The Assistive Technology Act of 1998 is a law that provides federal funding to all states to support state grant programs that address the assistive technology needs of people with disabilities. The law requires the provision of support, assistive technology devices, and training to all people with a disability as a civil right. Each state has different programs and plans that are personally designed based on the people who live in that state. The term “assistive technology service” means any service that directly helps a person with a disability to select, purchase, or use an assistive technology device.
This includes services such as providing information about assistive technology, helping to identify appropriate devices, providing training on how to use the device, and helping to troubleshoot any issues with the device. The Assistive Technology Association (ATAP) Law Program is a national non-profit organization founded in 1997 and funded by the federal Assistive Technology Act to oversee state AT programs. The Assistive Technology Act of 2004 changed the previous law to review and re-authorize the programs of the Assistive Technology Act. This legislation required states to use the money for state-level activities, such as developing training programs and information sources to educate citizens and employers on how to meet the assistive technology needs of people with disabilities.
In addition, the law required states to provide “direct” support to people with a disability, such as the use of assistive technology in teaching, loan programs and funding options for the purchase of any device they needed. This program will help people with disabilities, their families, guardians, authorized representatives, and advocates obtain assistive technologies. Think of the Assistive Technology Act like a tree: it has a deep-seated origin, is constantly growing and changing, branching, full of leaves, and providing the necessary coverage for people with disabilities. For more information about your state's programs and plans, visit the National Assistive Technology Information System.