Assistive Technology Funding Guide
Disability Information and Referral Center (DIRC)
Sources of Funding
Sources of Discounted/Used/On-Loan Technology
Sources for Information
Specific Programs to Provide Technology
Books Available On Loan from the DIRC
Related DIRC Fact Sheets
Assistive Technology Funding Guide - PDF Version
NOTE: This guide primarily covers general information on and funding for computer technology and equipment. Many of the sources also feature information on and funding for other types of assistive technology (AT) and durable medical equipment (DME). Products and services included within are not part of the Texas Talking Book Program (TBP) or the Disability Information and Referral Center (DIRC), and their listing does not imply endorsement.
A. National Funding Sources:
Association of Blind Citizens
The Assistive Technology Fund provides funds to cover fifty percent of the retail price of adaptive devices or software, including digital audio book players. The products covered by this program must retail for a minimum of $200 and a maximum retail price of $6,000. Persons eligible to apply for assistance must have a family income of less than $50,000 and cash assets of less than $20,000. The organization features two grant periods per year: June 30th and December 31st. Use the form on the website to apply.
Internet Essentials Program / Comcast
This program offers broadband Internet service for $9.95 per month, free Internet training, and the opportunity to purchase a low-cost (about $150) netbook or desktop computer. Qualified applicants must live in an area where Comcast is available, and also must have at least one child enrolled in a free school lunch program. Other requirements apply. The program is currently available in 39 states, including Texas.
There are multiple Kiwanis Clubs in every state. They provide assistance to children with disabilities and health conditions.
Lions Clubs Assistance / International Association of Lions Clubs
Many Lions Clubs provide vocational assistance to persons who are legally blind. The international office refers requests for equipment or other assistance to the appropriate district offices.
National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program
Provides outreach, assessments, telecommunications technology and training free of charge to those who meet federal eligibility guidelines
Mission Road Developmental Center
4630 Hamilton Wolfe RD
San Antonio, Texas 78229
The Social Security Administration's PASS Program
For people receiving SSI or SSDI
SSA has ten regional offices and local offices in most major cities in the US. Call the toll free number or visit the website to learn more about the eligibility requirements and benefits for persons who are visually impaired or disabled. Recipients must also have limited financial resources.
United Cerebral Palsy – Bellows Fund:
Provides financial assistance for the purchase of computer equipment, wheelchairs, lifts, or hearing aids
This assistance is only available through UCP affiliates. Clients registered with the United Cerebral Palsy Association are recommended by their caseworkers. UCP assists individuals with a variety of disabilities, not just cerebral palsy.
Other Possible Sources of National Funding:
**See “Foundation Center”
Private Health Insurance
Wish Fulfillment Groups
B. State Funding Sources:
Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS)
State umbrella agency that offers services for children and adults with mental disabilities, as well as comprehensive services for elderly individuals
Texas operates twenty-eight area Agencies on Aging for information in local areas. To locate one near you visit:
Department of State Health Services (DSHS)
888-963-7111 or 512-776-7111,
State umbrella organization that encompasses the Texas Department of Health and mental health services among other departments
**See also DSHS Library under “State Sources for Information”
A non-profit organization in the Houston area that distributes donated computer hardware and software to persons who are low income and/or have disabilities
Double Click Program
A program through Easter Seals that provides opportunities for people with disabilities to purchase reasonably priced refurbished computers. The program is run through the Central Texas Easter Seals office, but anyone with a disability in Texas is eligible to apply.
Head and Heart Foundation
Flower Mound, TX
A non-profit organization that provides computer hardware and technical assistance to individuals with severe physical disabilities in the Dallas / Fort Worth area
Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC)
Early Childhood Intervention, Blind Children’s Program, Deaf/Hard of Hearing Services, and the STAP program are now part of HHSC.
Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program (STAP) is a voucher program that provides financial assistance to Texans with disabilities for the purchase of specialized assistive equipment or services in order to use a telephone. For more information, including a link to the application, visit: http://legacy.hhsc.state.tx.us/dhhs/stap.shtml
Independent Living Centers (ILCs)
Contact the center in your area for information and referral, programs, and access to technology and other services.
Contact the Texas Education Agency (TEA) or your local school district for information.
Texas Workforce Commission (TWC)
Individuals who are employed, who are seeking employment, or who are transitioning from high school to college or employment and need assistive technology should contact TWC.
Tech and Trainers
A Houston-based organization that works with local agencies to provide basic computer systems to persons with disabilities
Those in need should contact their social worker or local community organization. Computers are not free, but are low-cost.
Texas Elks Children's Services Inc
The Elks have lodges in many cities in Texas. The Special Grants Program provides funding for assistive devices for eligible children in Texas.
United States Veterans Administration
The VA is a national governmental organization with state and local contacts. You have to be a veteran to be eligible for the services provided.
Texas office: Texas Veterans Commission Headquarters
800-252-VETS (8387) or 512-463-5538,
A. National Technology Sources:
Disabled Dealer: www.disableddealer.com
Disabled Dealer is both an Internet site and a magazine that offers individuals the opportunity to buy and sell new and used adaptive equipment. The magazine does not have a base in Texas, but the web site is accessible to Texans with disabilities.
This organization partners with businesses to provide many products and services, including assistive technology, to recipients in need.
Muscular Dystrophy Association:
Operates local loan closets, by which registered patients may borrow items such as wheelchairs, scooters, communication devices, computers, and lifts
National Cristina Foundation (NCF)
NCF provides computer technology and solutions to give people with disabilities, students at risk, and the economically disadvantaged the opportunity, through training, to lead more independent and productive lives. NCF matches the donated computer technology to one or more of its partner organizations in the geographic area where the equipment is located.
More National Sources:
Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation: www.meaf.org/
A small foundation, the mission of the MEA Foundation is to contribute to a better world for us all by helping young people with disabilities, through technology, to maximize their potential and participation in society. Starfish Grants are approved by the Board of Directors, in consultation with experts in the fields of disability and education, to benefit young people with disabilities throughout the country.
B. State Technology Sources:
AGE of Central Texas / Health Equipment Lending Program
Provides DME equipment on loan to Texas residents
Computers for the Blind
When possible, the organization provides refurbished computers and software, with a $110 donation for a desktop and $130 for a laptop, and training for persons with visual impairments.
Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind
Serving Our Seniors Program
Contact: Vilma Dennis
This program offers a CCTV lending service. Used and refurbished CCTV’s are loaned to seniors within an eleven county area after an in-home evaluation. Only a few CCTV’s are available each year, so there is a waiting list.
DME Exchange of Dallas
Collects, restores, and distributes DME equipment to needy individuals in the Dallas area
Drive a Senior – Faith in Action Caregivers:
Currently nine caregiver groups exist in the Austin area and surrounding communities. These organizations assist the elderly by providing telephone support, transportation to doctor appointments and grocery stores, minor home repairs, and in some cases, medical equipment provided on loan, such as walkers and shower chairs. A list of the groups can be found here: https://driveasenior.org/#netmap
Good Wheelchairs / The Human Potential Center
Offers low cost, gently used wheelchairs, power chairs, and scooters. Serves the Central Texas area, Dallas, Waco, and possibly other areas
Goodwill Computer Works
Goodwill accepts donations of computers to be used in a training program for job skills in computers and computer repair. The computers are sold at discounted prices at the Goodwill Store.
Rainbow Senior Health Center
Home Health Closet
Provides DME equipment, and wheelchairs and scooters on a limited basis, on loan to individuals in the Boerne area
RESNA AT Device Reuse Programs (State)
Children’s Special Needs Network
254-933-7597, 254-933-7213, or 800-600-3940
Serves children and adults from across the state
Medical Equipment Network for those w/Disabilities (MEND)
San Antonio, TX
210-223-6363 or 888-903-6363
Provides donated DME (durable medical equipment) Items are repaired, refurbished, and sanitized.
Also provides $500 loans for assistive devices for veterans
Reach of Denton Resource Center on Independent Living
Loans mobility and vision-related equipment
NOTE: Currently, the state of Texas does not participate in RESNA Device Loan Programs, or State Financing Programs.
Texas Technology Access Program (TTAP)
512-232-0740 or 800-828-7839
TTAP has an assistive technology device loan program designed to meet the needs of persons not served by existing agency loan programs. This program will allow persons with disabilities, their families, educators, service providers and employers to borrow AT devices for six weeks and may be renewed if the device has not been requested by another borrower. This service is free and is available to anyone in Texas that meets the qualifications.
A. National Information Sources:
Ability Hub: http://abilityhub.org/
This website will direct the user to sources of adaptive computer equipment and alternative methods available for accessing computers.
Provides computerized searches for assistive devices, products and equipment
Searches include distributor information and product descriptions. Fact sheets and information on catalogs are also available. The database can be searched from the ABLEDATA web site.
Accessible Technology Coalition
A part of the Center for Accessible Technology, which is based in California, the AT Coalition is an online AT resource. With a free membership, individuals can attend free webinars, ask experts questions by email, and have access to an online AT database.
AFB TECH: A Division of the American Foundation for the Blind
Product search: www.afb.org/prodmain.aspx
Product Evaluations: AccessWorld: www.afb.org/aw/accessworld.aspx
In addition, explanations of and sources for specific assistive technology are available on the main website for the American Foundation for the Blind.
Apple – Special Needs
Outlines the accessibility features that are offered in the Mac operating system
Sections are provided for vision, hearing, physical/motor, literacy/learning, and language and communication information.
Blind Bargains: www.blindbargains.com
Information on good deals on the Internet for a variety of products for the blind, including technology
The Center for Assistive Technology & Environmental Access (CATEA) / Georgia Institute of Technology
Source for information pertaining to disability and computer access
Provides technology related services to persons with disabilities and distributes information packets upon request. Web site contains product and manufacturer information and Internet links.
Center on Technology and Disability
“The Institute [online] comprises a Library of multi-media, multi-lingual resources; a Café that offers both topical and audience-specific discussions; and a Learning Center that makes available leading experts in the field.”
Closing the Gap
Provides information relating to computer technology, special education, and rehabilitation. Web site features a Resource Guide, which is also published in the February/March issue of the Closing the Gap newspaper. The issue may be purchased separately, or as part of a subscription.
Early Childhood Technical Assistance System (ECTAS)
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
Provides information on Early Intervention Programs (from birth to age 5), and who to contact in your state for more information.
The Foundation Center
Maintains a comprehensive database on foundation and corporate giving programs for both individuals and organizations
Publishes directories and guides and assists with grant application procedures.
There are Funding Information Network locations in Texas.
Microsoft Accessibility Technology for Everyone
A comprehensive site for information regarding Microsoft’s emphasis on accessibility
Sections include step-by-step tutorials, guides by impairment, products and support, and free subscriptions of the Accessibility Update e-newsletter.
National Federation of the Blind
410-659-9314, option 5, https://nfb.org/technology-center
Provides information and answers questions concerning adaptive equipment and assistive technology. Website features lists of sources for specific kinds of technology as well as advice on what to purchase. The International Braille and Technology Center, part of NFB, maintains a telephone hotline to answer questions regarding technology.
National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC)
Provides access to resources for employment, advocacy, benefits and financial assistance, education, technology, and more
Simon Technology Center
Free and for cost brochures, handouts, and presentations regarding assistive technology
Information on funding for communication devices
Rehab Tool: www.rehabtool.com/at.html
Offers information on assistive technology, and provides a library of links.
RESNA Technical Assistance Project
Administers the state assistive technology projects that provide assistive technology-related services
Services can include information and referrals, demonstration and training, and guidance in obtaining funding.
**See also Texas Technology Access Project.
Information on assistive technology, plus a blog and a resource for donating used technology.
Online search tool to find products, either by subject, or by learning support.
Trace Research and Development Center
University of Maryland
Features sections for information on disabilities, assistive technology, government regulations, universal design, and web accessibility
B. State Information Sources:
Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Audiovisual Library
800-963-7111 ext 7260 or 512-776-7260
Maintains a library of books and videos on disability and health related topics. Also features information on grant resources in Texas.
Six local offices for Easter Seals operate in Texas. Staff assists in locating both assistive technology and available funding sources.
Easter Seals Greater Houston
Three locations in the Houston and surrounding areas provide demonstrations of technology as well as workshops and trainings. In addition, technology and communication evaluations are offered for a fee. Each location offers open lab days, but the evaluations are by appointment only.
Houston (Bellaire): 713-838-9050
The Woodlands: 281-705-9850
Northwest Hills Eye Care
Northwest Hills Eye Care features a store that sells independent living aids, reading machines, magnifiers, and lighting devices.
Texas Technology Access Program / University of Texas at Austin
512-232-0740 or 800-828-7839, techaccess.edb.utexas.edu/
The purpose of TTAP is to establish a statewide, comprehensive, and consumer-responsive system for the provision of technology-related assistance to Texas citizens of all ages with disabilities. They offer short and long term device loans, and partner with other disability-related organizations to provide computer and AT demonstrations.
List of demonstration sites: http://techaccess.edb.utexas.edu/demo3.html
Partners include United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Texas and Independent Living Centers.
**See also RESNA.
A. Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) Part B:
An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is required for every student with a disability in every school in this country. If the IEP states that the child must have assistive technology in order to be in school, then the school is obligated to provide that assistive technology at no cost to the child or his/her family.
**Contact local districts or TEA for more information on IDEA Part B. For information on IDEA Part C, contact Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) through DARS.
B. The Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1992:
An Individualized Written Rehabilitation Program (IWRP) must include a need for assistive technology for the adult with a disability who is seeking vocational rehabilitation in order to prepare for employment. This includes adults who have been unable to maintain employment, adults who are preparing to enter the workforce for the first time, and graduating students who are transitioning from a school environment to a work environment.
C. Other Programs in Texas:
· Children with Special Health Care Needs
· Medically Dependent Children’s Program
· Program for Amplification for Children of Texas (PACT)
· Texas Health Steps
For Adults (ages 21 and over):
· Community Based Alternatives Waiver (CBA)
For Texans for All Ages:
· Community Living Assistance and Support Services (CLASS)
· Home and Community Services Waiver (HCS)
· In-Home and Family Support
· Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program
NOTE: These programs operate within various agencies in the Texas Health and Human Services system.
A. Become very knowledgeable about the person's disability, needs, and capabilities. State in writing what purpose the equipment will be used for, such as for school or for work. Many sources of funding require justification statements as part of the application process.
B. Keep updated records of the following information. Most funding sources will ask for some or all of this data, and some sources define their parameters by topics such as family gross income or employment history.
- Primary Disability
- Time of Onset
- Cause of Disability
- Secondary Disability
- Time of Onset of Secondary Disability
- Cause of Secondary Disability
- Employment History
- Family Gross Income
- Monthly Expenses (rent or mortgage payments, utilities, outstanding loans and bills, medical expenses, etc.)
- Health Insurance Information
- Names, Ages, and Relationship of Dependents
C. Research assistive technology devices, and become very familiar with what is available to meet the individual's needs. Contact persons and organizations in Section III of this packet for more information, as well as the individuals outlined below.
D. Obtain professional assistance with the evaluation and device selection process. Some examples of professionals that can provide assistance:
- Rehabilitation Counselor
E. Network and talk to people that have similar devices and find out how funding was obtained. This can be accomplished by contacting:
- Disability Organizations
- Parent Groups
- Support Groups
- Advocacy Groups
F. When the right equipment is located, gather all the information possible about it. Obtain brochures, analyze various prices, locate product reviews, even take pictures or video of the person using the technology, to emphasize its need and value to that individual.
G. Develop and prioritize a list of possible funding sources. Remember that certain sources cater to specific populations, such as the Veterans Administration. However, also keep in mind that in some cases more than one funding source can be used to purchase a piece of equipment.
H. Learn the requirements and application process for the funding source or sources. Be certain that the person meets ALL of the qualifications before he/she applies, and make sure that all of the necessary documentation, including accompanying papers, prescriptions, recommendations, etc, is given at the time the application is processed. When possible, present the information in person, and request that the packet be checked in order to be certain that all of the required materials have been included. Applications can be denied for something as simple as forgetting a signature.
I. Useful Terminology for Funding Requests:
1. FOR Medicare:
- Medically necessary
- Reasonable and necessary
- Durable medical equipment
- Prosthetic device
2. FOR Medicaid:
- Achieving and maintaining self-support to prevent, reduce or eliminate dependency
- Preserving, rehabilitating, or reuniting families
- Prosthetic appliance
- Physician-prescribed equipment part of client's medical treatment plan
- Restoration of the patient to his best functionallevel
3. FOR “Crippled” Children's Services:
Frequently pay cost of whatever health care is indicated
4. FOR Vocational Rehabilitation Services:
- Services, training, and equipment used to enhance the employability of disabled individuals
- Vocational potential
- Independent living status
- Eligibility for vocational rehabilitation based on:
- A. Presence of physical or mental disability which results in substantial handicap to employment.
- B. Reasonable expectations that vocational rehabilitation services may benefit an individual's employability or independent living status.
J. Call regularly to check on the process, and keep a record of all phone calls and correspondence. Be persistent!
K. If the person is denied, begin the appeal process immediately. If the individual cannot afford an attorney, contact the local Legal Aid Society.
Assistive Technologies in the Library
Assistive Technology for Students Who Are Blind or Visually
Impaired: A Guide to Assessment
Assistive Technology in the Classroom: Enhancing the School
Experiences of Students with Disabilities
Guide to Easier Living with Technology
Illustrated Guide to Assistive Technology and Devices: Tools and Gadgets for Living Independently
AT & Computer Trainings / Tutorials
Assistive Technology Funding Guide in PDF