Assistive Technology (AT)

The Assistive Technology Act of 2004 supports “programs of grants to States to address the assistive technology needs of individuals with disabilities and for other purposes” such as expanding public awareness, research and development of AT, state training and technical assistance and data collection and reporting.

The following definitions are used in the Act:

  • “Assistive technology” is “technology designed to be utilized in an assistive technology device or assistive technology service.” 
  • ”Assistive technology device” means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.
  • “Assistive technology service” means any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition or use of an assistive technology device including:
    • the evaluation of the assistive technology needs of an individual with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the impact of the provision of appropriate assistive technology and appropriate services to the individual in the customary environment of the individual;
    • purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by individuals with disabilities;
    • selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, replacing, or donating assistive technology devices;
    • coordination and use of necessary therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology 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, the family members, guardians, advocates, or authorized representatives of such an individual;
    • training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals providing education and rehabilitation services and entities that manufacture or sell assistive technology devices), 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
    • expanding the availability of access to technology, including electronic and information technology, to individuals with disabilities.

Each state has an Assistive Technology Program to serve residents who need help with selecting, acquiring, or using AT devices. The AT Program in Florida is known as FAAST, Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology. In addition, the Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System (FDLRS) provides technology support services to district Exceptional Student Education programs and families of students with disabilities.

Florida Resources

Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST)
Serves Florida residents who need help with selecting, acquiring, or using Assistive Technology (AT) devices. FAAST’s mission is to improve the quality of life for all Floridians with disabilities through advocacy and awareness activities that increase access to and acquisition of assistive services and technology. Services include an AT loan service, six regional demonstration centers, searchable databases for AT providers and subsidized housing, publications and more.

Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System (FDLRS)
Provides diagnostic, instructional and technology support services to district Exceptional Student Education programs and families of students with disabilities via 19 service centers. Additional statewide and regional services support the use of assistive technology, instructional technology, Universal Design for Learning and more.

General Self-Help Resource Guide to Assist Students with Disabilities Who are Not in Special Education but Are Eligible to Receive Reasonable Accommodations and Auxiliary Aids and Services Pursuant to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (pdf)
A comprehensive 14-page self-help resource guide available online from the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST). Additional resources are available in FAAST's online library.

National Resources

Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs (ATAP)
National, member-based organization of state Assistive Technology Act Programs that promotes the national network of AT Programs, facilitates coordination of state AT Programs nationally and provides technical assistance and support to its members in order to enhance their effectiveness.

Family Center on Technology and Disability
Provides free assistive and instructional technology resources of interest to families of children with disabilities including a searchable database of resource reviews, newsletters, online conferences, a family guide to AT, fact sheets, success stories, resources in Spanish, and more. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs.

National Center on Accessible Information Technology in Education
Promotes the use of electronic and information technology (E&IT) for students and employees with disabilities in educational institutions at all academic levels. Resources include a searchable database of questions and answers, archived training events and videos, an accessibility checklist and more.

NICHCY’s Assistive Technology Act Page
Provides links to numerous AT resources including the Act itself, summaries of the Act and resource links relating to AT.Note: the NICHCY Website will terminate on September 30, 2014.

Quality Indicators for AT Services (QIAT)Consortium
Provides input for identifying, disseminating and implementing Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology Services in School Settings that support the work of school districts, AT providers, AT consumers, university and professional AT developers and policymakers.

Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA)
Membership organization of clinicians, therapists, researchers, developers, computer scientist and other professionals who work in assistive technologies. Provides continuing education opportunities, certification programs, online communities, publications, resources and more.

Reference

P.L. 108-364 Assistive Technology Act of 2004, §3, (3), (4), (5)
Available at https://www.ataporg.org/ATActSummary