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HDS Assistive Technology Brochure

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Assistive Technology

According to the Assistive Technology Act, assistive technology defines "any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially or off the shelf, modified or customized, that increases, maintains, or improves functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities."

All assistive technology items are either considered low tech, or high tech devices.

  • Low tech devices are those items that can either be made or are inexpensive and readily available.
    • Some examples of low tech devices include: pencil grips, splints, paper stabilizers
  • High tech devices use electronics, special manufacturing techniques, and materials. High technology devices typically must be purchased through a specialized vendor.
    • Some examples of high tech devices include: computers, voice synthesizers, braille readers

Common applications of assistive technology on the job:

  • Increased access
  • Environmental control
  • Augmentative communications
  • Assistive listening
  • Auditory aides
  • Mobility
  • Computer based instruction

Deciding What Assistive Technology to Acquire to Perform the Job

Determining what assistive technology is best suited to meet the needs of the user is something that should be carefully considered before the point of purchase. Questions to answer to help individuals make informed choices include:

  • Is the prospective user already using assistive devices and how are they working out?
  • Is the product compatible with other technology used?
  • Is there technical support available?
  • Is there a money back guarantee and warranty?
  • How will the AT be funded?

Sometimes it is necessary to bring in the experts to assess the circumstances and determine the best assistive technology for the situation.

Accommodation solutions can be found at Job Accommodations Network SOAR (Searchable Online Accommodation Resource) www.jan.wvu.edu/soar/


Cost of Assistive Technology

One of the biggest concerns that employers have, is the cost of on the job accommodations. While some companies do incur costs by providing accommodations, surveys have shown that costs are minimal.

  • The Job Accommodations Network conducted a survey of employers who spoke with their consultants, and found that 71% of accommodations cost less than $500 while 20% cost nothing

Funding Opportunities to pay for assistive technology

Funding opportunities do exist to help individuals offset the cost of accommodations.

Disabled Access Credit (DAC)

This is a tax incentive designed to encourage small businesses to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act

DAC is available to an "eligible small business" and is equal to 50% of the "eligible access expenditures" which do exceed $250 but do not exceed $10,250, for a maximum credit of $5,000 a year

  • Eligible Access Expenditures are "the amounts paid or incurred by an eligible small business for the purpose of enabling small businesses to comply with applicable requirements"

Architectural and Transportation Barrier Removal Deduction

This incentive is designed to offset some of the costs associated with making a business accessible according to Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines. Businesses may choose to deduct up to $15,000 for making a facility or public transportation vehicle owned or leased for use in the business more accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.

  • A facility is all or any part of a building, structure, equipment, road, walk, parking lot, or similar property. A public transportation vehicle is a vehicle such as a bus or railroad car, which provides transportation service to the public

For more information on funding opportunities go to www.jan.wvu.edu/links/Funding/GeneralInfo.html.