These definitions also appear in the Tech Act Legislation (P.L.100-407) which has been adopted in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
IDEA defines an assistive technology device as:
... any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. [20 U.S.C. Chapter 33, Section 1401 (25)].
This definition is broad and includes a range of devices from low technology to high technology items as well as software.
Under IDEA the legal definition of assistive technology services is:
... any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. [20 U.S.C. Chapter 33, Section 1401 (26)]
the evaluation of the needs of an individual with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the individual in the individual's customary environment;
purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by individuals with disabilities;
selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing of assistive technology services;
coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs;
training or technical assistance for an individual with disabilities, or, where appropriate, the family of an individual with disabilities; and
training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals providing education and rehabilitation services), employers, or other individuals who provide services to, employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of individuals with disabilities.
Info and Referral Links
Disability Hub MN - Your link to Minnesota disability services and supports. Toll-Free 1-866-333-2466.
Equipalife - Two low-interest loan programs for people with disabilities. For more information contact 763-479-8239 or Toll-Free 1-866-535-8239.
Minnesota State Council on Disability (MSCOD) is the comprehensive disabilities resource for lawmakers, agencies, non-profits, businesses, and individuals. The Minnesota State Council on Disability helps advance the rights of Minnesotans with disabilities. We do this by linking people with disabilities to those who legislate, plan and deliver services to them. If you make the laws or need to abide by them, or if you provide services or need information about laws and services, you can call on us at 651-361-7800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PACER's Simon Technology Center has a featured called PACER Super Service, that links people with useful products and equipment, to those looking for such items.
Telephone Equipment Distribution Program (TED) Program provides specialized telephone equipment at NO CHARGE for Minnesota residents of all ages who have difficulty using a regular telephone due to a hearing loss, speech or physical disability. Eligibility requirements do apply. For more information call 651-297-1507, Toll Free 1-800-657-3663, or 1-888-206-6555 (TTY).
Minnesota has skilled Assistive Technology (AT) Specialists, but they can be difficult to find because there is no one credential that assures competence, no specific professional degree to look for, and no registry of AT Specialists to help consumers, service providers, and payers. A task force facilitated by the STAR Program developed the following guide to assist in the selection of an AT Specialist.
STAR does not endorse or recommend any particular individual or agency. The posting of this information to STAR's website does not imply endorsement by STAR's funders, the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research nor the State of Minnesota. This information is educational in nature. Let the buyer beware.
There are no generalists in AT service delivery. Service providers specialize in one or two areas that are generally related. Selection of an AT Specialist should be guided by the identified need of the person with a disability.
Skills expected of an AT Specialist within their specialization(s):
Have a knowledge base.
Know other resources including related services and be willing to bring them in.
Know about people with disabilities.
Understand capabilities of people with disabilities.
Know how AT and people with disabilities interrelate.
Know funding sources and how to use them.
Complete an evaluation/assessment.
Research available commercial products.
Determine appropriate equipment.
Perform system set-up/integration into environment.
Degree from AT related area (Health Care and Human Services)
Course descriptions / transcripts / degree
Practice: Work under supervision, work with a team, work with credentialed people in AT-related area
Position description, Letter of Support, Performance Review, Names and credentials of team members, Name and AT-related credential of direct supervisor
Formal Training: Established AT curriculum, May be a structured on-the-job training program
Certificates from training / technical courses; Credentialing based on formal course work: RIATT, ATP/ATS, RESNA AT Course, CSUN AT Course
Course description / objectives and instructor qualifications and credential; certificate; documentation of qualifications of onsite trainer, mentor, direct supervisor
Continuing Education: AT related workshops, independent study, teleconferences, research, conferences, etc., Trained by manufacturer, Self-directed learning with practical application, Vendor inservice
AT Conferences such as CSUN, CTG, RESNA, USAAC, ISAAC, ASHA, RIATT, etc., AOTA's Self-study Course on AT
Documentation required, Must be verifiable with written proof of participation
Based on the degree of risk for harm - physical, financial, limitation of potential function due to error, etc. the AT Specialist Task Force divided the service areas in to high risk and moderate risk areas and made recommendations for experience/training for each category.
Rating of the categories of AT Service by the group found that high risk for harm categories were:
Seating and positioning.
Orthotics and prosthetics.
Transportation (drivers training with adapted vehicles).
Mobility aids (wheelchair, scooters, etc).
Recommendations for a minimum standard/guide for being an entry-level AT Specialist in these High Risk areas are:
A professional degree with 2 years of practice and 100 hours of formal training or continuing education, or
An associate degree with 4 years of practice and 100 hours of formal training or continuing education, or
Eight years of directly supervised practice and 200 hours of formal training and 200 hours of continuing education.
Directly supervised practice is defined as full-time work with hands on experience in application of AT with the person and the equipment under the direct supervision of an experienced AT-related degreed professional or within the context of a team.
Categories identified as some or moderate risk are:
Environmental Access (home modification).
Computer Access - software and hardware.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication.
Electronic Aids for Daily Living (environmental control).
Instructional Aids/Aids for Living (low tech).
A professional degree with 2 years of practice and 100 hours of formal training or continuing education, or
An associates degree with 4 years of practice and 100 hours of formal training or continuing education, or
Two years of directly supervised practice and 4 years of mentored practice and 200 hours of formal training and 200 hours of continuing education.
Mentored practice is full-time practice that involves hands on experience in application of Assistive Technology with the person and the equipment with mentoring by a person with expertise in the area.
Continuing Education for High and Moderate Risk
Recommended annual continuing education once meeting the basic criteria of AT Specialist is 20 hours in each specialty area of practice.
Sample questions one might ask an assistive technology practitioner:
What is your experience and training? (See grid of demonstrable / objective criteria above for guidance.)
What categories of assistive technology do you know well? (see listings of skills and categories of AT above.)
Are your services reimbursable and by whom?
What is involved in your AT assessment/evaluation process?
May I see a sample of a letter of medical necessity that you have written?
If the AT you recommend is denied, will you work with me through the appeal process?
STAR and the AT Specialist Task Force encourage consumers to be wise purchasers of service.
STAR does not endorse or recommend any particular individual or agency. The posting of this information to STAR's website does not imply endorsement by STAR's funders, the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research, nor the State of Minnesota. This information is educational in nature.
ADA - link to the Americans with Disabilities Act Home Page
Community-Based Alternatives/Promoting Community Integration - As a part of his New Freedom Initiative, the President issued Executive Order 13217, Community-Based Alternatives for Individuals with Disabilities. The Order calls upon the federal government to assist states and localities to swiftly implement the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Olmstead v. L.C., stating: The United States is committed to community-based alternatives for individuals with disabilities and recognizes that such services advance the best interests of the United States.
National Council on Disability - The National Council on Disability (NCD) is an independent federal agency making recommendations to the President and Congress on issues affecting 54 million Americans with disabilities.
WorkSupport.com is funded in part by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C.
AbleProject.org is a non-profit organization focused on helping people with disabilities. Our mission is to help people with disability, and people with disabled love ones to find mobility and assistive devices faster, easier, and at competitive price.
Access North - a virtual Center for Independent Living for Northeastern Minnesota.
Amputee Coalition of America (ACA) features information about the Amputee Coalition of America, access to the National Limb Loss Information Center, the ACA National Peer Network, and a growing collection of sites concerned with Limb Loss Research and Statistics.
assistivetech.net is a resource for assistive technology (AT) and a link to a wide variety of AT and disability-related information. The searchable database of AT is designed to help you target solutions, determine costs and link to vendors that sell products. Our target audiences include people with disabilities, family members, service providers, educators and employers.
Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota, Inc. (HFH-MN) is a support organization created under the umbrella of Habitat for Humanity International. It was created by the affiliates in Minnesota, and is accountable to those affiliates. As a support organization, HFH-MN was created to identify and serve the needs of Habitat affiliates in the state of Minnesota as they pursue the creation of decent, safe, affordable housing for those in need. Click on Local Affiliates link for the Habitat for Humanity organization in your area.
Family Center on Technology and Disability - The Center serves organizations and programs that work with families of children and youth with disabilities. We offer a range of information and services on the subject of assistive technology (AT). Whether you're an organization, a parent, an educator, or an interested friend, we hope you'll find information that supports you in your efforts to bring the highest quality education to children with disabilities.
MinnesotaHelp.info - is a comprehensive database of local community resources for consumers, caregivers and service providers. You can search for resources: by zip, city and state; by topic; by keyword; or by provider name.
Emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere. The links below will help you prepare so you and your technology are ready when an emergency strikes!