Assistive Technology

The Assistive Technology Act of 2004 states that "Technology is one of the primary engines for economic activity, education, and innovation in the Nation, and throughout the world. The commitment of the United States to the development and utilization of technology is one of the main factors underlying the strength and vibrancy of the economy of the United States."

For individuals with disabilities, assistive technology (AT) improves access to education, employment, independent living, recreation and participation in the community.

TEDx - Disability Technology - Jeff Paradee

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TEDTalk - Deep sea diving ... in a wheelchair - Sue Austin

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Assistive Technology (AT) and AT services provide vital supports to individuals with disabilities. If you, or someone you know, is having difficulty securing needed assistive technology, please contact the intake unit at Disability Rights Florida! These videos share the journeys of different individuals who utilize many different types of AT.

Learn about Matthew's AT:

  

Learn about Victor's AT:

 

Read recent stories about Assistive Technology in our latest Annual Reports!

  • 2018 Annual Report (PDF)

    • ​Justin Aucoin is a student with Cerebral Palsy who uses a wheelchair to assist him in his day-to-day tasks. However, Justin was experiencing severe pain from a constant sitting position and required the assistance of another person to allow him to use standing equipment to alleviate the pain. This method was not effective, and his physician prescribed him a sit-to-stand wheelchair, which would not only alleviate this pain, but also grant him more independence in school and life by allowing him the ability to move to a standing position on his own. The sit-to-stand wheelchair was denied by Medicaid based on a finding by eQHealth Solutions that the equipment was not medically necessary for him. Justin’s parent contacted Disability Rights Florida seeking representation for a fair hearing to appeal eQHealth’s determination. We represented Justin, which ended in a favorable final order. As a result, Justin was approved for the sit-to-stand wheelchair and applied for it through the help of Disability Rights Florida. Justin now has the sit-to-stand wheelchair and is very grateful towards Disability Rights Florida for all that was done to help him. With the access of this extremely beneficial wheelchair, Justin is able to be more independent in his classroom, move positions on his own, build and stretch his muscles, alleviate pain by standing, and participate in more activities.

  • 2017 Annual Report (PDF)

    • ​Aaron Pfuhl was riding his motorcycle when a driver that was under the influence crashed into him, resulting in an amputation to his right leg above the knee. Aaron obtained a prosthetic leg through insurance but it only met general requirements to allow him to walk. Aaron is a supervisor at a construction company and a K4 level amputee, so he needs a prosthetic designed for someone who is athletic, provides a natural gait, and offers extremely good balance. Aaron’s physician recommended a new prosthesis with a microprocessor knee. However, the insurance company denied the request. In August 2017, Aaron reached out to Disability Rights Florida about his need for the specialized limb. Although he had initially met with Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) six months earlier, policy guidelines were not followed and he was informed he could not receive services. Disability Rights Florida referred Aaron back to DVR for a formal determination of eligibility. He was assigned a new counselor who provided home, office and vehicle evaluations. Aaron worked with his DVR counselor and Disability Rights Florida so that approval of the state of the art prosthesis could be expedited. DVR will also be providing guidance to staff to prevent the type of situation Aaron initially experienced in his first attempt to apply.

  • 2016 Annual Report (PDF)

    • ​Disability Rights Florida was contacted by Alexis Cabrera, an individual with Usher’s Syndrome who is deaf and blind. He needed assistance with the delay of services provided by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Division of Blind Services. Following our investigation, Disability Rights Florida negotiated for the Division of Blind Services to provide Alexis with useful assistive technology such as communication devices, a new walking cane and a money identifier. The advocate assisted his counselors in searching for employment opportunities specific to Alexis’s needs. His desire was to move to a city with a larger deaf-blind community. Disability Rights Florida assisted him during the employment application process and helped facilitate a smooth transition from Florida to Seattle when he was offered a full-time position at the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind. Alexis currently resides in Seattle and is appreciative of the services provided by Disability Rights Florida, as he was able to obtain competitive employment and a better quality of life.

 

Visit our other Disability Topics pages to read about access to assistive technology services and devices through special education, Medicaid, Vocational Rehabilitation, Blind Services, or other programs.

If you need further information or support, you may request assistance from Disability Rights Florida.

AT Act of 2004

The importance of assistive technology (AT) is at the heart of the Assistive Technology Act of 2004.

The AT Act promotes awareness and access to assistive technology devices and services.

The AT Act envisions that assistive technology will allow individuals with disabilities to fully participate in education, employment, health coverage and access to government services and businesses.

Congress found that over 54,000,000 individuals in the United States have disabilities, with almost half experiencing severe disabilities that affect their ability to see, hear, communicate, reason, walk, or perform other basic life functions.

Congress noted that disability is a natural part of the human experience and in no way diminishes the right of individuals to live independently; enjoy self-determination and make choices; benefit from an education; pursue meaningful careers; and enjoy full inclusion and integration in the economic, political, social, cultural, and educational mainstream of society in the United States.

In passing the AT Act, Congress stated that technology is one of the primary engines for economic activity, education, and innovation in the Nation, and throughout the world.

To access the entire AT Act, visit the Links tab of this Disability Topic.

Definitions

The AT Act defines "AT device" and "AT service" as follows:

AT Device

AT Device is 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. Some examples are durable medical equipment such as lifts, wheelchairs, speech communication devices, devices for hearing and vision, aids for daily living or recreation, etc.

AT devices are used for:

  • communication
  • mobility
  • hearing 
  • seeing
  • reading 
  • writing

And to assist with:

  • household activities
  • participation in play or recreation
  • personal care
  • therapy or medical treatment
  • the use of public/private transportation
  • employment
  • school /learning

 

AT Service

AT Service is any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology service such as an evaluation of AT needs, customizing, maintaining, repairing, or replacing AT devices.

Links

Visit these websites for more information and resources:

Florida and Federal Laws and Rules

Florida Department of Education

Florida Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services Policies

Florida Resources

  • The Florida Alliance for Assistive Technology and Services (FAAST) is the AT Act program in Florida, funded by Congress to increase access to and acquisition of assistive technology and services.Services include assistive technology financing for qualified borrowers, information and referral, device demonstrations and device lending, equipment reutilization, training and education and public awareness.  Visit a Regional Demonstration Center or Satellite Partner location. 1-888-788-9216.
  • The Centers for Independent Living (CILs) are private, nonprofit corporations that provide services to maximize the independence of individuals with disabilities and the accessibility of the communities they live in. Centers provide, among other things, several core services: advocacy, independent living skills training, information and referral, peer counseling, and some may offer short term loans of equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, and canes, as well as information on ramps and home modification.
  • The Bureau of Braille and Talking Book Library at the Division of Blind Services provides free services to individuals who have difficulty reading print due to a visual problem, a reading disability, or difficulty holding a book due to a physical disability. This bureau also administers the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) program, which allows high speed internet download of books and magazines to a computer.
  • The Florida Telecommunications Relay, Inc. (FTRI) provides free equipment such as amplified phones, captioned phones to individuals who qualify due to a hearing loss. FTRI offers a variety of amplified telephones to meet the needs of people with a mild, moderate, or severe hearing loss.
  • The Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resource System (FDLRS) of the Florida Department of Education provides diagnostic, instructional and technology support services to district exceptional education programs and families and students with disabilities including the area of assistive technology.

National Resources