By: The National Assistive Technology Technical Assistance Partnership
Alternative Financing Program (AFP) provide financial loans to people with disabilities to enable them to purchase assistive technology. AFPs are located in 33 states and territories. Federal grants for AFPs were first provided to financial loan bprograms in fiscal year 2000, under the Assistive Technology Act. These grants established or expanded financial loan programs in the states.
The Rehabilitation Services Administration in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), of the U.S. Department of Education, has administered the AFP since December 2004. Prior to that time, the AFP was administered by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, also located in OSERS. Data reported here are derived from the eight-year period from federal fiscal years 2000-2008.
All AFPs were required to collect and report data about loans they provided directly or supported through lending institutions. Two types of data were reported by AFPs. These included program data and individual applicant data. Program data provided summary information about state programs including program partners, program features, and the performance of the loans that AFPs provided or supported. Individual applicant data were produced from data collected from individuals who were seeking loans to purchase AT. (A random identification code was created for each applicantís data to protect the individualís privacy.) The applicant data was collected during the loan application process. This information included applicant demographics, the type of assistive technology that the person wanted to purchase, and the functions that the purchased AT was likely to affect.
Annual program data were submitted by state AFP grantees to the Alternative Financing Technical Assistance Project (AFTAP), operated by the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA). Individual applicant data were submitted to a Web-based reporting system operated and maintained through the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Occupational Therapy Department, under a subcontract with RESNA.
Tables for this report were created using the Web-based outcomes reporting system at UIC and the annual program data survey. Sources for the data are noted at the end of each data table.
Some data were missing from individual applicant records. Applicants always have the right to refuse to answer survey questions. In addition, there is a group of loans for which data have not been able to be assigned to a particular year. Such missing data represent 447 loan applications processed out of a total of 13,644 (3.3%), and 88 of the loans made, from a total of 8,130 (1.1%)
Variations in the processes used across the states for collecting information affect reliability of the data. These variations were a function of program structure, human resource availability, and relationships with banks or other financial institutions. Some states collected data at the time of application while others collected it later, and therefore may be more subject to recall bias.