible IT Center is one of ten regional disability and business technical assistance centers funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) and facilitates voluntary and effective compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The Center is a project of Adaptive Environments, Inc., a nonprofit organization. New England ADA and Accessible IT Center, Adaptive Environments Center, Inc., 374 Congress Street, Suite 301, Boston, MA 02210 617.695.0085 1.800.949.4232 http://adaptiveenvironments.org and http://www.adata.org

Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, Inc. (RFB&D) is a leading source of tape-recorded textbooks and electronic books. RFB&D, 20 Roszel Road, Princeton, NJ 08540. Telephone 1-800-221-4792, http://www.rfbd.org/

RehabTool helps children and adults with disabilities enhance their lives, increase their independence and productivity, and gain greater social inclusion through the use of assistive technology, http://www.rehabtool.com

RESNA is a technical assistance project to provide support to the states funded under the Tech Act in developing programs of technology-related services for individuals with disabilities. RESNA promotes research, development, education, advocacy and provision of technology; and provides support to the people engaged in these activities. RESNA, 1700 N. Moore Street, Suite 1540, Arlington, VA 22209, 703-524-6686, http://www.resna.org

Starlight Children's Foundation grants wishes and provides state-of-the-art audiovisual entertainment to seriously, chronically and terminally ill children, aged 4 through 18 years. http://www.starlight.org/

Tech Connections is an information project to assist Vocational Rehabilitation agency staff and others on applications of assistive technology. The primary target audiences are vocational rehabilitation programs and agencies, rehabilitation training programs, schools, community rehabilitation programs and others that are interested in using technology resources and services. http://www.techconnections.org

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