What is Assistive Technology?
Assistive Technology (AT) is special equipment to help you in your daily life. AT helps you communicate with others. AT helps at school, work, and when you’re out having fun. It can help you be more independent and improve your quality of life.
AT can help:
- your physical or mental ability
- you overcome a disorder or injury
- a condition you have from getting worse
- you learn
- when you have a missing arm or leg
Here are some examples of AT:
- motorized scooters
- Braille equipment
- hearing aids
- low vision aids
- communication systems
- environmental control devices
- telecommunication devices for individuals with hearing impairments
There are many options to help you find AT. The NewWell Fund offers low interest loans for special equipment, if you qualify.
The Virginia Assistive Technology System (VATS) is a statewide program that can help you get the AT you need. If you do not have insurance, if your insurance doesn’t cover AT, or if you cannot pay for what you need, VATS may help. VATS also has an AT recycling program that may be able to find used equipment free. Recycling means that gently used devices are donated, cleaned, repaired, and given to those who need them. Most AT is for adults. Some programs are starting to have devices for children.
If you have Medicaid, you may be able to get AT through Medicaid. If what you need is not normally covered by Medicaid, and you use a Medicaid home and community-based waiver, you may be able to get AT this way.
There are also options available if you need AT for employment.
The costs for AT depend on what you need. If you need a loan, the interest rate offered through the NewWell Fund is usually below normal rates. Loans are available with no down payment and longer terms, which can make your monthly payments smaller. If you receive Medicaid services, you may have to pay a small amount called a “co-payment” for the item.
If you are not sure if you can pay for the AT that you need, call the VATS Information and Referral System at 1-800-435-8490. VATS staff can guide you to the best resources where you live.
Use the VATS Information and Referral System to find out about:
- AT products
- funding options
- other resources that include therapists, service providers, and places that sell AT
There are 11 AT recycling programs in the state. Learn more about recycling on the Virginia Assistive Technology System website.
To apply for a loan through the NewWell Fund, you must be a resident of Virginia with a disability or have a family member with a disability. A person with a disability is someone who believes they are limited in a major life function such as walking, seeing, hearing and talking. No matter what your income is, you may apply.
If you use Medicaid services, your main doctor can help you know what would best assist you. They can also help find a company to provide you with the AT. (The company must get approval from Medicaid before the AT can be sold to you.)
If you use Medicaid waiver services and your waiver offers AT, equipment may available if you use at least one other waiver service and need the item. It must also be authorized by the Medicaid program before you can buy it. You can get up to $5,000 worth of AT each service plan year. Your case manager, transition coordinator or health care coordinator can help you.
If you do not have Medicaid and want to apply, call your local Department of Social Services. You may also apply for Medicaid on-line.
If you need AT for employment, you can visit the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired or The Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services.
The NewWell Fund has a website that provides more information about its low interest loans.
The Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services has a website that provides more information about waiver services that offer AT.
You can also visit the Communication Support page on this website to learn more about AT that can help you communicate.