Money Mondays: 4 Ways to Obtain Assistive Technology
Assistive technology (AT) broadens the everyday possibilities for people with disabilities, especially in the workplace. For example, adapted keyboards make it easier for individuals who may not have use of one of their limbs to type and use the computer, while screen reader programs help people who are blind or have low vision access information.
From voice recognition software to hand tools with accessible features (e.g. hammers, measuring instruments), you can learn more about how AT can help you in the workplace in this fact sheet from AbleData.
We know that AT can sometimes be expensive. The good thing is there are a number of ways to help you get the AT you may need. Learn about some of these options:
- Health Insurance: If you have a medical need for assistive technology, such as a wheelchair, scooter, walker, crutches or a prosthetic device, your health insurance (including Medicare and Medicaid) may help cover the cost. You will need to get a prescription from your doctor and make sure the device is considered “Durable Medical Equipment” by your insurer.
- State Vocational Rehabilitation agency: Your state Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency may pay for devices that help you get or keep a job. Some states also have programs that provide residents assistance obtaining AT. Use the Find Help tool to search for your VR and ask them about resources in your state!
- Your employer: Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to their employees with disabilities, which may include AT. If you are currently employed, it may be a good idea to find out what options may exist through your workplace. A. To learn whether your employer can assist with AT, contact your Human Resources representative or ask if there is a specific department that handles workplace-related reasonable accommodations.
- Organizations: Nonprofit community and state-based organizations may provide AT to people who qualify. Other disability-specific organizations, such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association may assist individuals who have those disabilities. An online search and/or networking with others may reveal an organization that represents your disability and could help fund necessary AT. For tips and resources on speaking to your employer about workplace accommodations, visit the Job Accommodation Network (JAN). Watch a past WISE webinar featuring a representative from JAN or read the webinar transcript.
Assistive technology can help you be the best employee you can be. If you are in search of AT, there are a number of ways to get assistance. Resources will vary, depending on where you live, so use these suggestions as a starting point.
If you or someone you know is a Social Security disability beneficiary who wants to work, call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 (V); 1-866-833-2967 (TTY), or visit www.socialsecurity.gov/work to learn more.
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