Reaching Out And Serving Individuals With
Low Incidence Disabilities

By Nell Bailey

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

An earlier article outlined some strategies for making state AT projects more responsive to serving individuals with diverse needs and/or cultural backgrounds (see A.T. Quarterly, Vol. 2, No. 5). Such individuals with disabilities often include those who are African-American, Hispanic, and American Indian. They also include the non-English speaking; those living in rural, isolated areas; and persons with multiple disabilities and/or medically complex needs.

Since then, the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research has awarded eight Public Awareness and Training Grants under the Tech Act (P.L. 100-407) to better respond to such needs. The grant recipients will develop training materials and/or disseminate public awareness information about assistive technology for persons with disabilities. This article will highlight four of the projects that have an emphasis on outreach to underserved groups.

Of the eight grants awarded, three were awarded to organizations to develop training materials on the uses and benefits of assistive technology for individuals with low-incidence disabilities. One organization, RESNA, will target their training efforts to individuals of low-incidence groups who are Black and Hispanic, their family members, and the professionals who work with them.

The RESNA initiative, Project Reaching Out, will develop, evaluate, implement, and disseminate a culturally sensitive three-hour curriculum on the demonstrated uses and benefits of assistive technology and how to access assistive technology services through funding and advocacy skills. The project will take a "train-the-trainer" approach to approximately five sites funded under the Tech Act. These sites will then replicate these materials in their training efforts. Additionally, all Tech Act funded states and other interested parties will receive the training materials developed.

A review panel will assist Project Reaching Out staff by ensuring materials are culturally sensitive. This project also will demonstrate how assistive technology can be used to make training materials accessible to individuals with disabilities (via, closed captioning, audio narration, braille, large print, cassette tape, computer disk and Spanish language translation).

A second training grant was awarded to the Foundation for Technology Access. The Foundation's Project ACTION (Accessing Computer Technology In Our Neighborhoods) will work with five diverse communities to provide neighborhood access to assistive technology beginning in Huntsville, Alabama, Denver, Colorado, and Baltimore, Maryland. In doing so, it will sponsor demonstrations of assistive technology in heavily traveled places such as public libraries and community centers as well as arrange for individual and/or small group training and instruction in technology use.

Project ACTION also will create videotapes of individuals with low-incidence disabilities using assistive technology effectively to document its potential and to share that knowledge and information with others. Finally, this initiative will seek to educate consumers and family members about technology options, sources for funding equipment, and crucial new legislation related to technology and independent living for individuals with low-incidence disabilities.

Two public awareness projects also were funded by NIDRR. The Alaska Public Radio Network (APRN) will develop a model campaign to raise the publicūs awareness of assistance available for American Indians with disabilities. The American Indians with Disabilities Public Awareness Campaign will use bilingual radio and television public service announcements, informational mailings and personal outreach to build awareness of assistive technologies and how they can be accessed. The project will target two states, Alaska and New Mexico, with high concentrations of Native Americans, and work closely with Assistive Technologies of Alaska and the New Mexico Technology Assistance Program in carrying out its activities.

Seaside Associates, Inc., also has been awarded a public awareness grant to disseminate information on the benefits, availability, and funding of assistive technology products and services to populations traditionally considered underserved. Seaside will conduct a multi-media campaign, the Tech Info Project (TIP), which will focus on the development of multi-lingual (English, Khmer, Spanish, Portuguese) and accessible (open captioned, signed) audiovisual materials that describe assistive technology products and services, their uses and procurement. Similarly, outreach methods to disseminate materials to minority and disability publications, local and cable television and radio stations, and presentations to community groups and state agencies will be conducted.

The initiative will recruit and train minority community leaders and individuals with disabilities to present the assistive technology public awareness campaign to their constituents. Seaside Associates also will launch a nationwide outreach effort that will offer guidance, technical assistance and project materials to private and public sector agencies interested in replicating the assistive technology public awareness campaign in their states.

For more specific information on these four projects, contact each project directly. For a list of Title II, Part C awards, contact the RESNA TA Project.

Outreach Projects

Project Reaching Out
1101 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036

ACTION Project
Foundation for Technology Access
1307 Solano Avenue
Albany, CA 94706

American Indians with Disabilities
Public Awareness Campaign
Alaska Public Radio Network
810 East Ninth Avenue
Anchorage, AK 99501-3826

Tech Info Project (TIP)
Seaside Educational Associates, Inc.
284 North Avenue
Weston, MA 02193

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