DISCOVERING HIDDEN RESOURCES
Assistive Technology Recycling, Refurbishing, and Redistribution
Technical Assistance Project
Programmatic Models for Assistive Technology Recycling Programs
Operators of recycling programs have Many programmatic models to choose from when designing a program that fits their situation. Programs can be classified by the way equipment is redistributed. For example, equipment may be given away, sold, placed on consignment, or loaned.
Many programs give away used assistive technology. These programs see the distribution of equipment as a means to ensure that those who need the equipment will receive it. Into New Hands (INH) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC) in Georgia are two programs that use this model.
Other recycling programs sell the used AT equipment, charging not only for the piece of equipment but also for the cost of refurbishing the equipment. These programs see the distribution of used equipment as a product line that generates revenue-at least enough funds to cover program costs. The New Hampshire Refurbished Equipment Marketplace (REM) and New Jersey's Back in Action (BIA) are two programs that work within this model.
AT technology recycling programs also can promote the short-term and long-term loan of equipment, such as the North Carolina Check-It-Out Program (CIO). Many states also operate an equipment exchange program/broker service or consignment program that allows individuals to identify others who want to buy or sell equipment privately among themselves.
Table 1-"Redistribution Models"-summarizes the advantages and disadvantages of each of these models for the consumer, the nonprofit organization, and the durable medical equipment (DME) dealer.
Partnerships Lead to Success
Successful programs encompass at least one or more partners. New Hampshire's REM works with a network of vendors as an integral part of its operation. It acts as the network's used equipment wholesaler. INH in Pennsylvania was formed through the consolidation of several small recycling programs maintained by disability organizations. These organizations now actively support INH and funnel donations and client referrals to INH. North Carolina's CIO has developed a statewide scope by painstakingly adding local partners to form a regionalized service delivery system.
The AT Recycling Process
All recycling programs need systems for receiving, refurbishing, and distributing items.
Receiving. To encourage donations of usable AT, programs advertise in many different ways. Often, advertisements are placed in community papers and in the yellow pages in local telephone directories. Other unique methods of advertising have been used successfully. For example, New Hampshire's REM distributes stickers that vendors put on new equipment that encourage users to donate the equipment to the REM when they no longer need the devices. Additionally, programs often designate regional centers as drop off places to increase donations and to facilitate transportation of items to a central location.
Programs have learned to be selective in accepting equipment. Programs only take those items that are apt to sell. They have learned to say "no" to items that have a low turnover. (See Figure 1-"How to Avoid Costly AT Mistakes"-developed by the REM.) With limited space, the storage of goods is often a consideration when programs decide what they will accept. Even programs that expand into large warehouse facilities still find that space fills quickly.
The receiving process includes providing the donor with a receipt for the donation. Since recycling programs tend to be operated by nonprofit organizations, donations to the programs can be considered tax deductible. Successful programs have an inventory tracking system, usually one that is computerized and ideally one that uses bar codes to identify items. When donors give large items, such as motorized wheelchairs, the donor is encouraged to provide an operating manual to give to the next owner.
Refurbishing. When items arrive, initial evaluations are conducted to determine the extent of refurbishing that is needed. Minor cleaning and simple repairs are done in-house. For more extensive refurbishing, trained technicians complete the repairs and conduct a final safety check to ensure the item is ready for use. Items are steam cleaned and often shrink-wrapped before they are ready for distribution. When items are sold, the prices for the items include the cost of parts and labor used in the refurbishment.
Some recycling programs incorporate job training or rehabilitation programs into the refurbishing efforts. For example, FODAC employs persons with traumatic brain injury to refurbish equipment as part of their rehabilitation.
Distributing. With most recycling programs, customers can try out items before they are purchased or taken home. Indeed, reuse programs stress the importance of trying out items before buying to avoid abandonment of the equipment. It is an advantage for the customer that reuse programs take in all makes and models of equipment so customers usually have a wide variety from which to choose. Consumers may be unaware of different types of equipment on the market if they work with a dealer that does not carry many models. With more complex items, such as motorized wheelchairs, the recycling program offers the customer instruction on how to use equipment.
Used equipment programs publicize the items that they have available. BIA publishes a catalog that describes each item. To reach diverse audiences, BIA also makes presentations at schools to inform teachers and parents about the program and it uses exhibits at a popular statewide AT exposition to educate the public. Other programs use their Web sites to attract customers. Reuse programs often gather information on their customers to identify the demographics of their client base, but also to ensure that the customer meets any eligibility criteria for their program. For example a recipient of equipment from INH must fall below a certain income level to be eligible to receive free devices. Recycling programs maintain waiting lists for specific items. As an item becomes available, those on the waiting list are notified. The list also serves another important purpose. It indicates to potential sponsors and donors that there is a need for particular items.
Management Aspects of Recycling: Staff, Inventory, Liability, and Funding
Staff. Most programs have some paid staff, usually a program manager, who is responsible for the daily operations of the program, and a technician, who is responsible for refurbishing efforts. For example, the REM employs a technician who is certified to repair the brand names carried by the vendors. Thus any repairs made as part of the refurbishing efforts are completed under the manufacturers specifications and certified by the vendors.
Volunteers are essential to most of the recycling programs. They expand the reach of the program and the activities in which the program can engage. FODAC uses volunteers to drive the van that picks up donations, to operate the thrift store, to help with fundraising, and to refurbish the equipment.
Inventory. Most recycling programs track their inventory using a computerized database. REM uses a bar coding system that allows each item to be easily identified and tracked from receipt to refurbishing to redistribution. The program's Web site allows customers to see what items are available.
CIO found that to keep all its regional partners operating as a team, it needed to have a common database and standard procedures. CIO offers its database free to its regional partners and for purchase to other recycling programs.
Liability. Many of the recycling programs are covered under their own or their host agency's liability
insurance, such as New Jersey's BIA, which is covered under Matheny Hospital's liability insurance. INH tries to limit liability by having the recipient of the equipment sign a release form acknowledging that the equipment is used (see Figure 2-"Pre-Owned Equipment Release.") The REM requires its network of vendors to assume the liability on used equipment that it sells. Since the REM technician is certified to do repairs, the vendors are willing to accept this risk. The used equipment liability is covered under the existing liability policies for their businesses.
Funding. Recycling programs receive funds from several sources including their state's AT program. FODAC conducts several fundraising activities. It operates a thrift store that sells clothing and other used goods. It sponsors an annual golf tournament and an ongoing fundraiser to "own a square foot of FODAC."
REM calculates that its cost of operation is $115,000 per year. Approximately one fourth of this cost is recovered through the sale of refurbished items to vendors. Some funds are received by the direct sale of small items, such as canes and crutches, to customers. A grant from New Hampshire's state AT program provides additional revenue for the program.
Table 1-Redistribution Models
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES TO THE CONSUMER,
NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION, AND DME DEALER
ATECH Services - An Alliance for Assistive Technology, Education and Community Health
Give it away.
Consumer pays nothing.
Disadvantages: No guarantees.
|Disadvantages: Constant fund-raising to support activity.
||Advantages: A place to refer customer who has no money.
Disadvantage: Loss of a potential customer.
|Become a DME.
Disadvantages: Consumer must pay at market - no savings.
|Advantages: Receives more money for equipment.
Disadvantages: Must assume all liability and increased paper- work.
Disadvantages: Other DMEs have a new competitor.
Advantages: Consumer pays less than market.
Disadvantages: Consumer can only get high tech items.
|Advantages: Receives money to cover cost. Greater network to market products to.
Disadvantages: Must still raise additional funds to support over- head.
|Advantages: Can still make a profit and pleases customer.
|Loan it at no cost.
Advantages: No cost to consumer.
Disadvantages: Often no guarantee of the quality of the device. May not be the state of the art.
|Advantages: Meeting a need.Disadvantages: Constant fund- raising to cover overhead. Must track equipment and no guaran-tee equipment will come back. Must refurbish before equipment can be loaned out again; equip-
ment quickly becomes outdated.
|Advantages: No Benefit.
Disadvantages: Loss of a potential customer.
|Incorporate it into an existing redistribution organization: (i.e., Goodwill Industries).
Advantages: Consumer can still save money. One stop shopping for used equipment, furniture, and clothes
Disadvantages: Consumer must travel to the store or location.
|Advantages: Goodwill and other such organizations have name recognition. Has a proven system for refurbishing. Can be a training site for skill development in refurbishing equipment. Larger organizations have the ability to spread the overhead costs.
Disadvantages: Must rely on customer to come to store.
Disadvantages: Another competitor for used equipment.
Figure 1-how to avoid costly at mistakes
by Therese Willkomm, Refurbished Equipment Marketplace
1. Don't accept equipment that will cost more to refurbish than it is worth. Examples of these types of equipment include rusty chairs, chairs with bent frames, broken computer monitors, and computers that come without RAM or hard drives.
2. Don't accept items that are considered hazardous waste and will cost more to dispose of if it is later determined that the items do not work. This equipment includes broken monitors because of non-working cathode tubes, some electronic equipment, equipment that is made with chrome, and expired chemicals.
3. Don't accept low turnover items such as manual hospital beds, fixed walkers, or wheelchairs with fixed arm rests.
4. Don't accept any expired goods.
5. Don't accept items that will require ongoing technical support. You will spend considerable time on the telephone as you try to help troubleshoot a problem.
6. Don't respond to every pickup request that you receive. Ask detailed questions about equipment that is being donated to insure that it is good quality. If possible encourage that the equipment stays wherever it is and that a picture of the equipment or the device is sent. These pictures can be transmitted easily via e-mail to prospective buyers or placed on the Internet.
7. Don't accept equipment that is more than 6 years old. Since the focus of the REM is on good quality equipment and maintaining dignity, older pieces of equipment seldom turn over.
8. Don't become a dumping ground. Learn to say no. If you don't you will pay for it in labor, storage, and disposal costs.
Figure 2-Pre-Owned Equipment release
The undersigned (the "Donor") acknowledges that the Donee has received _________________________________ (the "Equipment") free of charge from ____________________ (the "Donor"). The Donee further acknowledged the Equipment is used equipment, and that the transfer of title to Donee by gift does not involve a sale or marketing of the Equipment.
Donee acknowledges that Donor has warranted that it is transferring good title to the Equipment to the Donee. The undersigned further acknowledges (I) THAT THE DONOR MAKES NO OTHER WARRANTY OF ANY KIND WHATSOEVER AND ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A SPECIFIC PURPOSE ARE HEREBY DISCLAIMED BY DONOR, AND (II) THAT THE DONEE IS ACCEPTING THE EQUIPMENT "AS IS." Some examples of equipment are wheelchairs, walkers, bedside commode chairs, and bath chairs.
Donee, with knowledge that the Equipment has been received free of charge and received subject to above disclaimer of warranties, does hereby release and discharge Donor, its agents, servants, directors, trustees, employees, successors and assigns of and from any and all liability, claims, causes of action, damages or demands of any kind whatsoever in law or in equity, known or unknown, foreseen, or unforeseen, including but not limited to claims for negligence and/or products liability arising out of or in connection with the said Equipment and/or its use. Provided further that Donee shall indemnify and save harmless the Donor, its agents, servants, directors, trustees, employees, successors and assigns against all claims, demands, suits, judgements, and all cost, expenses and counsel fees incurred on account thereof, which are based upon injuries, sickness, disease, or death suffered by Donee or by third parties caused in any manner by said Equipment, and/or arising in whole or in part from any negligent acts or omission of Donee, the Donee's family members, volunteers, agents, servants, employees, directors and/or trustees in relation to said Equipment and/or its use.
Witness: _________________________________ Donee: _________________________________
Rev. 1/95 SLW/eel
Refurbished Equipment Marketplace
The Refurbished Equipment Marketplace (REM) began 5 years ago as part of a nonprofit organization established through the New Hampshire Assistive Technology Partnership located in Concord, New Hampshire. Through the wholesale model, equipment is received by the nonprofit, refurbished, and then sold directly to vendors who sell the equipment to consumers.
"REM uses a wholesale model to sell directly to vendors for several reasons, one is liability," explained Therese Willkomm, Director of REM. "We don't have to assume the liability if equipment should break. The other most important reason is the issue of unfair business practices. If we were to sell this equipment at significantly lower prices than the market, the vendors potentially could accuse us of undercutting their businesses."
"One of our goals for REM is to provide good, quality equipment at affordable prices and often this equipment is 10% the cost of retail," said Willkomm. "It's a significant savings to consumers."
Currently, the REM network consists of 18 vendors. Each vendor pays an annual member fee, which entitles the vendor to buy refurbished items from the REM. Vendors assume the liability for these items as they then sell them to consumers. In 5 years of operation, approximately 4,000 pieces of equipment have been donated and 2,200 have been sold.
REM has gone through a long trial-and-error process to determine what to accept. The decision is based on limited storage space and whether an item is likely to be bought by consumers. REM has established that equipment must be no more than 6 years old. Demand plays a large part in deciding what types of equipment will be accepted. Items in demand include overbed trays, extra wide wheelchairs, hospital beds, power chairs, electric chairs, and power scooters. The cost to refurbish the equipment must be less than the amount for which it will be sold. It does not accept soft goods (catheters, diapers, leg braces), certain medical equipment, or computers.
REM staff question potential donors over the telephone before accepting a piece of equipment. If a computer is donated, REM asks the donor to demonstrate that the computer and monitor work. Donations are received as a result of vendor referrals, ads in home care places, word of mouth, and marketing efforts of the project that encourage donations to the REM. The REM also accepts some items to be placed on consignment by consumers and some of these may lead to the donation of the piece of equipment if the equipment does not sell. REM has a van to pick up items throughout New England and to make occasional deliveries.
REM does not accept broken computer monitors since such monitors are often considered hazardous waste and there is a disposal fee, often as high as $8 per item, to dispose of them safely. The public may think it is doing a service by donating any assistive technology, including computers, and often does not understand that disposal may be costly.
REM now brokers any computer donations to four sources: United Way; Prison Project; the Square Row Institute, which rehabilitates computers for senior citizens; and developing countries. The Prison Project refurbishes computers and redistributes them to schools.
Storage and Refurbishing
Donated equipment is stored in a central location, a barn that the REM turned into a warehouse in Concord, New Hampshire. Because space is limited, REM cannot accept everything that is donated. Also, if an item sits in the warehouse too long it may prevent REM from accepting more quality equipment. Currently the program pays $2 per square foot to rent the warehouse, compared with the going rate of $5.50 per square foot.
When a donation arrives, a triage type of procedure is conducted to determine what needs to be done to a particular item. Volunteers clean items, replace tires, and make minor repairs. A paid technician provides more extensive service. Repairs are made according to industry specifications, and the amount of time taken for repairs is tracked. Labor charges are added to the item's selling price.
Refurbished items are steam cleaned and put in plastic bags. The inventory is tracked with a bar code system and stored in a numbered bin.
REM sells items to vendors in its member network. Vendors set the prices of the devices. REM has been working to have all vendors agree on a standard markup (Medicaid is cost plus 40%). Some vendors have agreed to abide by a standard markup, but they are not obligated to do this. REM has a 30-day return policy. Any item can be returned during this period with no questions asked. REM sets its prices on items based on what the market will bear. Usually a 5-year depreciation schedule is used in setting the price.
Small ticket items, such as canes and crutches, are now sold directly to individuals by REM. These items initially were sold through vendors, but the process involved was too time-consuming, compared to the prices of the items. REM's vendor network determined that REM should sell these items directly to consumers.
REM rents items to vendors, including power scooters, so that potential customers can try out equipment prior to purchase. This reduces abandonment of equipment by customers who find particular items do not work for them.
It also allows individual consumers to offer their devices on consignment through REM. REM receives 25% of the sales price. REM has a Web site that includes pictures of available items, and the site has become a virtual store. Individuals can list their own items on the Web site. The site is located at www.neatexchange.org.
REM also has a thriving AT equipment/device parts business. These parts come from equipment that cannot be refurbished. Parts include casters, tires, rims, controls, motors, battery chargers, and seating systems. These parts are sold to the vendors. Because of storage limitations, REM only stocks 10 of each item.
REM also donates low turnover items to consumers in this country and abroad. For items that are in low demand in this country, for example, fixed walkers that are hard to transport in a car, REM distributes these excess items to developing countries, often through the help of the International Medical Equipment Collaborative (IMEC). Since the partnership was formed, REM has given 1,500 items to IMEC.
Refurbished Equipment Marketplace
Therese Willkomm, Co-Director
New Hampshire AT Partnership Project
Five Right Way Path
Laconia, NH 03301
Web site: www.neatexchange.org
Consolidation of Several Small Programs
Into New Hands
Into New Hands was started in 1994 by a consortium of disability organizations in the western Pennsylvania area. "The consortium pulled all of its existing equipment loan closets and other resources together and formed Into New Hands (INH) at the Center for Independent Living of Southwest Pennsylvania," recalled Kevin Huwe, Project Director of INH. "The other disability specific organizations became referral sources, not only to refer an individual in need of equipment to INH, but also to refer donors who had excess equipment to INH."
INH recycles DME and then gives it away. Ideally, the host independent living center (ILC) tries to assist individuals in obtaining new equipment. However, when that is not possible, due to an immediate need, or lack of funds on the part of the individual, then the recycled equipment is a good stopgap measure to fill the needs of the individuals.
INH receives donations of equipment from many sources. Vendors are asked to donate equipment and parts. Vendors see this as an advantage because their donations are considered tax write-offs. Vendors also see working with INH as a long-term investment toward getting new customers. If an individual with a disability starts with used equipment the first year, often the person becomes a paying customer by purchasing new equipment the next year.
INH does some refurbishing in-house, mainly simple cleaning and readying of equipment. For more extensive refurbishing, INH asks vendors to refurbish equipment and also to transport it to customers.
"I use vendors to refurbish the equipment and transport it to the needed consumer," said Huwe. "They are willing to refurbish equipment for free because they know that they are receiving the referrals for new equipment through me also." Vendors also see that a customer who receives a used piece of equipment and has been happy with its service will come back to the vendor as a paying customer for other items.
Individuals with disabilities who do not have sufficient income, adequate insurance coverage, or other financial backing for assistive technology are eligible to receive preowned equipment through INH.
The primary way that INH distributes equipment is direct giveaway. INH maintains a list of equipment that is needed. It encourages customers to stay on its waiting list to prove that there is a need for that piece of equipment. Every 6 months INH checks with the people on the list to see if they still want to be on it.
A challenge for INH has been the transportation of equipment to the customer. Vendors often supply the needed transportation, but this is still an ongoing issue for INH.
INH assumes liability for its equipment. It uses a liability release form that each agency signs. INH invested a tremendous amount of time in developing the liability release form. While the form may be a helpful tool, INH realizes that the form does not provide an absolute guarantee against possible liability actions.
INH also loans equipment. Recycled equipment is ideal for people moving out of nursing homes. Because these individuals are not able to take the equipment from the nursing homes to their new residences, they need to borrow equipment from INH until their new equipment purchases arrive.
Loans allow a person to try out a piece of equipment. INH receives many donations from individuals who cannot use the equipment because it never fit their needs. A loan helps reduce the likelihood of purchasing the wrong equipment. Loans enable people to try out equipment easily in their homes. A person may have found that a particular piece of equipment worked well in the hospital, but until they try it at home the individual will not know if it works in this setting. For example, an extended bath bench may work fine in a large hospital bathroom but not function properly in a small home bathroom.
Loans also can be arranged through a statewide equipment loan library. Library branches are available throughout Pennsylvania. If a person needs to borrow a TTY, he or she may do so through the INH; or a statewide program will provide a TTY as a loan or on a permanent basis.
Into New Hands
Kevin Huwe, Assistive Technology Coordinator
7110 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15208
Outreach is Key
Back In Action
The first goal of Matheny Hospital's Back In Action (BIA) assistive technology recycling program is to publicize the availability of its program components. BIA consists of a recycling program, an AT exchange program, and an equipment loan program. BIA publicizes its services through having a toll free number, distributing its catalog, placing ads in the local newspapers, and using public service announcements (PSAs) on local radio stations. Phone calls are tracked to make sure word is getting out to all regions of the state. Results of calls are analyzed to determine who receives the news and how they found out about the program. Then staff determines how best to increase the awareness activities.
"Initially the whole focus of what we were trying to do was simply to get the word out about the program, primarily through distributing copies of our catalog of recycled equipment," said Dan O'Neill, Project Director of BIA. "Now we are focusing our efforts a little better. We don't send the catalog out in multiple copies. But we have found it effective to send the catalog to every politician, including the governor, so that they can offer their constituents this service and get the name out about the program."
Even though Matheny Hospital has conducted several publicity campaigns, people are still unaware of the program. To increase awareness BIA staff give presentations to professional organizations. For example, these presentations have been made to school districts to encourage them to share the information with parents and students.
BIA exhibits yearly at the Abilities Expo, a large AT fair that occurs in early April each year in New Jersey. At this fair, major manufacturers show their new products. BIA, however, wants to attract people looking for secondary pieces of equipment. For example, customers may want a second chair but are not eligible for one through a public or private funding source. Or they may not meet third party funders' criteria for a power wheelchair but need some sort of power assistance.
BIA primarily serves New Jersey, although some sales, donations, and loans are from New York and Pennsylvania. The most popular items are architectural elements, such as portable ramps. Computers and personal care items, such as transfer benches are also popular. Mobility devices and transportation items are big sellers. The three components of BIA's program, a recycling program, an AT exchange program, and an equipment loan program will be discussed in this section.
For BIA's recycling program, much of the equipment that the agency recycles is not necessarily at the BIA facility. It remains with the donor until it is sold. However the equipment that is brought in to the center is inspected and a determination made as to whether or not it will be fixed up.
"We don't necessarily deal with cosmetic items, new arm pads and such," said O'Neill. "The main focus of that assessment is really individual safety. The technician looks for safety items. Is the frame of the device/equipment structurally sound? If we feel that a piece of equipment can be refurbished cost effectively and will be safe, then that equipment is refurbished. If it is refurbished, the cost to repair it is included in the sale price of the item." For large items, BIA provides on-site training before the buyer leaves with the item. If an owner's manual is available, this is passed on to the new owner.
Items to be recycled or exchanged are listed in the BIA catalog. This catalog contains a brief description of the item including the make, model, and size. The catalog is kept updated with items listed for 1 year. Expensive items, such as a van or house, are listed for a longer period of time.
The BIA staff answer phone calls regarding the items in the catalog. Calls are returned within 2 business days. Often callers refer to a specific item and the BIA staff member provides information about the item and supplies the seller's first name and telephone number. Each seller must sign a release form before BIA staff can give out the seller's name and phone number. After the potential buyer contacts the seller and a match has been made, the seller calls Matheny Hospital and the item is taken out of the database.
Back in Action
Meghan Voit, Project Manager
Matheny School and Hospital
P. O Box 339 Main Street
Peapack, NJ 07977
(800) 554-2626 (In state)
Web site: http://www.matheny.org/backinaction
Volunteers as a Key Component of a Recycling Program
Friends of Disabled Adults and Children
Ed Butchart started the nonprofit organization Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC) in 1987 as a mission ministry of Mount Carmel Christian Church in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Butchart's goal was to offer a variety of services to persons with physical and mobility impairments. FODAC was started with a small collection of wheelchairs. The program has grown immensely over the years and is now housed in a 74,000 sq ft warehouse with a staff of 30 people. Last year it distributed, free of charge, 5,300 wheelchairs, hospital beds, and other devices. Volunteers refurbish most of the equipment.
All equipment is provided with a "life-time" guarantee. "As long as FODAC is alive it is guaranteed," said Butchart, founder and president of FODAC. Recipients may trade in or bring in any item, including non-FODAC items, for repair at any time.
FODAC recycles equipment, primarily used mobility and home health care equipment. The equipment is repaired and refurbished and provided, at no charge, to anyone who needs it. Items available include wheelchairs, canes, crutches, hospital beds, bathroom equipment and other special need items.
FODAC provides other services besides recycled equipment. It provides free, accessible transportation to essential places for individuals who use wheelchairs. This service is provided on a first-come, first-served basis. This service has some built-in limitations of time and distance but as many people as possible are served.
FODAC collaborates with the Traumatic Brain Injury Community Reentry Program, a program that has been in operation since 1992. FODAC offers a post-medical rehabilitation setting that has proven to be extremely effective in developing confidence, self-esteem, and new job skill levels among survivors of traumatic brain injuries.
FODAC does not refuse any requests for assistance and many organizations serving people overseas are helped. FODAC wheelchairs currently are rolling in 51 countries as well as 34 states. In its history, FODAC has provided $18.3 million in equivalent retail value of services and has spent only $2.6 million in operating funds. That means that for every dollar spent in operating costs, $6.85 in services have been provided.
Most of the refurbishing is accomplished by volunteers and a continuous effort is made to recruit volunteers of all ages from Boy Scouts to senior citizens. Community service workers from the county systems also are used effectively to perform many tasks.
Volunteers have assisted with several activities that generate funds for the ministry. They operate the FODAC thrift store, assist with fundraisers, and help with the operation of the program. They have assisted with the annual golf tournament, which raises additional funds for the program. Volunteers also build ramps and make other small modifications to homes.
Funds are sought from any available sources. FODAC operates a Thrift Store (located in its building), which provides about 40% of FODAC's operating costs. Churches provide about 27%, individuals about 15%, and corporations and foundations provide the rest. Fund-raising events such as a golf tournament, gospel singing, fishing tournament, and a raffle for a new car also are held annually.
Friends of Disabled Adults and Children
Ed Butchart, Executive Director
4900 Lewis Road
Stone Mountain, GA 30083
Web site: http://www.fodac.org
Local Centers Facilitate Equipment Loan Program
The North Carolina Assistive Technology Project integrated short-term and long-term loan and recycling efforts into one program through the use of regional centers located throughout the state. Currently 17 agencies are involved, through 32 participating sites, in the Check-It-Out Project (CIO). Of these 17, 7 are Developmental Disability Councils or Woman's and Children's Health Centers, 5 are regional North Carolina Assistive Technology Programs, and 5 are rehabilitation hospitals. In 1997 and 1998, 1,300 loans were made from a pool of 19,000 items. Each local agency develops its own loan policies regarding what is loaned, who can receive a loan, and the length of time an item is loaned.
"We started this program six years ago by linking existing equipment and recycling programs. We discovered that all the different agencies were willing to participate if they retained local control of their equipment. That was fine with us. We didn't want to take away their equipment, we just wanted to share information statewide," explained Sonya Van Horn, Project Coordinator for North Carolina's CIO Project.
To aid information sharing, CIO provided local agencies with a common database to track the equipment inventory and to generate reports. The Project trained agency staff on how to use the database, how to manage inventory, and how to access the common Internet site.
Common forms are used by the agencies to gather vendor information, record the loan history of each piece of equipment, and track borrowers. Consistent formats were developed for handling internal records and sharing loan inventory information across the state. The database is used to produce reports on equipment that is overdue, what equipment is currently on loan, demographic information regarding the location of the equipment, and the number of times each type of equipment is loaned. These reports guide the purchase of equipment that is in demand.
"We generally treat recycled equipment as a long-term loan so the equipment stays with the person as long as it is needed and being used," said Van Horn.
The CIO Web site (http://www.check-it-out.org) is popular with users. It offers 24-hour access to the database of equipment. The Web site links all the local agencies together. Loan requests can be generated on-line. A Web search engine allows potential borrowers to browse the collections of all the agencies.
A calendar of training events is included on the Web site. The Web page received 21,000 hits in the last year. Plans are underway to increase access features to the Web page for people with low vision and to add photographs of the various equipment items.
Sonya Van Horn, Regional Consultant
North Carolina Assistive Technology Project
Department of Health and Human Services
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services
1110 Navaho Drive, Suite 101
Raleigh, NC 27609-7322
Web site: http://www.check-it-out.org
RESNA Technical Assistance Project
1700 North Moore Street, Suite 1540
Arlington, VA 22209-1903
703-524-6686 (V), 703-524-6639 (TTY)
This publication is available in alternative formats.
The RESNA Technical Assistance Project, Grant #H224A50006, is an activity funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), U.S. Department of Education (ED), under the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988, as amended. The information contained herein does not necessarily reflect the position or policy of NIDRR/ED or the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA), and no official endorsement of the materials should be inferred.
RESNA is an interdisciplinary association of people with a common interest in technology and disability. RESNA is the grantee funded under the Tech Act to provide technical assistance and information to the Tech Act projects.