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					       Contents
Introduction
Steering Committee
Welcoming
Summary of Assistive Technology Act of 2004
The Massachusetts Assistive Technology Grant Re-Application Process
Summary of Current Assistive Technology-Related Programs and Services Led by State
Agencies
       The Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
       The Massachusetts Commission for the Blind
       The Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation
       The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission
Procedures for Establishing an Assistive Technology Act Advisory Council
Facilitated Roundtable Discussions
Procedures
Topics and Roundtable Discussions
       Types of Assistive Technology Used by Participants
       Sources of Assistive Technology
       Assistive Technology Available
       Barriers to Obtaining Assistive Technology
       Knowledge of the Availability of Assistive Technology
       Sources of Assistive Technology Information
       Testing Assistive Technology
Roundtable Summary
Next Steps
Appendix 1: Assistive Technology Used by Individuals with Disabilities in Massachusetts
Appendix 2: Sources of Assistive Technology
Appendix 3: Round Table Discussion




2              “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
        Table of Exhibits

Exhibit 1: Assistive Technology Grant: 1989-2004                                                  10


Exhibit 2: Assistive Technology Spending by Massachusetts Disabilities Agencies in Fiscal Year 200512


Exhibit 3: MCDHH AT Grant Spending FY 2005                                                        14


Exhibit 4: MCB AT Grant Spending FY 2005                                                          15


Exhibit 5: DMR AT Grant Spending FY 2005                                                          17


Exhibit 6: MRC AT Grant Spending FY 2005                                                          20


Exhibit 7: Massachusetts Assistive Technology Act Advisory Council Nomination Form                22


Exhibit 8: Roundtable Discussion Topics                                                           24


Exhibit 9: Summary of Roundtable Issues                                                           29




3               “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
    Introduction
                 On February 11, 2005, agencies serving the disabilities community in
        Massachusetts held an Assistive Technology Forum in Natick to solicit input from
        the public on the implementation of the Assistive Technology Act of 2004 (the AT
        Act), signed into law by President Bush on October 26, 2004. The Commission for
        the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, the
        Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation and the Massachusetts
        Rehabilitation Commission collaborated to lead this effort.


                 The purpose of the Forum was twofold: first, to begin the process of
        gathering information from the public on what projects to be funded through the
        AT Act would make the most impact on the disabilities community; and second,
        provide a continuing avenue for public dialogue that is central to the mission of all
        Commonwealth disabilities agencies.


            Approximately 80 people attended the one-day event. The Steering Committee
        promoted the event through an email campaign targeted at more than 25 groups—
        including independent living centers, community groups, seven state agencies, and
        two institutions of higher learning in the region. Included in the targeted marketing
        group were the following:


                 Advisory Council Members affiliated with MCDHH, MRC, MCB, and
                 DMR
                 Independent Living Centers
                 Deaf and Hard of Hearing Independent Living Centers
                 Governor’s Commission on Mental Retardation
                 Non-profit, consumer driven agencies whose programs and services
                 enhance independence and use of assistive technology
                 Easter Seals
                 Massachusetts Assistive Technology Partnership (MATP)


            As a result of this inclusive marketing effort, a diverse attendance was drawn
        from all quarters of the disabilities community. Attendees included people who are
        deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened and deaf/blind persons; those with physical,
        cognitive, mental health or visual disabilities, those who use assistive technology


4       “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
    for mobility, communications or other aspects of daily life or work; family
    members, advocates and service providers.




5   “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
    Steering Committee
            The event was organized by a steering committee composed of representatives
        of the Commonwealth’s disabilities agencies. They were:


                Heidi Reed, Commissioner, Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and
                Hard of Hearing
                Kimberly Egan, Deputy Commissioner of Administration and Finance,
                Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
                Patricia Ford, Deputy Commissioner of Policy and Programs,
                Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
                Jane Sokol Shulman, Administrative Services Commissioner,
                Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
                Karen Langley, Director of Independent Living and Assistive Technology
                Services, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission
                Rick Arcangeli, General Council, Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf
                and Hard of Hearing and Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission
                John Chappell Deputy Commissioner for Office of Community Services,
                Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission
                David Govostes, Commissioner, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind
                Patricia Hart, Director of Policy Development, Massachusetts
                Commission for the Blind
                Margaret Chow-Menzer, Assistant Commissioner for Systems
                Integration, Department of Mental Retardation
                Annette Shea, Department of Elder Affairs




6       “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
    Welcoming
       Heidi L. Reed, Commissioner, Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard
       of Hearing


       The Forum was opened by Heidi Reed, Commissioner of the Massachusetts
       Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. She began by welcoming the
       attendees and guests, and by giving an overview of the day’s program.


       Commissioner Reed also gave a brief overview of the disabilities agencies and
       their role with assistive technology over the last 15 years, including the
       Massachusetts Assistive Technology Partnership grant.




7      “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
        Summary of Assistive Technology Act of 2004
        Rick Arcangeli, General Council, Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and
        Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission


                      Rick Arcangeli, general council of both the Massachusetts Commission for the
                 Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission,
                 provided a summary of the AT Act.


                      The AT Act (Assistive Technology Act) was originally passed by Congress in
                 1988 providing grants to each of the states and territories to establish statewide
                 systems and programs for assistive technology to benefit those with disabilities
                 who need assistive technology services. The disabilities community hailed the Act
                 at the time as recognition of the importance of assistive technology in the lives of
                 individuals with disabilities.


                      In October 2004 President Bush signed into law the Tech Act of 2004. A
                 bipartisan bill overwhelmingly supported by the Congress, the Tech Act spelled
                 out specific activities that were to be the focus of the new program. However,
                 unlike predecessor laws, the 2004 act placed greater emphasis on enhanced
                 consumer involvement. Key to this was creation of an Advisory Council. The law
                 mandated that majority of Advisory Council members include individuals with
                 disabilities who utilize assistive technology, or their family members.


                      The Tech Act requires that each state file a grant application with the federal
                 government in order to receive funding for its assistive technology projects.1The
                 role of the Advisory Council is to ensure that the goals of the state agency
                 requesting the grant match the needs, desires and goals of the disabilities
                 community in that state.


                      The Tech Act of 2004 also places an emphasis on collaboration among state
                 agencies, independent living centers, community action agencies and other groups
                 whose shared goal is assisting individuals with disabilities to live more
                 independently.


1
 In Massachusetts the lead agency for the assistive technology grant program is the Massachusetts
Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

8                “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
           The new law also places more of demand for accountability on the
    Commonwealth and MCDHH as its designated agent for administering the
    assistive-technology grant in Massachusetts.


           This accountability will require that the Commonwealth establish clearer
    measures of performance for the services it delivers. It also requires agencies and
    organizations receiving grant money to document and demonstrate the
    effectiveness of the programs being funded. Third, the new law requires that the
    Commonwealth put into the hands of disabled persons the assistive technology that
    they need to lead independent and productive lives.


           The area where the Commonwealth must establish measurable goals for
    success are in the areas of education, employment, telecommunications,
    community living. Finally, the lead agency (MCDHH) must demonstrate that it is
    effective in developing collaborative relationships among the public and private
    entities within the disabilities community in the Commonwealth.


           The President’s Fiscal Year 2006 Budget Message, released in February 2005,
    failed to include funding for the Assistive Technology Act. The statewide system
    of independent living centers has mechanisms in place to educate large groups of
    individuals with disabilities and to assist them in effectively advocating for
    programs of interest and importance, Mr. Arcangeli noted. They will be central in
    the effort to education the public about the need to continue funding for the AT
    Act.


           Forum attendees were urged to contact their members of Congress to request
    that funding for the Tech Act, which in Massachusetts amounted to approximately
    $400,000 each of the last 15 years, be restored.




9   “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
        The Massachusetts Assistive Technology Grant
        Re-Application Process
                    The current assistive-technology grant expires June 30, 2005. During the
                period of 1988-2005 the grant has focused on four areas as depicted in the
                following exhibit.
Exhibit 1: Assistive Technology Grant: 1989-2004

         Raising
      Awareness of
        Assistive
       Technology                                                                       Information
                                                                                       Infrastructure




                                            Assistive
                                        Technology Grant
                                           1986-2004


                                                                                             Advocacy
                                                                                              Issues
                                                                                                And
        Education                                                                             Action




                    These activities were carried out by the Massachusetts Assistive Technology
                Partnership (MATP) and two independent-living centers—the Stavros Center for
                Independent Living and the Cape Organization for Rights of the Disabled. Both of
                these organizations focus their programs on the peer aspects of assistive
                technology.


                    The Tech Act of 2004, when funded, will require organizations that receive
                grants to spend a minimum of 60 or 70 percent of the grant money on direct-aid
                programs. These may include:

10             “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
                  Assistive-technology reutilization programs
                  Assistive-technology demonstration programs
                  Alternative financing programs
                  Device loan programs


         The Tech Act of 2004 also requires that the grant-application process to
     provide detailed descriptions of planned activities and measurable goals relating to
     the following areas:


                  Education
                  Employment
                  Telecommunications and information technology
                  Community living




11   “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
        Summary of Current Assistive Technology-
        related Programs and Services Led by State
        Agencies
                    Four of the agencies within the Commonwealth’s disabilities cluster provided
                a summary of the assistive-technology programs that they administer. These
                agencies included the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of
                Hearing, the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, the Department of Mental
                Retardation, and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.


                    The total expenditures for these four Massachusetts disabilities agencies have
                exceeded $34 million in FY 05, as shown in the following exhibit.
Exhibit 2: Assistive Technology Spending by Massachusetts Disabilities Agencies in Fiscal Year 2005



                                          MCB, $1,668,344

                 MCDHH, $647,902


                                                                  DMR, $2,406,519

                                                                                             MCDHH
                                                                                             MCB
                                                                                             DMR
                                                                                             MRC



                                                         MRC,
                                                      $29,736,399




12              “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
     Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of
     Hearing
              Kimberly Egan, Deputy Commissioner of Administration and Finance,
          Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing


              The Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH)
          serves as the principal agency representing the Commonwealth's 560,000 Deaf,
          late deafened, and hard of hearing people.


              The Commission is also the lead agency for the federal, cross-disability, cross-
          agency grant from the U.S. Department of Education through the National Institute
          on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, which funds the Massachusetts
          Assistive Technology Partnership (MATP), to develop a coordinated, statewide
          system to enable access to assistive technology and assistive technology related
          services by people with disabilities in Massachusetts.


              Assistive technology spending by the MCDHH is spread over four broad
          areas:


                   The Massachusetts Assistive Technology Partnership
                   The MCDHH Assistive Technology Fund
                   The Commission’s Communication Access, Training and Technology
                   Services, or CATTS, Department
                   The Verizon Equipment Distribution Program


              The total amount of money allocated to the Commission for assistive
          technology in FY 2005 is $650,000 spread over these four areas.


              The largest portion of that allocation--$324,000—is reserved for the
          Massachusetts Assistive Technology Partnership, described above. The nearly
          $200,000 spent on the CATTS program is dedicated to staff resources, which
          provide the following services to the deaf community and the public in general:


                   Public education on all issues related to hearing loss
                   Free communications accessibility training
                   Technical assistance to state agencies and the private sector on how to
                   comply with provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act


13        “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
                         Informational materials on assistive technology and hearing loss
                         Management of the MDCHH web site, a portal for information on
                         assistive technology and other deafness-related issues
                         General communication with deaf, late-deafened, and hard of hearing
                         people on topics of importance to the deaf community


                    The Verizon Equipment Distribution Program handles applications for
                assistive-technology equipment, and the AT grant funds the part-time position
                responsible for this function.


                    Finally, the MCDHH AT Fund includes $40,000 to provide assistive
                technology as a last resort for those individuals who are not eligible for services
                under any other program and are on a fixed income.


                    The following exhibit outlines the Commission’s AT grant spending for FY
                2005.
Exhibit 3: MCDHH AT Grant Spending FY 2005
AT Act grant /Massachusetts Assistive Technology     $394,786
Partnership

Assistive Technology Fund                            $40,000

Communication Access, Training and                   $191,333
Technological Services


Verizon Equipment Distribution Program               $21,783



TOTAL MCDHH                                          $647,902




        Massachusetts Commission for the Blind
                David Govostes, Commissioner, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind


                    The Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) is a statutory body that
                works in partnership with legally blind individuals to provide a range of social and



14              “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
                   Rehabilitation services in order to allow blind people to reach their goals of
                   independence and community participation.


                       MCB funds a variety of assistive-technology programs. These include aids and
                   devices, educational equipment, and software. In addition, the Commission’s
                   portion of the assistive-technology grant funds a range of human resources that
                   include support of rehabilitative engineers, troubleshooting of technology issues, a
                   low vision specialist, support of the Technology for the Blind program and social
                   services and educational aids for blind individuals in non-employable situations.


                       The following exhibit details the Commission’s assistive-technology spending
                   for FY 2005.
Exhibit 4: MCB AT Grant Spending FY 2005
ADP Professional Services                                 $455,067


Equipment Maintenance                                     $9,000


Engineer Individual and Group Consultant                  $122,007



Educational Equipment                                     $146,506


ADP Equipment                                             $214,437


Aids and Devices                                          $129,215


Software                                                  $145,335


Employees’ Salaries                                       $138,190


Educational Equipment – Social Services                   $58,176


Aids and Devices – Social Services                        $162,559


Aids and Devices – Multi-handicapped                      $14,667


Modifications – IL                                        $73,165




15              “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
TOTAL MCB                                         $1,668,344



                David Govostes, MCB Commissioner, spoke about the referral network for
            blind issues, including organizations such as the Massachusetts Rehabilitation
            Commission, the Massachusetts Association for the Blind, Vision and Community
            Services, and the Lion’s Club.


                Commissioner Govostes also addressed the issue of deaf/blindness and the
            importance of cross-referral networks in order to facilitate an accurate evaluation
            of a deaf/blind individual and channel him to an appropriate assistance agency.


     Department of Mental Retardation
            Margaret Chow Menzer, Assistant Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of
            Mental Retardation


                The Department of Mental Retardation (DMR) is responsible for creating
            innovative and genuine opportunities for individuals with mental retardation to
            allow them to participate in their communities and contribute to them in a
            meaningful way.


                To do this, DMR provides assistance in job placement, transportation,
            housing, treatment, monitoring and care. The Department provides these services
            both through state-operated programs and 265 provider agencies across the
            Commonwealth.


                Margaret Chow-Menzer, Assistant Commissioner of the Department of
            Mental Retardation, spoke about three assistive-technology programs in which the
            Department is currently involved: a joint project with the Department of Education
            to fund vehicle and home modification, a DMR project for family support, and the
            staff and supplies to fund six adaptive technology centers that DMR operates
            around the Commonwealth.


                The intent of the DOE/DMR project, according to Assistant Commissioner
            Chow-Menzer, is to support individuals who are at risk of being placed in an out-
            of-home situation. The goal of the project is to enable children at risk of being
            placed in an out-of-home school to remain in the home. The program accomplishes


16          “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
      this goal by providing funding for vehicle and home modifications that would
      accommodate children with special needs.


          The second program, the Family Support program, covers funding of services
      and support for families who are still the primary caregivers for individuals with
      mental retardation still living in the home, said Assistant Commissioner Chow-
      Menzer. Similar to the DOE/DMR project for school-age children, the Family
      Support program provides funding for vehicle and home modifications necessary
      to keep the individual in an at-home environment.


          The third area of assistive-technology funding in which DMR engages is the
      operation of six adaptive-technology centers located around the Commonwealth.
      By far the largest of the three programs, at an annual expenditure of over $2
      million, the centers support individuals in the communities, as well as individuals
      in facilities, by helping adapt equipment and devices in such as way as to be useful
      to individuals with mental retardation.


          Assistant Commissioner Chow-Menzer spoke at length about the need to
      leverage the knowledge and expertise of center staff to serve more people in their
      communities. Assistant Commissioner Chow-Menzer discussed current initiatives,
      such as partnering with the University of Massachusetts, to find ways to use the
      centers’ staff to expand service within nearby communities.


          A number of attendees spoke of such partnerships with other institutions such
      as Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Clark University.


          The following exhibit details DMR spending on these three projects for FY
      2005.
      Exhibit 5: DMR AT Grant Spending FY 2005
     DOE/DMR Project Funding – Vehicle Modification           $10,000



     DOE/DMR Project Funding – Home Modification              $47,185



     DMR Family Support – Vehicle Modification                $26,180




17   “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
         DMR Family Support –                                       $223,154
         Home Modification


         Staff and Supplies                                         $2,100,000

         TOTAL DMR                                                  $2,406,519




     Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission
          Karen Langley, Director of Independent Living & Assistive Technology,
          Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission


              The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) provides a suite of
          comprehensive services to people with disabilities to improve their quality of life
          and increase their self-sufficiency and ability to contribute to their communities.
          These services include the Vocational Rehabilitation Program, the Community
          Services Program, and the Disability Determination Services Program.


              Karen Langley, Director of Independent Living & Assistive Technology
          Services for MRC, outlined the eleven programs that the Commission operates to
          provide assistive help for vocational rehabilitation. The first of these is vehicle
          modifications, which she explained, may be of a structural or non-structural nature.
          This could mean modifying a van to include a wheelchair lift, or placing a roof-
          rack atop the vehicle for transporting a wheelchair.


              Ms. Langley also talked about adaptive assistance available to vocational
          rehabilitation clients. This service, she explained, is usually contracted out to five
          providers. This is provided to clients who need assistive devices for employment
          training programs or for work.


              Similarly, MRC provides adaptive housing assistance, up to a cap of $10,000
          for individuals who need modifications to their home, such as a ramp, lift or
          bathroom accommodation. The Commission also provides ergonomic assessments
          of work sites for clients to determine what type of adaptive assistance might be
          necessary to make the site accessible for a vocational rehabilitation client.




18        “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
         Ms. Langley also outlined the types of assistive technology that the agency
     purchases for vocational rehabilitation clients, including hearing aids, low-vision
     assistive devices, wheelchairs, and durable goods medical equipment.


         In addition to its vocational rehabilitation services, explained Ms. Langley, the
     Commission also provides assistance through an independent living program. This
     program, AT-IL, assesses individuals for appropriate adaptive technology to
     enable them to be independent in an at-home setting.


         As part of this mission, MRC teams with community organization providers
     and with programs like UMASS Project Share to reach independent-living clients
     with technology in their communities. The Commission also purchases services for
     people under Title VII, Part B Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 for purchase of
     things such as home or vehicle modifications, small ancillary devices, and
     transition funding to move clients out of hospitals and institutions and into an at-
     home environment. This money is made available through local independent living
     centers, she explained.


         A key to the mission of MRC is its $25 million, five-year bond program. This
     bond money is used to fund the MRC Home Modification Loan Program (HOLP),
     said Ms. Langley. Currently serving approximately 500 homeowners, the program
     make low or no-interest loans available in order to make their homes accessible for
     independent living.


         A means-tested program, the HOLP provides zero-percent deferred loans as
     well as below-market, three-percent amortized loans for this purpose. A key to the
     success of the zero-percent loan program is that the recipients do not have to repay
     the money until title to the property is transferred, allowing them to repay the cost
     of the modifications out of the equity that the homeowner builds over the years. In
     the four years the program has been available, MRC has had only one loan default,
     Ms. Langley added.


         The Commission also runs a Verizon equipment program, similar to those
     operated by MCDHH and MCB. This provides adaptive equipment to Verizon
     customers.


         Finally Ms. Langley explained the Commission’s new Assistive Technology
     Loan Program. The program has $2.25 million available for assistive technology

19   “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
     and also offers help to consumers filling out applications at 20 sites around the
     state.
          The following exhibit details the FY 2005 MRC budget for assistive
     technology projects.


     Exhibit 6: MRC AT Grant Spending FY 2005
         Vehicle Modifications                            $752,820

         Driving Evaluations                                $24,000

         Adaptive Assistance                              $145,000

         Adaptive Housing                                 $258,035

         Ergonomic Assessments                               $3,000

         Hearing Aids                                     $349,492


         AT-IL Program                                    $798,000


         IL Purchase of Service                           $128,431


         Home Modification Loan                        $25,000,000
         Program

         Verizon Equipment                                  $18,000


         AT Loan Program                                 $2,259,621


         TOTAL MRC                                     $29,736,399




20   “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
     Procedures for Establishing an Assistive
     Technology Act Advisory Council
         Patricia Ford, Deputy Commissioner for Policy and Programs, Massachusetts
         Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing


             Patricia Ford, Deputy Commissioner for Policy and Programs at MCDHH,
         provided an overview on the Commonwealth’s plans for establishing an Advisory
         Council to help in the administration of the Assistive Technology grant.


             Deputy Commissioner Ford explained that the mandate to involve the
         disabilities community in the formulation of each state’s assistive technology plan.
         She outlined the composition and requirements for the Council:


                      Composition. The Council will be comprised of :
                           o   Individuals with disabilities who use assistive technology or
                               the family members or guardians of the individuals.
                           o   A representative of the MRC.
                           o   A representative of the MCB.
                           o   A representative of an independent living center.
                           o   A representative of the State workforce investment board.
                           o   A representative of the State department of education.
                           o   Representatives of other agencies or private organizations,
                               as determined by the State.

                      Council majority. A majority, not less than 51%, of the members of the
                      advisory council shall be individuals with disabilities who use assistive
                      technology or the family members or guardians of the individuals.

                      Diversity. The advisory council shall be geographically representative of the
                      Commonwealth and reflect the diversity of the Commonwealth with respect to
                      race, ethnicity, types of disabilities across age span, and users of types of
                      services that an individual with disabilities may receive.

                      Compensation. Members of the advisory council will not be compensated for
                      their service on the council but will be reimbursed for reasonable and
                      necessary expenses incurred in the performance of the official duties.

                      Kick-off. The Act calls for the appointment of the members of the council no
                      later than 120 days after the enactment of the AT Act of 2004, October 26,
                      2004.

21       “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
                                              The following exhibit details the nominating form supplied to attendees.
         Exhibit 7: Massachusetts Assistive Technology Act Advisory Council Nomination Form


                                                           MA Assistive Technology Act Advisory Council Nomination Form


Please return this form to MCDHH by no later than February 18, 2005. You may send your responses by mail, e-mail or fax; or you can call us and we will complete a
form by phone on your behalf. Thank you!

Your Name: ____________________________________________________________________

Your Street Address: _____________________________________________________________

Your City/Town: ____________________ Your Zip Code: ________ State: Massachusetts

Your e-mail address: ______________________________________________________________

Your Telephone Number: ______________________________□ Voice □ TTY □ Fax

Best day/time to contact you: ________________________________________________________

Please also help us by answering the confidential questions below:


              Please tell us about your personal experience with assistive technology, whether for yourself or a family member.
              ___________________________________________________________________________
      ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
      ____________



              Would you, or a member of your family be available to attend Advisory Council meetings three or four times annually ?
                          □ Yes □ No



              We are looking for other individuals who could contribute to the Advisory Council. If you would like to nominate someone, please share their contact information with
              us:
              _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
              _____________________________________________________________________________________________


REQUIRED COMPOSITION OF THE TECH ACT ADVISORY COUNCIL

A majority, not less than 51%, of the members of the advisory council must be individuals with disabilities who use assistive technology; or the family members or guardians of
individuals with disabilities meeting these criteria.

Please check which – if any – of the following apply to you:


              A person who has a disability

              A family member or guardian of a person who has a disability

              A representative of the MRC.

              A representative of the MCB.

              A representative of an Independent Living Center.

              A representative of the State Workforce Investment Board.

              A representative of the State Department of Education.
                                              In response to a question, Commissioner Ford explained that the actual
              Representative of other agencies or private organizations, as determined by the State.
                                     selection of Council members will be done by representatives of the disabilities.



         22                         “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
     The Council will be composed of approximately 25 people appointed for a yet-
     undefined term.




23   “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
        Facilitated Roundtable Discussions
                Commissioner Heidi L. Reed, Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of
                Hearing


                    The second half of the Forum featured roundtable discussions of a set of seven
                questions posed to each roundtable. The purpose of the discussions was to generate
                a set of ideas from different groups using common topics. The topics were selected
                to gather feedback from those who actually use assistive technology that will be
                used to formulate the Assistive Technology grant proposal. The following exhibit
                details these questions.


Exhibit 8: Roundtable Discussion Topics

                                    Roundtable Discussions

     1. What kinds of assistive technology do you use?


     2. How did you get your assistive technology?


     3. Is there assistive technology that you wish you had but don’t have? What
        kind?


     4. What prevents you from obtaining assistive technology that you wish to
        have?


     5. Do you feel you know enough about the kinds of assistive technology
        available?


     6. What organization would you contact to get information about assistive
        technology?


     7. What sort of arrangements would most effectively allow you to test or
        borrow assistive technology before choosing the option that works best for
        you?




24             “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
     Procedures
              Attendees were directed to any of nine tables set up around the conference
          room. Each table had a facilitator whose job it was to guide each person at the
          table through the seven questions. People at each table introduced themselves and
          one of them was appointed as a recorder. One hour was allotted for the discussion,
          following which each table selected a spokesperson for that group.


              For a summary of the roundtable findings, please refer to Exhibit 9, which
          follows.


              One of the tables provided Communication Access Real Time Translation
          (CART) services, one table was reserved for those using American Sign Language,
          and one of the tables provided sign language interpreters. The remaining tables
          used spoken English communication.


     Topics and Roundtable Discussions
              Following the one-hour discussion a spokesperson from each of the seven
          tables used during the discussion presented the findings of that table on the seven
          topics.


          Types of Assistive Technology Used by Participants
              Participants in the roundtables used a variety of assistive technology,
          reflecting the variety of the disability community represented at the Forum.
                        A full list of assistive technology responses is attached in Appendix
          1, Assistive Technology Used by Individuals with Disabilities in Massachusetts.


          Sources and Availability of Assistive Technology
              Individuals participating in the roundtables obtained assistive technology by a
          wide variety of means. These included:
                       Verizon Distribution Program
                       Insurance companies
                       Equipment catalogs
                       Comcast
                       Radio Shack




25        “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
              Respondents stated that there was a need for higher levels of assistive
          technology.
              For a full list of responses to this question please see Appendix 2, Sources of
          Assistive Technology.


          Barriers to Obtaining Assistive Technology
              By far and away, the single biggest barrier to obtaining assistive technology is
          money, said the majority of the roundtable participants. While there are a number
          of ancillary barriers—product availability, lack of products, lack of information,
          and low consumer demand—ultimately all barriers come down to cost.


              Other barriers cited by participants were a lack of information in the public
          media, bureaucratic problems that result from a lack of inter-agency cooperation,
          and liability issues.


          Knowledge of the Availability of Assistive
     Technology
              There were two challenges noted by the respondents regarding the availability
          of assistive technology. The first was that technology changes so rapidly that it is
          difficult to stay current with what is available and up-to-date in the market.


              The second issue noted by the roundtable participants is the cost of
          technology. Often assistive-technology users hesitate to purchase new technology
          because they fear making expensive mistakes. Advanced technology can be
          complicated and the fear of purchasing the wrong technology or not being able to
          use it properly keeps many individuals from using it, even if it is generally
          available. This problem is particularly acute among elders, who tend to be
          technology-averse.


              Respondents said that a more important issue than the availability of the
          equipment was the availability of training in the proper use and operation of the
          assistive technology.




26        “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
     Sources of Assistive Technology Information
         Feedback from the roundtables indicated that participants had a solid feel for
     organizations   that   provide      information   on   assistive   technology.   Those
     organizations mentioned most often were:


                  Commonwealth of Massachusetts disability cluster agencies,
                  including
                       o    MCDHH
                       o    MCB
                       o    MRC
                       o    DMR
                  Boston Center for Independent Living
                  American Society of the Deaf and Blind
                  Helen Keller National Center
                  Independent living centers
                  Massachusetts State Association of the Deaf
                  National Association of the Deaf
                  Easter Seals
                  Lions Club
                  Knights of Columbus


     Testing Assistive Technology
         A key issue in the early adoption of assistive technology is the ability to test
     and train on the equipment before using it. Respondents suggested a variety of
     novel approaches that would provide first or second-hand knowledge about the
     technology prior to its adoption.


         One approach suggested was a 30-day lending, or trial, period during which a
     consumer could “test-drive” the technology. Other respondents suggested setting
     up a lending company that could make equipment available on a trial basis.


         Yet another group suggested establishing a publication along the lines of
     Consumer Reports, which would review and rate various types of assistive
     technology by category in order to give consumers research on assistive
     technology prior to purchase.




27   “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
             However, one group mentioned the decidedly low-tech approach of word-of-
         mouth: recommendations from friends and other users of the technology prior to
         making a purchase.


     Roundtable Summary
             Much of the assistive technology cited by the roundtable participants is
         currently in use in Massachusetts: bed shakers, doorbell alarms, TTYs, closed
         caption, a TTY with large print readout and other devices.


             For a thorough listing of cross-disability technology discussed by the Forum
         delegates, please see Appendix 1.


             There are numerous public and private sources of technology and information,
         including health insurers that will sometimes pay for technology. Some
         respondents stated that they had become adept at using the Internet to locate and
         purchase technology, often at a reduced cost.


             However, there remain large holes in daily life that could be filled by assistive
         technology and help individuals be more independent. These include things as
         advanced as low-vision aids or voice recognition, or as simple as non-voice,
         consumer-activated menus at quick-serve drive-through restaurants.


             A wide variety of technology was cited by the blind participants and advocates
         who participated in the roundtables. These included voice command technology,
         Internet navigation by voice command, adaptive keyboards, enlarged fonts, talking
         alarm clocks and audio books.


             Often mentioned by members of the deaf community was better use of visual
         technology. This might include the ability to sign through cellular devices like
         pagers or cell phones, better use of video monitoring in public places like airports
         or expressways.


             In keeping with the need for better visual technology, delegates mentioned the
         need for visual warning systems, similar to bank silent alarm systems. Key to this,
         they said, was the ability to use technology for training, such as the use of CD-
         ROM technology, rather than a printed manual. Another high-technology area
         cited often was the use of Global Positioning System, or GPS, technology for


28       “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
               simple navigational tasks of daily life. A number of blind attendees at the Forum
               raised the issue that they were unable to read the signs directing delegates to the
               meeting location as evidence of simple obstacles that often go unnoticed—even by
               the disabilities community.


                   Perhaps no issue achieved more unanimity than identifying money as the
               biggest barrier to obtaining assistive technology. One group noted the difficulty of
               finding higher-paying jobs and the need therefore to obtain equipment at the
               lowest possible prices.


                   The concept of lending programs was received well by the participants as a
               way to lower the barrier to entry and avoid the pitfalls that sometimes occur with
               the adoption of advanced technology. One group developed the novel concept of
               having mobile vans equipped with assistive technology that could make visits
               throughout the state, bringing the technology to where it is most need.


                   Nevertheless, there was general agreement that word-of-mouth among
               individuals who have used a particular device or technology provided a trusted
               source of information for disabled individuals to make a decision on the adoption
               of technology. Several respondents felt that this was especially critical in the case
               of seniors who tend to be technology-averse.


                   A point of demarcation in the discussion of assistive technology is where does
               the technology end as a convenience and begin as an aid. While the amount and
               variety of assistive devices continues to proliferate, the ability to use that
               technology has not increased. Therefore, one suggestion—in addition to better
               training, greater availability, and lower cost—was to impress on manufacturers the
               need to make technology more usable right out of the box.


                   The following table summarizes the results of the Roundtable discussions.




Exhibit 9: Summary of Roundtable Issues

29             “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
1.   What Type of Assistive Technology Do Forum          2.   What are general sources for assistive
     Participants Use Most?                                   technology

          T-Mobil Sidekicks                                   Independent living services
          Visual alarm clocks                                 Verizon distribution program
          Bed shakers                                         Insurance companies
          Baby signaler lights                                Video relay service
          Medical alert systems                               Catalogues
          Closed captioning                                   Business-to-Consumer services like
                                                              Comcast, Verizon or Radio Shack
                                                              Word-of-Mouth
3.   Is there assistive technology you wish you          4.   What are the barriers to obtaining
     had, but do not?                                         assistive technology?

              Global Position System (GPS)                        Money
              2-way tactile alerting system                       Product availability
              Driving alert system                                Cost
                                                                  Lack of products
                                                                  Lack of information
                                                                  Low consumer demand
     5.   Do you feel you know enough about              6.   What agencies or organizations to you
          technology that is available?                       contact for information on assistive
                                                              technology?

          Technology changes so quickly                       Commonwealth of Massachusetts
          Lack of knowledge about                             agencies, including
          technology                                                  Massachusetts
          Cost of technology                                          Commission for the Deaf
          Fear of making a costly mistake in                          and Hard of Hearing
          purchasing the wrong technology                             Massachusetts
          Complexity of some forms of                                 Commission for the Blind
          assistive technology                                        Massachusetts
          Lack of training availability prior                         Rehabilitation
          to purchase of assistive technology                         Commission
                                                                      Massachusetts Department
                                                                      of Mental Retardation
                                                              American Society for the Deaf and
                                                              Blind
                                                              Helen Keller National Center
                                                              Independent living centers


30                “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
                                                              Massachusetts State Association of
                                                              the Deaf
     7.   What types of arrangements work best for testing assistive technology prior to purchase?

          30-lending period or lending program
          A “Consumer Reports®”-type publication that would recommend particular technology for
          particular circumstances




31                “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
     Next Steps
         Heidi L. Reed, Commissioner, Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard
         of Hearing


             The Advisory Council will be an important part of the promotional and
         developmental process necessary to implement the Tech Act in Massachusetts, said
         Commissioner Reed in concluding the day’s program. The development process,
         including the Advisory Council will be an integral part of providing the necessary
         information back to the disabilities cluster to manage the assistive technology
         grant, she stated.


             The goal is to ensure, to the maximum extent possible, that people with
         disabilities who use assistive technology have as much access to that technology as
         possible in order to lead independent lives, said the commissioner.


             In order to do this the goal should be universal access to assistive technology
         made possible by the assistive-technology grant. For this reason the disabilities
         cluster believes that it is important to make maximum use of technology.


             The key to maximizing this effort during the term of the Tech Act and the
         assistive-technology grant will be to invest the Advisory Council with the ability to
         provide real, substantial feedback to the disabilities-cluster agencies. Only by
         doing this will the Commonwealth be assured that the decisions being made
         regarding the grant will match the goals, expectations and needs of disabled
         individuals who need and use the technology.


             Commissioner Reed expressed the wish that the final Advisory Council
         represent the needs of a broad range of disabilities. Although method for
         distributing the assistive-technology grant has yet to be decided, she stated that it
         will probably involve the use of outside service contracts.


             However, numerous speakers made it clear from the audience and the podium
         that a priority must be educating the public and Congress on the need to include
         funding for the Assistive Technology Act of 2004 and the Assistive Technology




32       “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
     grant in the FY 2006 federal budget. Without funding, implementing the concepts
     and solutions raised at the Forum will be nearly impossible.




33   “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
           Appendix 1: Assistive Technology Used by
           Individuals with Disabilities in Massachusetts
     1.    Flashing lights for phone, door, alarm –          24.   Eyeglasses
           signaling devices                                 25.   Enlarged fonts
     2.    Pagers                                            26.   Universal design devices
     3.    Computers, email, Instant Messaging               27.   Spell check
     4.    Vibrating alarm                                   28.   Orthopedic shoes
     5.    Captioning – open captioned movies,               29.   Talking clock
           rear window                                       30.   Talking books
     6.    CART (Communication Access Real                   31.   PACMATE Pocket PC
           time Translations) Services                       32.   Duxbury Braille translation
     7.    Relay – video and internet, phone, VCO            33.   Talking calculator
           (Voice Carry Over)                                34.   Portable Brailler
     8.    Zoom Text                                         35.   Word finder
     9.    Hearing aids, cochlear implants                   36.   Word prediction software
     10.   Closed caption TV                                 37.   Digital whiteboard
     11.   TTY, TTY with Braille/large print                 38.   Alpha smarts
     12.    Global Positioning Systems                       39.   Wheelchair/tray
     13.   FM system                                         40.   Software – key guard
     14.   Text messaging                                    41.   Lifts
     15.   Voice recognition and activation                  42.   Adaptive housing
     16.   Electric toothbrush                               43.   Wireless phones
     17.   JAWS(for Windows screen reader)                   44.   Braces/crutches
     18.   Magnifier                                         45.   One-handed devices
     19.   Head mouse                                        46.   Customized modifications
     20.   Read out loud                                     47.   Door openers
     21.   Computer assisted input                           48.   X-10 system
     22.   Screen reader                                     49.   Braille output
     23.   Adapted keyboard, mouse




34                 “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
     Appendix 2: Sources of Assistive Technology
     MCDHH
     MCB
     MRC
     DMH
     DMR
     Medicaid
     Sprint – VRS (Video Relay Services)
     Employer
     Verizon Specialized Telephone Equipment Program for TTY
     Self paid
     Title 7B
     Health insurance
     Audiologist
     Landlord
     Children’s Hospital
     Created or modified software – made them creatively
     Tester for computer company
     E-books
     Lions Club
     Knights of Columbus
     Local Education Agency
     IL (Independent Living) Centers
     School system
     Free community resource
     Mass Society of Optometrist
     MATP




35          “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
         Appendix 3: Round Table Discussion
Wish List for Assistive Technology
CapTel                                                 Low vision aids
Fast food drive-in options, not voice dependent        More voice command technology
Video pager                                            Internet navigation by voice
Signing GPS, GPS – affordable for mobility             Agencies collaborate more for AT
independence for people who are blind                  Commitment from software manufacturers
ASL on computer instead of written words               Better, easier learning through AT
More visual equipment from phone company               Access to experts to make what we have work
Increased pager service (geography)                    better
Visual public address system in classrooms,            Better training
airports, trains                                       “way-finding technology” indoor/outdoor
Signal device to warn about fire/ambulance             reliable public transportation
Personal safety alarm                                  universal access to plays, movies, audio
Use technology for training (LDs)                      description
All movies captioned (school)                          hearing aids
Translate ASL to English on TTY                        better technical support
Programmed responses on TTY, no need to type           high speed scanner
TTY, VRS for all police                                national file format (CAST)
Relay – change language options                        AT for temporary jobs, internships, part-time jobs
PDA, blackberry                                        Committed people to develop AT – incentives
Power chair                                            Entitlement to AT for access
Door knocker                                           Home-based employment
Visual alerting systems                                What to do with older equipment?
Better speech recognition – difficult to use           Person-to-person tactile system
Dragon
Voice email to text                                    Vibratactile and large print pager/pda
Computer – augmented communication boards              Large print and Braille captioning
Voice output                                           Mobile communication system for everyday
Voice activated                                        communication
Glucose tester                                         Better traffic crossing signaling (Seattle model)
Braille/large print keyboard with speech               Vibration signaling for public transportation
Visual/tactile signaling systems compatible            Emergency info in pager form for deafblind
Combo signaling systems with screens so people
will know who is at the door (deaf-blind)
intercom unit will be the communication interface.


Do you feel you know enough about the kinds of assistive technology available?
Yes, but only because involved in the field            Demo rooms
No, not enough info out in general media               Need workshops to keep up with info
Hard to get word out                                   Fear making expensive mistakes
Ongoing info and referral                              Lack of accessible training
Put info on agency websites                            What funding is available?




36               “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”
What prevents you from obtaining the assistive technology you wish to have?
Money – sliding fees needed                           Skilled evaluators
Uncertainty of product – no comparison ability        Inadequate insurance coverage
No training available                                 PR – what technology is available?
Breaking down barriers of what and how to use         Admission fee to expos
Not available to poor vision or motor skills          Beauracracy
Compatibility – new software may need new             Cumbersome contracting
computer                                              Agency liability if specs are not to code
Lack of dissemination of info                         AT advocate
Frustration                                           Lack of agency cooperation
Complexity of AT                                      Does not fit criteria
Lack of support system                                Lack of funding for innovative ideas
Inability to use all functions                        Lack of continuity among agencies
AT becoming out-of-date                               Product availability
Ignoring low-tech and mid-tech options                Lack of consumer demand
Enforcement of ADA – slow complaint process           Repairs can take a long time – no loaners
Systems barriers                                      available

Where to get info about Assistive Technology
Easter Seals, MCDHH, MRC, DMR, Veterans’              Perkins school for the blind
SPED Department                                       Tufts school of occupational therapy
Audiologist                                           QIAT list-serv
SHHH, ALDA                                            Closing the Gap conference
Internet search engine, peers in community            Rehab engineer society of N. America
Library, community resources registry                 IL centers
MATP                                                  Carroll Center
Google , Kurzweil list-serv                           Hartling
Company technical support                             AADB
Friends
AT expo fairs, Deaf Expo                              American Society for the Deaf and Blind
MSAD                                                  Helen Keller Center
Lions Club, Knights of Columbus, Rotary Club

What sort of arrangements would most effectively allow you to test or borrow assistive
technology before choosing the option that works best for you?
Loan centers, info about loan centers                 Longer loans for expensive hardware
Allow to try out – traveling road show to show        Short-term rental – “rent-to-buy”
assistive technology combined with peer               Training
mentoring                                             Expert input, including opinions of other users
Demonstration center with loaner ability              Assisted evaluation or tutored
Peer-mentoring system                                 Not loans because AT changes too quickly
More info and awareness (PR)                          Pennsylvania model – statewide funded centers
Loan like UCP Toy Library                             ATIA conference
Fully functioning software for 30-day demo            Library
State bulk purchasing – EVAS in RI and Dell           Technology library
CT NEAT Marketplace                                   Leave deposit, when returned, get deposit back
“word of hand”                                        30-day loans
recommendations                                       compliance with section 508 and ADA
consumer reports


37              “Putting Technology into the Hands of Individuals with Disabilities”