What We Learned
People who are considered low-income may get financial assistance to purchase an augmentative communication device (ACD) from a special Texas program. It is the Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program (STAP) program at Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS). Find it at http://www.dars.state.tx.us/dhhs/stap.shtml When recommending an ACD, size matters as does the age and activities of the end user.
Assistive technology (AT),as was first published in the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 (The Tech Act), is any item, piece of equipment, or system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is commonly used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. Assistive technology (AT) is sometimes used generically and can include assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities and includes the process used in selecting, locating, and using them.
We learned that there are two types of assistive technology, assistive technology products and assistive technology service. Examples of AT products include wheelchairs, computers, ramps and communication devices. Examples of AT service include interpreters and service dogs. We also learned that some AT products and services can receive favorable tax treatment. See “Tax Options and Strategies for People with Disabilities.” by Steve Mendelsohn for more information.
We learned we can go to http://www.usatechguide.org/ to see evaluations of assistive technology products as well as place our own evaluations.
Assistive Technology Conferences
- CSUN, California State University at Northridge every Spring: http://www.csun.edu/
- Closing the Gap, Minneapolis, MN every Fall: http://www.closingthegap.com
- South by SouthWest, in Austin, TX every Spring: http://sxsw.com/
- SXSW is particularly interesting because of new off-the-shelf products that are accessible, not because it may be required by law but rather, because it was a good design idea.
- USA TechGuide: http://www.usatechguide.org/
- Texas Hearing and Service Dogs: http://servicedogs.org
- Apple Mac Special Needs: http://www.apple.com/education/specialeducation/?
- Trace has been a pioneer in the field of technology and disability: http://trace.wisc.edu/