Assistive Technology

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

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 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.

Types of AT

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

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 Assistive Technology Project - Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc. National Assistive Technology Advocacy Project – Explore this cutting edge resource for all things AT – AT in the Courts, AT Advocate Newsletters, FAQ series and much more!

Other Resources

  • AbleData provides objective information on assistive technology and rehabilitation equipment available from domestic and international sources to consumers, organizations, professionals, and caregivers within the United States. AbleData is sponsored by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), part of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) of the U.S. Department of Education.

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