People who have received AT loans have purchased vans, communication devices, computers, vision aids, and other devices. They have also modified office spaces and homes. Meet some of the borrowers and find out how the AT purchased has impacted their lives at work, at school, and in the community.
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Employment | Transportation | Accessible Homes | Independent Living | Education | Family & Community Life | Health Care | More Success Stories
Adapted Van for Transportation to Work: Louisiana
A 39-year-old mother, who is paraplegic, was able to continue working and to drive her infant son to his doctor's appointments after purchasing an adapted minivan with an AFP loan from the Louisiana Alternative Financing Program. The van was purchased with a $17,000 loan of 1 percent for 7 years. "I am a T-8 paraplegic and now have a 5-month- old son," said Ms. F. "For me to be mobile with him, I needed to use my electric wheelchair, so this program helped me to finance a minivan." Mrs. F. said. The adapted transportation technology she now uses has eased the burden of care for her husband and relatives, who no longer have to transport her everywhere, she said. The Louisiana Alternative Financing Program staff worked hard to meet her needs. "The representatives were very polite, knowledgeable and responded very quickly," she said.
Van Leads to New Job, Completion of School: Oklahoma
Re-entering the workforce and completing an educational program are two goals that a 39-year-old Oklahoma woman has accomplished since she bought an adapted van through the Oklahoma Alternative Financing Program from Oklahoma ABLE Tech. Ms. W., who has significant physical disabilities, purchased the adapted transportation using a $25,000 loan at 5 percent interest. The van has helped her everyday in several significant areas of life. After buying the van Ms. W. was able to acquire a part-time job. "I was able to independently finish school," said Ms. W. who describes her quality of life as "much better, much freer." Ms. W. also spoke of the positive impact of the van on her family. "My children and husband have less care," she said. Ms. W. credits the Oklahoma AFP with giving her a way to purchase the van when other funding sources had turned her down in previous attempts. "In the past I could not borrow that much money from other sources," said Ms. W.
Hearing Aids Improve Communication: Kentucky
The purchase of new hearing aids has significantly improved communication for a 51-year-old Kentucky resident at work and at home. The new technology has increased his ability to hear clearly at work, interact socially and to better remember and to learn. "I can hear a whole lot of things compared with what I could before," said Mr. F. "Now, people don't have to keep repeating themselves when they are talking to me and I think that is positive for everyone. My social interactions have improved immensely and that has affected my friends, family and acquaintances." Staff at the Kentucky Assistive Technology Loan Corporation were very helpful and promptly processed the loan needed for purchase of the hearing aids, Mr. F. said. Applying for an AFP loan was "convenient, easy, responsive and quick. My audiologist told me about it and I realized you did not have to make these big loan applications or jump through loops. It was easy," said Mr. F.
Accessible Home Office: Kansas
Rick turned to the Kansas Assistive Technology Cooperative (KATCO) for a low-cost loan to convert part of his garage into an accessible home office where he could write computer code for aeronautics manufacturing plants. Rick had lost the use of his legs after being severely injured in a car accident 7 years ago. In addition to his need for a home office, Rick also wanted to purchase a $4,000 device that would allow him to stand independently as he worked in order to strengthen his weakening bones. United Cerebral Palsy promised to pay one-half his cost if Rick could fund the other half. Through KATCO Rick received the low-interest loan that he needed. "KATCO was the only resource I found that could help me," Rick said. "If it weren't for them, I couldn't do what I've done with my rehab."
Laptop Computer for Job: Maryland
Cynthia, an educational assistant at an elementary school in Baltimore, struggled to keep a legible classroom log. Her writing was difficult to read because of poor fine motor control due to her cerebral palsy. She tried to write her own log notes, which only a few of her fellow staff could decipher, or asked colleagues to take dictation, which proved to be inconvenient for both Cynthia and her coworkers. "I didn't want an administrator or a parent saying to my principal, 'You have a teacher who turns in reports like that?'" Cynthia related, "But I needed to write independently and not rely on other teachers all the time."
Cynthia began using a desktop to produce her log but she found she needed something portable because she rotated among a number of classrooms and needed to write some classroom notes at home as well. She decided to apply for a loan for a laptop from Maryland's Assistive Technology Guaranteed Loan Program. She got the loan and the laptop and now carries her laptop wherever she goes. Not only are her classroom log notes legible, but she produces her own greeting cards as well.
Home Modifications for Home Business: Pennsylvania
Tom received approval for a $24,000 grant from the state of Pennsylvania, through a program that promotes employment of people with disabilities to make significant modifications to his home to run his small business. However the state program would provide reimbursement only after the home modifications were made. Tom did not have the $24,000 necessary to start and complete the needed modifications.
Through the loan program with the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF), Tom was able to borrow the $24,000 to make the modifications, which he plans to pay back with the state grant money once his home modifications are completed.
Vision Aid: Virginia
Betty has severe myopia, a nearsighted condition that prevents her from seeing clearly in the distance-even with glasses or contacts. With her vision problems, Betty was unable to read signs at a distance to pass a vision test to obtain a driver's license. She learned about Virginia's Assistive Technology Loan Fund Authority (ATLFA) from the Piedmont Independent Living Center in Danville.
"I can't work if I don't have transportation. The town I live in doesn't have public transportation, so I need my driver's license," Betty said. After receiving a low-interest loan from ATLFA, Betty went to a Low Vision Clinic, was fitted with contact lenses, and purchased the special bi-optic lenses and the necessary fittings. She now has a job and new independence in her life. "I can't thank ATLFA enough for all the help I received! I hope everyone learns about the ATLFA," said Betty.
Adapted Van for Work: Pennsylvania
Elizabeth, a 45-year-old woman with cerebral palsy, uses an electric scooter to get around. Elizabeth drove an older, adapted minivan, to transport her scooter, but the van continually broke down and was past the point of repair. The state Office of Vocational Rehabilitation was willing to pay the cost of modifications for a new van but Elizabeth needed to buy the new vehicle. Because of a recent family crisis and related financial difficulties, Elizabeth was unable to obtain a car loan through traditional lending institutions.
Elizabeth applied for a loan for the van through the Assistive Technology Financing Program operated by the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF). The PATF approved a $23,600 loan for her van and Elizabeth received her newly adapted vehicle. She now has a reliable vehicle to transport her (and her scooter) to work and to use on work-related trips. She also uses the van for personal errands and to go to social and recreational activities.
Accessible Van: Utah
Lopeti was unable to purchase an accessible van after she secured a loan from the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation (UATF). "A wheelchair friendly and accessible van allows me to live life to the fullest, and contribute to society once again," Lopeti said.
In the past, Lopeti had relied on Salt Lake City's public transportation systems, which often could not pick her up in her wheelchair and she missed many appointments and meetings. The van allows Lopeti to get to her doctor's appointments, physical therapy appointments and community service meetings each month. "I have always known that I have so very much to offer my community and society as a whole if only I were able to get this transportation issue taken care of," Lopeti said.
Van with Lift for Son: Utah
Alexander is a young boy with multiple disabilities that include seizures, low muscle tone and hearing and vision loss. He uses a specialized wheelchair and his parents were looking for help in obtaining a low-interest loan to purchase a van with a lift to transport Alexander. Through the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation loan program (UATF), the family obtained a 6-year loan to purchase the van. Catherine, his mother, said the new van has made a big difference in their lives. "UATF has been so wonderful to work with. I really appreciated UATF's patience with all my questions about the loan process. It's great to meet staff who care about children with disabilities and who want to help us meet the needs of our son Alexander," Catherine said.
Home Modifications for Toddler: Maryland
Three-year old Kenny nearly drown when he fell into a neighbor's swimming pool. He was rushed to a nearby hospital and then transported by helicopter to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. During his 8 months at the hospital, where he remained in a coma, his mother, Karen, remained by his side day and night. On mostly unpaid leave from her employer, Karen and her family experienced severe financial burdens. "We'd always had good credit before, but the time I was off work changed all that," Karen said.
The family wanted to build an addition with a bedroom and bathroom for Kenny with enough space for the nurses who would be caring for Kenny when he came home. But they did not qualify for a conventional loan due to poor credit. A neighbor showed Karen an article about Maryland's Assistive Technology Guaranteed Loan Program. "I couldn't believe it. It was such a blessing. We got a loan and were able to put the addition on the house. It's accessible, and the rest of the family has privacy when the nurses are here," Karen said. "Without this program, there's no way Kenny could have come home." Since Kenny returned home, he has grown more responsive and regained some mobility, he even started to breathe on his own.
Motorized Wheelchair: Kansas
Mary taught children with learning disabilities for 20 years but was forced to retire from her teaching job when she experienced post-polio syndrome, with severe fatigue and muscular weakness. Her left arm no longer functioned and she needed a motorized wheelchair to continue living independently.
Mary wanted to buy a $5,000 wheelchair but could not afford it on her fixed income. The United Cerebral Palsy Association offered $2,500 toward the chair if Mary could find matching funds. After calling 50 organizations, and being turned down, Mary was stymied. Then she learned of the Kansas Assistive Technology Cooperative (KATCO), which offered a low-interest loan program. Mary purchased her wheelchair and continues to live independently. "It gives you a sense of dignity because it's a loan," Mary said. "I'm paying for half."
Braille Note Taker: Utah
For Quinn, an 11-year-old Utah student who lost his eyesight because of a rare hereditary eye disease, new AT has given him essential tools to continue participating in his school's mainstream classes. Quinn's parents obtained a BrailleNote 18-a note-taking device that also is a portable book reader, word processor, scheduler and scientific calculator-through an AFP loan from the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation (UATF). The UATF serves people with disabilities throughout the state. Quinn, who continues to earn straight A's at Cedar Ridge Middle School in Hyde Park, Utah, needed the AT immediately, so his parents chose an AFP loan rather than the longer process necessary to acquire the device through the school system.
Quinn said the device keeps him one step ahead of students in his computer lab. "I get it (the assignment) turned in much sooner than them," he said about his work in the school's computer classes. The BrailleNote has allowed Quinn to connect to the school's printers, with the option of printing assignments in regular type or Braille, or even of providing speech output. The BrailleNote convinced Quinn's teacher that he could continue to participate in mainstream classes without much extra help. Quinn's incredible work ethic coupled with the use of his AT has enabled him to consistently produce excellent schoolwork, his teacher said. Instead of hindering the progress of other students, which was an initial concern of his teacher, Quinn "has helped lift the whole class," Quinn's teacher said. Moreover, Quinn's mother Karen now easily helps him edit homework as the BrailleNote can print his assignments from home. Previously, Quinn's parents had to wait until someone translated his work from Braille to print before they could assist him.
Computer for Relearning Skills: Wisconsin
A computer purchased through WisLoan, the Wisconsin AFP, has helped a 49-year-old man relearn financial skills and provides critical assistance in everyday activities, such as reading. "The computer reads for me," said Mr. H. "I have had difficulties reading due to my stroke. It has had a big impact on my life." Through use of the computer he is able to participate in home management activities by working with his wife to use computer software to pay their bills. The flexible features of the Wisconsin loan program, such as low interest rates, made the computer loan accessible for him, Mr. H. said. "The interest rate is not very high," said Mr. H. "It makes it affordable."
Communication Device: Virginia
A neurological condition was severely limiting 5-year-old Jack R.'s ability to communicate with his family, kindergarten classmates, and teachers. Specialists at Kluge Children's Center in Virginia recommended use of a DynaVox augmentative communication device to help him learn to talk. Jack's school had offered to rent a less expensive device to help with his verbal apraxia, a condition in which a child can listen and comprehend information normally but can only communicate through non-verbal means. Jack's parents and the specialists, however, believed the DynaVox would best meet Jack's needs.
Because of previous financial difficulties, the family did not qualify for a conventional bank loan to purchase the device. The specialists told Jack's parents about the Virginia Assistive Technology Loan Fund Authority (ATLFA), which offered AFP loans for assistive technology. After ATLFA approved a $6,000 loan for the device, the DynaVox was purchased for Jack. With continuous use of the DynaVox at home, school, and with a speech therapist, Jack eventually learned to speak without the device. "On Christmas Eve, my son said 'Mommy' for the first time," Jack's mother Melinda said. "It was the greatest Christmas present I ever received."
Family and Community Life
Communication Device for Toddler: Illinois
An Illinois family purchased a specialized communication device that enabled their toddler to learn to speak through an AFP loan from the TechConnect Low Interest Loan Program of the Illinois Assistive Technology Project. Before receiving the device, the 3-year-old had been struggling to communicate and interact with family members, said Mr. L., the boy's father. A guaranteed AFP loan of $6,000 was used to purchase the augmentative communication technology. The change in his son's life has been dramatic since the child began using the device, according to the boy's family. "It has improved life significantly," said Mr. L. "My son has been able to talk because of it."
New Independence with Loan: Maryland
When public transportation proved to be increasingly unreliable for a Maryland woman with a disability, a loan from the Maryland Assistive Technology Guaranteed Loan Program helped her purchase an adapted van. The van, purchased through the Maryland Assistive Technology Guaranteed Loan Program, has brought new independence and increased choices and opportunities for Ms. N., a 45-year-old woman who has a physical disability. Through a $25,000 loan, Ms. N. was able to purchase a van that was adapted to her specific needs. "This van gives me the independence to do what I want when I want," said Ms. N. "It is the difference between night and day. I do not need to use public transportation and worry if it will arrive on time. Now I can do everything like everyone else. It has increased my spontaneity, and increased my self esteem and self reliance." The Maryland AFP staff supported her throughout the loan process, Ms. N. said. "I learned about the credit process and this is the first time I am establishing credit in my own name," she said. "I would use this program again and again if it means that I can obtain the equipment needed to maintain my independence. The staff were very caring and concerned about my needs, and they were very knowledgeable, obtained information for me, and I received a low interest rate…. This loan offered me the chance to be treated like everyone else by giving me the opportunity to experience the vehicle purchase process. I feel part of society and not as excluded." Given her successful loan experience, Ms. N. had begun filling out a loan application to purchase a wheelchair and a device to help her write and pick up and hold objects.
Scooter Provides Reliable Mobility: Florida
After her power scooter kept breaking down and leaving her stranded at doctor's appointments and when grocery shopping, Mrs. A., a retired Florida resident, was not sure where she could find financing to purchase a new scooter. Fortunately, Ms. A. found out about the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST, Inc.) and their Florida Alternative Financing Program.
As her credit history did not allow her to qualify for a traditional bank loan, Ms. A. applied for a low interest, guaranteed AFP loan through FAAST. After receiving the loan, Ms. A. was able to purchase a new power scooter that was larger, more comfortable and more reliable than the previous one. Ms. A. has greater independence in mobility now that she recharges the new scooter two to three times a week instead of the two to three times a day for the previous power scooter. "This is a big improvement in my life," said Ms. A. "I'm very happy with my life now. I can go to the bank, doctor appointments, restaurant, shopping, and visiting with friends. I feel more safe and secure knowing I'm not going to get stranded."
Home Renovation Provides Access: Pennsylvania
Home renovations to make a house more accessible for a Pennsylvania man have brought increased freedom and improvement in his quality of life. The 44-year-old Pennsylvanian used a guaranteed loan of $10,000 from the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation to build an accessible bathroom in his home. He said he has gained new independence in daily living activities. "Due to my disability I needed special accommodations that were very costly," said Mr. C. "It is wonderful to be able to freely do what so many take for granted-a shower on your own." Overall, the home accommodation has vastly improved his quality of life including his family relationships. "It has lessened the burden on my wife in assisting me and has improved the quality of my marriage," he said.
Adapted Van: Nevada
An affordable AFP loan provided the means for a Nevada family to purchase an adapted vehicle to transport their growing son and, particularly, to take him to health care appointments. "We use the van (with a lift) for our son's transportation to get him anywhere he wants to go," said Mrs. W., the child's mother "I am assured now that he is safer in the van and he also gets to go places. Otherwise, it would have been hard to transport him and he would not get the opportunity to go out more often." The parents also discussed several features of the AFP that made this loan feasible for them. "The payment is doable for our family and works into our finances in a way that we are able to afford. We now have a 10-year loan on the van." The parents said they used the loan AFP loan process to find information about other programs in the community that would help their son. Through an independent living community program they will receive funding for needed home accommodations for their son, accommodations that they had been unable to make because of the high cost.
Electric Wheelchair: Pennsylvania
A specialized wheelchair, purchased for his daughter who had a severe stroke, has enabled a Pennsylvania father to profoundly change the quality of life for his daughter who now resides in a nursing home. A specialized electric wheelchair purchased through a loan from the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation has transformed everyday life for the 54-year-old woman. The woman's father, Mr. T., applied for and received a loan to purchase the power wheelchair for his daughter.
"Our daughter suffered a massive stroke which left her paralyzed below the neck. We needed to get her a wheelchair that she could operate with her head," said Mr. T. "Before she got the wheelchair, she was immobile. She is now able to maneuver her wheelchair using her head, so she can get around the nursing home and also get to the rehabilitation center. (Without the wheelchair) my daughter would have been immobile and would have had to spend all her time in bed in the nursing home." Since receiving the wheelchair, the woman now is able to physically interact with her daughter, Mr. T.'s granddaughter. Mr. T. said the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation's interest rate buy-down loan, with a 3.5 percent interest rate, was the only loan that he could find to finance the wheelchair, as no other funding sources were willing to finance this assistive technology.
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