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Assistive Technology Acts ​

Categories: Technology

President Barrack Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 on July 22, 2014. In doing so, he reauthorized certain assistive technology programs first established under the Technology-Related Assistance Act (Tech Act) of 1988 (Public Law 100-407) signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.

The Tech Act was a forerunner to the Assistive Technology (AT) Act of 2004, which defined an assistive technology device as “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.” The AT Act also defined assistive technology services as “any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device.” The Tech Act authorized funding for states to conduct needs assessments and develop and implement a consumer responsive system of technology-related assistance. State AT Programs are required to serve all people with all types of disabilities, regardless of age.

The Assistive Technology (AT) Act amended the Tech Act in 1994 (Public Law 103-218) and was reauthorized again in 1998 (Public Law 105-394) and in 2004 (Public Law 108-364). The AT Act of 2004 reauthorized the AT programs in all states and territories and set forth a core set of program services to increase program consistency across the country. At least 60 percent of the funds received by each state AT program must support the following activities:

  • State financing activities
  • Device reutilization programs
  • Device loan programs
  • Device demonstration programs

A maximum of 40 percent of the state’s federal allocation can be used for the following required activities:

  • Training and Technical Assistance
  • General awareness
  • Skills-development training
  • Use and application training
  • Assessment and implementation training

Under the law, AT services include:

  • The evaluation of the AT needs of an individual with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the impact of appropriate AT;
  • Purchasing, leasing or otherwise providing for the acquisition of AT devices; selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, replacing or donating AT devices;
  • Coordination and use of necessary therapies, interventions or services with AT devices such as therapies, interventions or services associated with education and rehabilitation plans and programs;
  • Training or technical assistance for an individual with a disability or, where appropriate family members, guardians, etc.;
  • Training or technical assistance for professionals, employers, providers of employment and training services, or other individuals who provide services to, employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of individuals with disabilities; and
  • A service that expands the availability of technology to individuals with disabilities.