Assistive Technology (AT) devices are generally defined as any item, piece of equipment, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities; i.e., anyone who is or would be enabled by an AT device or an AT service to minimize deterioration in functioning, to maintain a level of functioning, or to achieve a greater level of functioning in any major life activity. Some examples of AT devices; vehicle modifications, including wheelchair lifts a nd hand controls; electronic lifting devices; assistive listening devices, including hearing aids and personal FM units; home modifications, including wheelchair, lifts and hand controls; electronic lifting devices; assistive listening devices, including hearing aids and personal FM units; home modifications, home modifications, including ramps, lifts and stair glides; environmental control devices; specialized car seat and strollers; computers and specialized software. Examples of AT services include customizing, adapting, repairing or replacing an AT device; proving training or technical assistance for individuals with disabilities, their families and the professionals who work with them.
Assistive Technology may significantly improve the quality of life of individuals with disabilties. For adults, they may make the difference between being able to live independently in the community and requiring care in an institution. For children, they may make the difference between succeeding and failing in school. Despite these crucial advantages, the issue of how and by whom such devices are paid for can result in delay or denial of AT services. Possible funding sources to consider include Medicaid or Medicare; private health insurance; and the school district.
For a child with disabilities entitled to a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), assistive technology may be a necessary part of the special education and related services which must be provided without cost to the child's family pursuant to an individualized education plan (IEP). The decision of whether a child needs AT devices or services ia made by the IEP team, which includes the parents. If you believe your child needs AT devices to benefit from his or her education, you should ask for an AT evaluation before the IEP meeting. If a decision is made that AT devices or services are needed, they must be written into the IEP itself. If your child's AT needs are being denied or ignored by DCPS, please contact Shawn Highland at (202) 547-0198, ext. 141 or send her an e-mail at email@example.com.
Although Medicare/Medicaid does not use the term "assistive technology", many items which come within the definition of "assistive technology" are considered "durable medical equipment". If these items are determined to be "medically necessary", they should be covered. If you or someone you know is Medicare/Medicaid elgibile but has been denied assistive technology/durable medical equipment by the Medical Assistance Administration, please contact Shaw Highland at (202) 547-0198, ext. 141 or send her an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information visit the Assistive Technology website at www.atpdc.org.
ULS-AT makes every effort to provide effective rights-related advocacy for meritorious cases. However, if any individual is not satisfied with ULS-AT's actions, he or she has the right to bring a complaint to the Executive Director of ULS. A copy of the agency's greivance policy is available. This policy tells what must be done to file a complaint.