AT Systems Change Strategies for
Increasing Funding Access

By Michael Morris & Robert R. Williams

This article is reprinted from the A.T. Quarterly, Volume 3, Number 1 (1992)

Here are two strategies for tracking and promoting assistive technology systems change efforts around funding access concerns in your state.

Assistive Technology Systems Change Action Step Quiz

The following questions concern 11 specific AT action steps which advocates can take to foster increased access to assistive technology in your state. Take the quiz yourself and get others to do so as well. Make a list of those steps that have already been done and indicate any follow up actions that need to be carried out. Add these to your state systems change project■s collective "to do" list. Add to the top of that "to do" list any of the 11 steps that have never been completed. Make it a priority to complete them and, "Just do it!"

1. Do you know who is the lead agency in your state for implementation of the federal early intervention Part H mandate?
___________________________ Name of lead agency
___________________________ Name of state director

2. Have you met with the state director to discuss planning for enhanced technology access for infants and young children with disabilities?

3. Have you met with the state director of special education to discuss current efforts to monitor a child's right to assistive technology at a local school level?

4. Have you met with your state director of vocational rehabilitation services to discuss planning and implementation efforts to expand technology services and devices access to those receiving VR services?

5. Have you met with your state coordinator of independent living services to discuss expanded access to assistive technology?

6. Have you met with your state coordinator of supported employment services to discuss improved access to assistive technology?

7. Have you met with the state director of Medical Assistance or their appropriate representative to discuss Medicaid coverage of augmentative communication, powered mobility and other types of technology assistance?

8. Have you met with your state director of the Office of Aging to discuss access to assistive technology?

9. Have you met with your state protection and advocacy agency (P&A;) to discuss their active involvement in right to assistive technology cases?

10. Have you met with your state director of the Client Assistance Program (CAP) to discuss their involvement in eligibility and access to technology appeal cases?

11. Have you reserved a minimum of 10 percent of your budget for system change activities that focus on improved funding for assistive technology?

A Tester's Strategy

A second proven strategy to determine ease of funding access statewide is to use individuals with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities to "test the funding waters." A tester is a potential or current technology user with a disability. Tech Act systems change projects can identify individuals who would be willing to serve as testers of the funding system with the assistance of nonprofit organizations such as Easter Seal, United Cerebral Palsy, Independent Living Centers, Parent to Parent groups and others.

Care should be given to identify individuals broadly representative of the disability/assistive technology constituency in your states: parents of preschool and school age youngsters with disabilities, adults with disabilities, and senior citizens. Once this is done, each tester should make an appointment with a funding stream administrator to ask such questions as:

  1. Does the agency fund technology (mobility, communication, and computer access aids for daily living)?
  2. Who is eligible for funding?
  3. Are there dollar limits?
  4. What factors are considered in decision making?
  5. Do you have a budget to purchase technology devices and services?
  6. Is there an appeal process and please describe the timelines?
  7. Are there written policies and procedures?
  8. Are there individuals now waiting for assistance who have technology needs? If yes, estimate number and state why.
  9. Does the agency have any plans to address the unmet needs?

The tester records the answers and sends in notes from the meeting to the systems change project. The project would then analyze these reports to assess where breakdowns in the process occurred and what steps need to take place in order to secure meaningful access to assistive technology by all those entitled to it. As with all other similar activities, individuals with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities who serve as testers should be compensated for their time and any related expenses.

The A.T. Quarterly was a newsletter developed by the RESNA TA Project under a contract with the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), U.S. Department of Education (ED). The content, however, does not necessarily reflect the position or policy of NIDRR/ED and no official endorsement of the material should be inferred.

RESNA TA Project
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Arlington, VA 22209-1903
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