Paying For Assistive Technology

Assistive technology for the visually impaired usually does not come cheap. As you probably know, the IDEA requires school to provide students with a Free and Appropriate Education, but getting districts to provide the up-to-date technology that visually impaired students need to be most successful can sometimes be challenging or even impossible. This page is intended to introduce some alternative sources of funding for assistive technologies for students who are visually impaired.

The most well known national source of assistive technology funding for the blind is The Association of Blind Citizens Assistive Technology Fund. The Assistive Technology Fund (ATF) will provide funds to cover 50% of the retail price of adaptive devices or software. The application instructions can be found at their website:

http://www.blindcitizens.org/assistive_tech.htm

Another national source of funding is provided by The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) & Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU). Members of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) can join the Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) to take advantage of access loans to assist someone with a disability. Borrow from $1,500 to $25,000 or more for up to 72 months with no down payment required. The borrower need not be the beneficiary of the purchase. Qualified purchases include, but are not limited to: assistive technology, durable medical equipment, housing modifications, and rehabilitative equipment. For more information see

http://www.dcu.org

One last national program that might provide some funding is the AT&T Foundation, which supports initiatives that help students (especially nontraditional and underserved students) successfully complete high school and/or prepare for and gain access to college and successfully complete college. More information is available at

http://www.att.com/gen/corporate-citizenship?pid=7742

There are also lots of helpful programs at the state level. Some local program include:

Assistive Technology Loan Fund Authority For Maryland residents, which provides product purchase assistance under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998. For more information please visit:

http://www.mdtap.org

Assistive Technology Loan Fund Authority For Virginia residents, which provides loans for Braille equipment, and low vision aids. For more information please visit:

http://www.atlfa.org

It was harder to find funding sources in the District, but there is at least one organization that provides assistance and services to the blind. It is the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind. It provides services for children and adults including: employment services, low-vision care, rehabilitation services and special children’s education programs. Their website describes their programs in detail:

http://www.clb.org/lowvision/index.html

I also read that funding may be available through government services like Medicare and Medicaid or from local nonprofits like Rotary or Lyons Clubs, but I did not find any specifics about these programs.

Added by Jennifer Kirmes