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Connecting Oklahomans with Disabilities to Assistive Technology

Section II: Funding Strategy

Section II: Funding Strategy  Print PDF

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Public Funds by Age (chart)
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Developing a Funding Strategy
Steps and Strategies to Acquire Funding for Assistive Technology

Step 1: Define and document the need.
Step 2: Identify the equipment and/or services needed.
Step 3: Determine if an alternative device will meet the need.
Step 4: Determine potential funding sources.
Step 5: Gather all essential information to be submitted including prescriptions and other justifications
Step 6: Seek appeals as appropriate.

Appeals and Advocacy

Potential Funding Sources at a Glance

Glossary of Assistive Technology Terms

Developing a Funding Strategy

The first thing to remember when seeking funding for assistive technology (AT) is that funding is usually available. Though the journey may take a while and may try your patience; do not give up! Persistence is the key, coupled with information.

Determining age, disability and other basic eligibility criteria will shorten the process and allow an individual to move through the subsequent funding steps. Knowing what device or equipment is needed and for what purpose(s) is an important factor, because ALL funding sources have a particular focus or purpose, such as vocational/ employment, education, medical, etc. Thus, knowing the purpose(s) or use of the assistive technology can assist narrowing down the list of possible funding sources.

Ask questions: seek out information, suggestions and guidance from peers, service providers and professionals in the field of assistive technology. Learn ALL you can! Gathering the right information and documenting your need(s) is fundamental in the approach to obtain funding and will become a core part of the request to the funding source(s).
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Steps and Strategies to Acquire Funding for Assistive Technology

In developing a funding strategy, it is important to follow some basic steps to increase the chances of success. The development and use of funding worksheets can be beneficial and help in working with accuracy and efficiency. We also recommend  keeping a list of names, phone numbers, and notes.

Step 1: Define and document the need.

Why is Assistive Technology Needed?
This involves identifying the areas AT may be of  assistance. You may already have some idea about how AT could provide you with fuller access, inclusion in society and improve your quality of life. However, funding success depends upon clearly describing the need and exactly how AT may assist in the home, school, work and/or in daily  community activities.

To be successful in obtaining funding for AT devices and services, it is necessary to justify and document the need(s). At this point, it may be wise to involve a professional and/or an advocate to assist in documenting these need(s). This person should have a great deal of experience or information to  help thoroughly and precisely document those needs. Describe the specific benefits of the AT and what the device will enable you to accomplish at home, school, work and/or in daily life in the community. If seeking funding from health insurance providers, Medicaid, etc., determine the health-related and preventative benefits of the AT device (i.e., prevention of accidents/falls, further injury; prevention of physical or health deterioration; additional loss of function; employment; etc).

This professional might be a teacher or early interventionist, a speech therapist, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a vocational counselor, an independent living coordinator, an assistive technology professional, or a rehabilitation engineer. The necessary documentation may include input from a combination of these professionals, depending on specific need(s). Involve one or more of these professionals throughout the request, but begin with the documentation of need. This is also the time to involve an advocate and other support persons.
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Step 2: Identify the equipment and/or services needed.

What assistive device, equipment, or service is needed?
Once the need has been defined and documented, the AT devices and services required to fill this need must be identified and described. THIS IS THE CRITICAL STEP IN THE FUNDING PROCESS AND MUST BE DONE IN DETAIL. This includes a specific written justification from the appropriate professionals. This justification can take several forms: a) an evaluation or assessment report, b) a medical prescription, or c) other written justification that may be needed.

This information is used to develop a written “documentation of need” or justification and must be written in such a way that it convinces or proves to the funding source of the AT needed for specified purposes or outcomes. The extent, detail and scope of this written justification will also depend on which funding sources are pursued. Later you may find it necessary to come back to this step in the process for further documentation and/or clarification. The following is a list of supportive materials that are often essential in documenting these needs:

  • Physician’s prescription for the AT devices and/or services, and often a letter of medical necessity.
  • For Medicare, Medicaid and other medical/health-related sources, there must be a determination of “medical necessity” to receive authorization for Durable Medical Equipment (DME). It is strongly recommended, and usually required, that the physician also write a letter substantiating this medical necessity.
  • Letters of medical necessity from the other licensed health care professionals involved in the case (physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, AT  profession,  etc).
  • Detailed explanation of the individual’s functional skills and capabilities without the AT device or equipment and how these will be improved with the requested AT device or equipment.
  • Video of the individual using the device, if it helps to demonstrate the need and the person’s capacity to use the device.
  • Specifications of the AT device or equipment including cost, features, and a catalog picture or photograph.

At this point in the funding process, obtain prices for the AT devices and/or equipment identifying vendors or where it can be purchased. This can be very important because the funding source will always be concerned with the cost of the device,  and because the identified dealer of the equipment may be able to help you along in the process. Some funding sources, such as Medicaid, ONLY purchase equipment from designated (DME) dealers that have completed the approval process and appear on the “approved vendor” list. Medicare uses the regional  the competive bid vendor.
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Step 3: Determine if an alternative device will meet the need.

Is there an alternative device or equipment that will function equally as well?
Based on past funding approvals and denials for AT, there may be a need to determine if any alternative devices would also meet your need(s). Investigate these alternatives BEFORE applying to any funding source. Be as prepared as possible in order to make the process easier.

When reviewing requests, all funding sources will determine if the charge for the AT devices and/or services is reasonable and at a customary or typical rate. Also, the funding source may have to be convinced that the AT is cost effective. To determine if a request is reasonable, consider the following questions:

Is there a way to borrow, make or fabricate this device or equipment?

  •  Can it be borrowed from   ABLE Tech’s  short-term equipment loan program?
  •  Do the benefits of the device or equipment outweigh the expense?
  •  Is there a less expensive device or service that meets the individuals need(s) just as effectively?
  •  Does the device or equipment serve the same purpose as the equipment that is already available to the individual?

If possible visit an AT demonstration center, in order to compare the features of similar devices. If there are no alternative devices that can be found that will meet the particular need, be sure to have that fact well documented. Remember, do not let the cost of the assistive technology prevent selecting the most appropriate AT device or adaptation.  This process of matching the technology to needs is crucial to the successful use of AT once it is acquired.

Guiding Questions

  • What AT device and/or service will achieve the targeted level of functioning?
  • What professionals are available who can help justify the medical necessity for the AT device (if pursuing medical related source)?
  • Is there a case manager or program coordinator assigned to the case? How can one be secured?
  • Where can the AT be obtained?
  • How much does it cost? Can it be rented?
  • Can the equipment manufacturer or local vendor provide any special assistance?
  • What additional services are needed, such as training, follow-up and maintenance of the device

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Step 4: Determine potential funding sources.

What potential funding sources are available?
Now that you have determined the AT need, begin the process of requesting funding assistance. You may choose to personally pay for the AT, if that is possible. On a case by case basis, there may be sources legally mandated to assist with the purchase of the AT.

Before approaching any one source; it would be helpful to make a list of all possible sources and then prioritize them. This will provide ready options to go to if you have difficulty with the primary choice. The key, again, is to be well-prepared: with choices, with documentation, with determination.

Individuals may want to seek assistance in identifying and approaching funding sources. Possibilities would include the Durable Medical Equipment (DME) vendor, a case manager, a social worker, a health care professional, or one of the professionals that helped the individual to identify the AT devices and/or services to meet the individuals AT need(s). It is important to involve as many support people as possible.

At this point in the process you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can you or your family pay for the device?
  • Do you have private health insurance? If so, does the policy cover the type of AT devices and/or services that are needed?
  • Are there public funding sources available and appropriate for the individual’s need and circumstances?
  • Are there limits to how much the program pays?
  • Does your particular disability qualify and is there financial criteria that must be met?
  • Who will “own” the AT device or equipment, the individual or the public agency/program?
  • Are there private funding sources available?
  • What is the specific eligibility criteria for each one?
  • What is the application process? How long is the wait and are funds readily available?
  • Do you qualify for any low-interest loan program available through ABLE Tech?
  • Are there manufacturer or company rebates or discounts available for the specific AT device or equipment?
  • Does the equipment supplier or vendor have special approaches to financing?
  • Is a home equity loan a possibility?

A personal or home equity loan could be done as a last resort if you just do not wish to get involved with a lot of bureaucracy and red tape. Conventional bank loans, however, may be difficult to obtain for AT. Therefore, ABLE Tech offers a Financial Loan Program, a low-interest loan for financing AT.

Traditional sources that have provided funding for assistive technology in the past are currently a time when “precedence setting” may occur. A strategy that might be effective in another state may not be as effective in Oklahoma. If the AT is a newly developed device, the funding source may take a conservative “hands-off” attitude. Knowing these things, it is important to plan the strategy and show patience and respect when dealing with prospective funding sources.

Helpful Hints for Approaching Funding Sources

  • Be polite, pleasant, and businesslike.
  • Communicate in writing whenever possible and     keep a copy. Encourage and develop a positive working relationship by directing letters or calls to the same person each time.
  • Maintain a routine connection with the funding source and DO NOT permit time gaps of three or more months between communications.
  • Maintain a record of ALL written and verbal communications. This is a time that you should NOT follow any “don’t call us, we’ll call you” practices. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease!”
  • Offer cooperation and willingness to provide proof of medical necessity and show how the technology will benefit the funding source.
  • When questioned, try to educate and inform in an assertive, knowledgeable manner, emphasizing long-term monetary benefits to the funding source.
  • Remain patient and diplomatic while being persistent and assertive.
  • Never threaten the agency or company with legal action, unless you are being discriminated against. This is an often-heard threat and will not intimidate any agency or insurance company. In fact, it often reduces chances of getting needed AT and/or delays the process significantly.
  • When someone goes out of his/her way to help, express sincere thanks and appreciation.
  • Keep records of the names of people spoken to, what was said, where you were referred to next.

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Step 5: Gather all essential information to be submitted including necessary prescriptions and other justifications.

What information is necessary for each funding source to which I will apply?
Paperwork is an essential and necessary part of the funding process. Be prepared to provide extensive support for the
request. Ask specifically what information is required by the funding source. If it is unclear or it is uncertain - ASK QUESTIONS and request clarification (written if necessary).

Each funding source requires information to be submitted. The required information will differ from one funding source to another. However, the following list contains information typically required by most funding sources:

  • Information about  age, disability/medical diagnosis, prognosis, evaluation reports, etc.
  • Information on financial status such as private insurance coverage, employment status, level and source of income, etc. (only needed when specific financial criteria are part of determining eligibility).

A service provider, will typically assist with gathering and completing all the required paperwork. After the request for assistive technology has met all the criteria and all necessary paperwork has been submitted, you will receive a decision of approval or denial from the funding source.

Guiding Questions

  • What is the most likely source of funding?
  • Are there financial criteria? (Remember that this information will be verified by the agency. It is critical that all resources are reported.)
  • Have you dealt with this source before? Were you successful? What problems did you encounter? Who was the contact person?
  • Is there more than one potential source of funding available?
  • Is it possible for two different funding sources to coordinate payment that will equal or approach the total cost?
  • Are there individuals with disabilities who have been successful in receiving funding for the device you seek?
  • Will the device or service enable you to enter or continue employment, live more independently, enter or continue schooling or improve your overall health? Depending on the funding source, you may have to prove one or more of these benefits.
  • Are the written policy coverages of sources available? Review these for wording and specific jargon that will assist in writing the justification.
  • If you became disabled through a work-related accident, is the cost of the device or service the responsibility of worker’s compensation insurance?
  • Is there a local civic or charitable organization, foundation or association in your area that can help raise the necessary funds?

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Step 6: Seek appeals as appropriate.

Why was my application denied? How do I file an appeal?
If the request for funding is denied, you may appeal the decision. The appeals process is an opportunity  to approach the funding source and ask for a review of the initial decision. Often, the denial for funding for AT is due to a lack of understanding or knowledge of assistive devices by the eligibility determination specialist.
ALL PUBLIC OR GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES HAVE AN INTERNAL APPEALS PROCESS. YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO REQUEST AN APPEAL AND TO HAVE YOUR REQUEST OR CLAIM REVIEWED.
Specifics on the appeals process for public agencies are included, by agency, in the fact sheets in Section III: Public Sources of Funding.

If possible, determine why the initial request was denied. Is further supporting information needed? Was there a lack of funds? Good rapport with the funding source personnel will prove helpful at this point. If you have dealt professionally and respectfully with agency personnel prior to this point, it is likely that these same professionals will be willing to discuss why the request was denied and will make suggestions to assist with the  appeal.

Try to find evidence of whether the agency has previously funded such a device in the past. If so, a precedent has been set, and it will be more difficult for the agency to deny your appeal.

Assistive products and devices are becoming available at a much faster rate than are the funds to pay for them. Much of this new and innovative technology can be very expensive. The need for it will continue to be questioned by funding sources and denials will occur. Be aware of the variety of AT options which exist.

Again, make sure to know what specific information is required by the source. Always check paperwork closely to be sure it is complete and correct.

What happens when funding is approved and authorization occurs?
Written approval will be given for the amount of money that has been authorized toward the purchase of the specified AT. If the approval is for the entire or full amount requested/needed, the AT supplier or vendor will process the order and deliver the equipment. If the approval is for less than the full amount, locate other options to fund the remaining amount. This is why it is important to determine ALL potential funding sources as soon as possible, so that you can expedite the process.

Final Suggestion...

  • Never give up when it comes to funding! Key components in successfully obtaining funding are:
  • Perseverance and determination
  • Exercising self-advocacy
  • Educate the funding source personnel by demonstrating the benefits of the AT device
  • Investigating and actively seeking alternate funding sources if necessary

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Appeals and Advocacy

In Oklahoma, there are several resources to assist with the appeals process and/or to pursue other routes, such as legal action. These include the Client Assistance Program (CAP), Office of Disability  Concerns, Office of Client Advocacy, Oklahoma Parents Center, Alternative Dispute Early Settlement Mediation Program, Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Special Education Resolution Center, and Oklahoma Disability Law Center.

Client Assistance Program (CAP)

The Client Assistance Program (CAP), a program within the Office of Disability Concerns, is the advocacy unit that assists eligible persons with complaints, appeals and understanding the 1998 Rehabilitation Act Amendments.

The CAP assists by providing:

  • Information about the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended
  • Information about services available to clients and applicants through the Vocational Rehabilitation program
  • Assist and advocate between counselors, facilities and clients to resolve problems
  • Inform individuals especially those with disabilities who have traditionally been unserved or underserved by vocational rehabilitation programs, of the services available to them under the Act and of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

William Ginn, Director
Office of Disability Concerns
2401 NW 23rd, Suite 90
Oklahoma City, OK 73107-2423
(405) 521-3756 (Oklahoma City, V)
(800) 522-8224 (statewide, V/TDD)
FAX: (405) 522-6695
www.odc.ok.gov/C.A.P/index.html

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Office of Disability Concerns

The Office of Disability Concerns (ODC) is an independent state agency whose purpose is to help state government develop policies and services that meet the needs of Oklahomans with disabilities.  ODC serves as a resource, to people with disabilities, who want to present their views and recommendations to the Governor, the State Legislature and State agencies. The Office of Disability Concerns provides information and referral, technical assistance to individuals with disabilities, businesses and governmental entities on various topics concerning people with disabilities.

2401 NW 23rd, Suite 90
Oklahoma City, OK 73107-2423
(405) 521-3756 (Oklahoma City, V)
(800) 522-8224 (statewide, V/TDD)
FAX: (405) 522-6695
www.odc.ok.gov

Special Education Resolution Center (SERC)

The Special Education Resolution Center (SERC) offers innovative programs that assist school districts and parents in settling disputes regarding the Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) of students with disabilities. The programs are provided at no cost through a partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Education. SERC provides stakeholder training that supports mutual collaboration.

Jo Anne Pool-Blades, Program Manager
9726 E 42nd Street, Suite 203
Tulsa, OK 74146
(918) 270-1849
(888) 267-0028
FAX: (918) 270-2062
http://serc.okstate.edu

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Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.

Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc., is a nonprofit Oklahoma corporation providing free legal services to Oklahoma’s poor as well as its senior citizens. Attorneys and paralegals at Legal Aid can help with civil (non-criminal) cases involving basic needs.  Priority is given to the most urgent cases.

Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.
2915 Classen Blvd., Suite 500
Oklahoma City, OK 73106
(888) 534-5243
www.legalaidok.org

Oklahoma Parents Center, Inc.

The Oklahoma Parents Center is the statewide parent training and information (PTI) center serving parents of children with disabilities. The goal is to educate and support parents, families and professionals in building partnerships that meet the needs of children and youth with the full range of disabilities ages’ birth to 26. It is a regionalized model with staff living in the area that they serve.
Oklahoma Parents Center provides the following services statewide:

  • Training on a variety of topics related to children with disabilities
  • Community IEP Partner Training and Matching
  • Count Me In Disability Awareness Programs
  • Information and referral
  • Special Education Help-Line
  • Statewide Conference
  • Quarterly newsletter

Sharon House, Executive Director
223 N. Broadway, P. O. Box 512
Holdenville, Oklahoma 74848
(877) 553-4332 (V/TDD)
FAX: (405) 379-2106
info@oklahomaparentscenter.org
www.OklahomaParentsCenter.org

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Office of Client Advocacy

The Office of Client Advocacy, Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS), provides advocacy assistance, conducts investigation and maintains grievance programs to promote client safety and independence and the delivery of OKDHS programs and services in a fair, honest and professional manner.

Oklahoma Department of Human Services
P. O. Box 25352
Oklahoma City, OK 73125
(405) 525-4850
(800) 522-8014 (statewide)
FAX: (405) 525-4855
www.okdhs.org/divisionsoffices/oca

Alternative Dispute Early Settlement Mediation Programs

The Alternative Dispute Resolution System in Oklahoma is currently made up of eleven community-based mediation centers (Early Settlement) and twelve programs developed by state agencies. (Appendix A) This system which was authorized (1983) and funded (1985) by the state legislature through the Oklahoma Dispute Resolution Act, which is administered and supervised by the Administrative Director of the Courts (ADC) through his designee, the ADR System Director, with the ongoing input of the Dispute Resolution Advisory Board. The purpose of the system, as stated in the Act is "to provide to all citizens of this state convenient access to dispute resolution proceedings which are fair, effective, inexpensive, and expeditious."

Sue D. Tate, ADR System Director
2100 N. Lincoln Blvd., Suite 3
Oklahoma City, OK  73105
(405) 556-9873
sue.tate@oscn.net
www.oscn.net.static/adr/

See Appendix B for a list of the Early Settlement Mediation Regional Offices.

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Oklahoma Disability Law Center

The mission of the Oklahoma Disability Law Center, Inc. is to protect, promote and expand the rights of people with disabilities. The ODLC mission reflects a belief that people with disabilities are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect; to be free from abuse, neglect, exploitation and discrimination.

Tulsa Office
2828 E 51st St., Suite 302
Tulsa, OK 74105
(918) 743-6220 (V/TDD)
(800) 266-5883 (V/TDD)
 http://oklahomadisabilitylaw.org/

Oklahoma City Office
2915 Classen Blvd
300 Cameron Bldg
Oklahoma City, OK 73106
(405) 525-7555 (V/TDD)
(800) 880-7755 (V/TDD)

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POTENTIAL FUNDING SOURCES AT A GLANCE FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES IN OKLAHOMA

Additional Sources Across Age Groups include Private Sources, Service Clubs, Fraternal Organizations, Low Interest Loan Programs, Charitable Organizations, Grants, and Foundations

PRE-SCHOOL AGE

  • SoonerStart
  • Head Start
  • Special Education
  • Private Insurance
  • Medicaid
  • Medicaid - Home & Community Based Waiver
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • SSI - Disabled Children’s Program
  • Family Support Assistance
  • JD McCarty Ctr for Children with Dev Disabilities
  • OK Durable Medical Equipment Reuse Program
  • Easter Seals of Oklahoma
  • Muscular Dystrophy Association
  • Donna Nigh Foundation
  • The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital

SCHOOL AGE

  • Special Education
  • Head Start
  • Private Insurance
  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • SSI - Disabled Children’s Program
  • Medicaid - Home & Community Based Waiver
  • JD McCarty Ctr for Children with Dev Disabilities
  • Family Support Assistance
  • Vocational Rehabilitation
  • OK Durable Medical Equipment Reuse Program
  • Easter Seals of Oklahoma
  • Muscular Dystrophy Association
  • Donna Nigh Foundation
  • The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital
  • Hike Fund
  • Limeades for Learning

WORKING AGE

  • Medicare
  • Private Insurance
  • Medicaid
  • Insure Oklahoma
  • Medicaid - Advantage Waiver
  • Medicaid - Home & Community Based Waiver
  • Money Follows the Person Waiver
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Veterans Benefits
  • Oklahoma Equipment Exchange
  • OK Durable Medical Equipment Reuse Program
  • ABLE Tech Financial Loan Program
  • Donna Nigh Foundation

SENIORS

  • Medicare
  • Private Insurance
  • Medicaid
  • Insure Oklahoma
  • Medicaid - ADvantage Waiver
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Single Family Housing Loan & Grant Program
  • Veterans Benefits
  • Oklahoma Equipment Program
  • OK Durable Medical Equipment Reuse Program
  • ABLE Tech Finacial Loan Program
  • Senior Citizens Hearing Aid Project
  • Veterans Benefits

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GLOSSARY OF ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY TERMS

  • Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) - specialized formats for curricular content that can be used by and with students who have a print disability.  Formats can include braille, large print, audio or digital text.
  • Activities of Daily Living (ADL) - activities that reflect a person’s ability to perform tasks that are essential for self-care, such as bathing, grooming, feeding oneself, dressing, toileting, and mobility including walking, transferring, or independently using a wheelchair to move from one place to another.
  • Advocacy - speaking or acting on behalf of someone to protect his or her rights and needs.
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) - any system that aids individuals who are not independent verbal communicators. The system can include speech, gestures, sign language, symbols, synthesized speech, dedicated communication aids or microcomputers.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) - the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act  (ADAAA) of 2008 assures full civil rights of people with disabilities. Guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in employment, public accommodations, transportation, state and local government services and telecommunications.
  • Appeal - a process which takes place after a request or application is denied. Additional information is supplied to the funding agency so they may reconsider the request.
  • Apps - application software, also known as an app, is computer software designed to help the user to perform specific tasks.  Many apps can assist an individual with disabilities to be more independent in a variety of task such as speaking, reading, learning, and memory.
  • Assistive Technology (AT) - a term to describe any type of assistive device or service.
  • Assistive Technology Device - any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.
  • Assistive Technology Service(s) - any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. These include evaluation and assessment, acquisition and/or purchase, coordination with existing services, training and technical assistance for an individual with a disability and/or the family, and training or technical assistance for service providers and employers who are substantially involved with the individual.
  • Assistive Technology Professional (ATP) - a trained assistive technology professional analyzes the needs of individuals with disabilities, assists in
  • the selection of the appropriate device or equipment, and trains the individual on how to properly use the specific device or equipment. An ATP is certified by RESNA through a credentialed process.
  • Durable Medical Equipment (DME) - a piece of equipment that can withstand repeated use, is primarily and customarily used to service a medical
  • or therapeutic purpose, is generally not useful to a person in the absence of illness or injury, and is appropriate for use in the home.
  • Environmental Adaptations - modifications or changes made to an individual’s environment (e.g., home, work, school, community) to assist in living independently. These modifications include ramps, widening of doorways, modifying bathrooms, special furniture, other additions of equipment, etc.
  • Environmental Control Unit (ECU) - a system that enables individuals to control various devices in their environment with single or multiple switches. The control unit may be mounted on a wheelchair for ease of access. Devices that can be operated with ECUs include lights, door openers, televisions and telephones.
  • Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) - IDEA requires state and local education agencies that accept Federal funds to provide a FAPE, in the least restrictive environment, for ALL children with disabilities who are ages 3-21.
  • Inclusion and Integration - use of the same community resources available to others. Contact and interactions with citizens without disabilities including physically, socially, academically or vocationally and societally.
  • Individualized Education Program (IEP) - a plan used to document appropriate and individualized education. The IEP puts in writing the child’s current level of functioning, annual goals, short-term objectives and support and/or related services needed to achieve these goals and objectives (including the need for AT devices and services).
  • Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) - a written plan developed by a consumer and a vocational rehabilitation counselor to outline all the services needed to find employment and an appropriate career of the consumer’s choice.
  • Interdisciplinary Team - individuals involved in assessment and recommendations for persons with disabilities. The team consists of persons from a wide variety of disciplines including, but not limited to, medical experts, educators, speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, rehabilitation engineers, care providers, psychologists, rehabilitation counselors, and social workers.
  • Medically Necessary - The condition must be medical in nature and services necessary to alleviate a medical condition, not for convenience. Treatment of client condition, disease, or injury should be based on predictable health outcomes. Items need to be prescribed by a health care professional.  
  • Occupational Therapist - help persons with both physical and emotional problems. The term “occupation” used in the context of this profession refers to any activity with which persons occupy their time. Occupational Therapists focus on helping people master the everyday activities of life and work.
  • Orthotics - the selection, fabrication and fitting of devices used to protect, support, or improve the function of parts of the body. Any device of this type is called an orthosis or an orthotic device (plural - orthoses).
  • Physical Therapist - health care professionals who evaluate and treat people with health problems resulting from injury or disease.
  • Prior Approval - an agreement in writing that ensures payment of a device. Eligibility for prior approval must be determined by the funding source (agency) BEFORE the purchase of the device.
  • Prosthetics - the selection, fabrication and fitting of devices (artificial limbs) used to replace the function of parts of the body that move (i.e., arms, hands, legs, feet). Any device of this type is called a prosthesis or a prosthetic device (plural - prostheses).
  • Screen Reader Software - also referred to as text-to-speech utilizes computer software or apps to convert text to a digital format that reads the information out loud.  Specialized software can also highlight words, sentences or paragraphs as the text is being read.
  • Speech Generating Device (SGD) - also known as voice output communication aids, are electronic augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems used to supplement or replace speech or writing for individuals with severe speech impairments, enabling them to verbally communicate their needs.
  • Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) - professionals that provide treatment of speech defects and disorders, especially through use of exercises and audio-visual aids that develop new speech habits. The SLP may also provide AAC assessments and training.
  • Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD) - allows a person to transmit typed messages over the phone lines to another person with a TDD. Most TDDs include a keyboard for typing messages to send, and a display and/or printer to receive messages.
  • Universal Design - a concept or philosophy for designing and delivering products and services that are usable by people with the widest possible range of functional capabilities, which include products and services that are directly accessible (without requiring assistive technologies) and products and services that are interoperable with assistive technologies.
  • Voice Recognition System - also referred to as speech-to-text, an access system designed to replace the standard keyboard as the method of input. The system is “trained” to recognize utterances that are spoken into a microphone. The utterances are translated into computer commands or sequences of alphanumeric characters and used to operate the computer and software.

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