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State Financing

Definition

The AT Act describes state financing activities as activities that increase “access to, and funding for, assistive technology devices and assistive technology services (which shall not include direct payment for such a device or service for an individual with a disability but may include support and administration of a program to provide such payment), including development of systems to provide and pay for such devices and services, for targeted individuals and entities”.

There are several different types of state financing activities that states and territories may perform, including:      

Financial Loan Programs

Support for the development of State-financed or privately financed alternative financing systems of subsidies for the provision of assistive technology devices, such as:

  • an interest buy-down program
  •  a revolving loan fund
  •  a loan guarantee or insurance program

A financial loan program provides financial loans for purchase of AT devices and services. A financial loan program may make loans directly (revolving loans) or may make partnership loans using dollars from another source, usually a financial institution.

Other State Financing Activities that Directly Provide AT

Development and administration of systems that provides for the payment or other acquisition of assistive technology. Examples of such programs can include:

Last Resort Funds: These programs provide AT, or funds to purchase AT, to consumers when other options have been exhausted or are unavailable. These may be earmarked for particular types of consumers (such as children or seniors) or particular types of AT or they may be for any group or type of AT. States may not use AT Act dollars to provide funds or devices directly to individuals. AT Act dollars may be used to administer a last resort fund comprised of non-AT Act dollars. 

Home Modification Program:  A home modification program provides home modifications, including the addition of wheelchair ramps. States may not use AT Act dollars to provide funds or devices directly to individuals. AT Act dollars may be used to administer a home modification program comprising non-AT Act dollars. 

Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Program (State):  These are state program to distribute telecommunications equipment that serves the needs of people with disabilities, including safety needs during emergencies. (This is not the federally funded NDBEDP or iCanConnect). States may not use AT Act dollars to provide funds or devices directly to individuals. AT Act dollars may be used to administer a telecommunications distribution program comprising non-AT Act dollars.

Deaf/Blind Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Program (Federal):  This is the National Deaf/Blind Equipment Distribution Program funded by the Federal Communications Commission also known as iCanConnect. This program provides telecommunications equipment for individuals who are deaf/blind. States may not use AT Act dollars to provide funds or devices directly to individuals. AT Act dollars may be used to administer a telecommunications distribution program comprising non-AT Act dollars.

Other State Financing Activities That Create AT Savings

Examples of these types of activities can include:

Cooperative Buying Program: Cooperative buying programs procure AT in bulk at a discount from AT suppliers and then pass the savings on to consumers/beneficiary recipients.

AT Lease Program:  These programs provide AT to consumers on a leased arrangement which provides savings over a direct purchase. Typically there is external funding used to purchase the devices that are leased to consumers. The leasing arrangement can include a lease-to-buy provision. 

AT Fabrication Program:  These programs fabricate AT systems for recipients from readily available materials providing functional AT products at a significant savings. 

Characteristics of State Financing Programs

The structure of financial loan programs vary from state to state. Some programs are direct lenders while others have arrangements with banking partners for interest buy-downs, loan guarantees, or related arrangements. Responsibilities for various loan program functions also vary by state such as loan review, loan approval processes, and servicing of loans.

Other State Financing activities such as programs that provide for acquisition of or payment for devices and those that create savings for AT devices vary widely according to the types of consumers or types of AT for which the program is designed.

Performance Measures and Required Data Collection Elements

State financing activities are covered by the Acquisition Performance Measure. To report data for this measure, state AT programs must collect follow-up information from consumers regarding the primary purpose for which AT was needed, why they chose to use the program, and customer satisfaction. Data elements include the number, type, dollar amount provided, and scope of assistive technology provided. Data is also collected on customer satisfaction for State financing activities.