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Growing Assistive Technology Awareness through State Programs, Partnerships, and Innovation

Published: March 29, 2021
Authors: Robert Mollica, Consultant to AARP Public Policy Institute and contributors Susan Reinhard, AARP Public Policy Institute, Lori Gerhard and Robert Groenendaal, Administration for Community Living, State Assistive Technology Act Programs

Assistive Technology (AT) refers to any item, device, piece of equipment, or system that can increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities for older adults and individuals of all ages with disabilities. It includes a wide range of technologies, from smart home and vehicle automation, to devices that enable communication with health care providers, or with people and programs to reduce social isolation. AT programs which run in partnership with state, local, and community organizations enable people with disabilities and older adults, caregivers and others working with them, to learn about, access and acquire AT. These programs, however, which can be real game changers and even life savers for so many families and individuals, are underutilized.

Generally, people are unaware of how and where to find information about available AT, how to use the technology, where to find training and support, where to purchase the technology, and what funding resources are available to pay for the technology. Building partnerships among organizations serving people with disabilities and/or older adults is one way to expand awareness and access to AT.

This report, produced in collaboration with the Administration for Community Living, State Assistive Technology Act Programs, examines partnerships happening around the country at the state level to increase awareness and adoption of this important form of technology. It offers thumbnail case studies of state programs that are finding innovative ways to expand the availability of AT (and includes contact information for each).