The Technology-Related Assistance for People with Disabilities Act of 1988 is a landmark piece of legislation that acknowledged the need for individuals with disabilities to access and utilize assistive technology devices and services. The Assistive Technology Association (ATAP) Law Program, a national non-profit organization established in 1997 and funded by the federal Assistive Technology Act, is responsible for overseeing state AT programs. In 2004, changes to the assistive technology grants necessitated that states use the money for state-level activities. These activities include informing people with disabilities about assistive technologies, where to obtain them, and how to acquire them.Officially known as the Improving Access to Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities Act of 2004, this reauthorization of the Act was set to expire on September 30, 2004.Each state and territory's Department of Education will support state efforts to improve the provision of assistive technology to people with disabilities of all ages through comprehensive state technology-related assistance programs.
Additionally, assistive technology reuse services allow other people with disabilities to reuse assistive technologies that the original owner no longer uses or needs.The Assistive Technology Act was initially passed by Congress and signed by the President as the Technology-Related Assistance Act of 1988.Amendments to the Assistive Technology Act permit the Secretary of Education to grant assistive technology grants to states to maintain state programs. The Assistive Technology Association Act programs compile a summary of these accomplishments; full copies of each state plan can be found in the National Assistive Technology Information System.State-level activities include funding systems, including lending programs to facilitate access and funding of assistive technology services and devices. Each state has its own personally designed plans that can be found in the National Assistive Technology Information System. Assistive technologies are equipment, items, or devices that are used to improve or maintain the functionality of a person with a disability.One of the major changes introduced by the Assistive Technology Act of 2004 was a change in purpose.
Previous laws focused on helping states create systems to improve access to assistive technology devices for people with disabilities. A loan for assistive technology devices allows people to borrow an assistive technology for a limited period of time to use it and determine if the device meets their needs before purchasing an assistive technology product.