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Press Release

Tuesday, October 3, 2000
Contact: Nell Bailey, or Nancy Meidenbauer,
Phone: 703-524-6686 (V), 703-524-6639 (TTY)
Fax: 703-524-6630


Arlington, VA. --- The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) has awarded $3.8 million in grants to six states to operate financial loan programs for individuals with disabilities to purchase assistive technology (AT). The six states receiving grants are: Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Virginia. This is the first time NIDRR has funded alternative financing programs, authorized under Title III of the Assistive Technology Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-394) (AT Act).

Each of these state loan programs will match federal funds with state funds or private sources. The loan programs will be administered with partners from community-based organization partners and commercial lending institutions or state financing agencies to provide low interest loans to consumers.

These new projects are an example of federal dollars working as a catalyst to leverage state and community resources," noted Carol Cohen, Program Manager at NIDRR, who will administer these grants.

Consumers will be able to purchase all types of assistive technology devices and services, such as:
* wheelchairs
* environmental control units
* telecommunications devices for the deaf (TDDs).
* speech recognition devices
* home office accessibility modifications
* modified vans and lifts
These devices and equipment help individuals with disabilities at home, at school, at work and in the community.

Funding for technology has been a persistent barrier for individuals with disabilities. These new loan programs will offer consumers increased options to purchase assistive technology and provide alternatives for those who do not qualify for public financing programs.

The President has requested $15 million for additional awards in his FY 2001 budget. This money will fund similar programs in other states if approved by Congress.

NIDRR also awarded a grant to the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) to provide technical assistance to help these newly funded financial loan programs. RESNA will partner with the Virginia Assistive Technology System (VATS) and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). VATS will provide expert consultation to newly funded alternative financing programs and to those states interested in establishing a program. UIC will assist with data collection efforts.

Larry Pencak, RESNA's new Executive Director, said, "These new loan programs will have a tremendous impact by providing persons with disabilities new means to purchase assistive technology that can help them live and work more independently."

RESNA is the professional organization for persons working in the field of technology for individuals with disabilities. Members include practitioners, suppliers, manufacturers, end users/consumers, researchers, educators, and policy specialists.


1700 North Moore Street, Suite 1540
Arlington, VA 22209-1903
Phone: 703/524-6686  Fax: 703/524-6630  TTY: 703/524-6639

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